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ECON mode does not improve fuel economy by any measurable amount. If it did, it would default to "on" every time you started the vehicle and its operation would be required during EPA testing.

ECON mode works by encouraging relaxed driving by "dampening" throttle response within a wide band from just off idle to just before wide-open throttle. Although it doesn't make any mechanical changes, it reduces part-throttle response to make the vehicle feel less powerful. When a vehicle feels less powerful, you tend to drive more gently which saves fuel. With ECON off, the vehicle feels more responsive and powerful which encourages quick starts, fast driving, and quick stops which reduces fuel economy.

Technically what happens you turn ECON mode on is:

- The throttle becomes less responsive to accelerator pedal input within a band. However, wide-open throttle is still wide-open throttle.
- The HVAC fan speed is slightly reduced, recirculation mode is used more often, and the cabin temperature is allowed to vary more.
- The cruise control becomes less aggressive - the vehicle will lose more speed going uphill and gain more speed going downhill.

That's it - no magic going on. It's basically a "feel good" button. Many drivers report lower fuel economy by using ECON mode. I notice no difference in my CR-V's fuel economy. I get 33 MPG driving to work every day with it on or off. Personally, I keep ECON mode on for the simple fact that it makes the throttle less "touchy".
 

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Correct - which is why it frustrates me so that Honda does not provide an equivalent button to let us turn off VCM.

But on a positive note, the Econ buttons are usually made so that produce a nice purty green color that soothes the savage breast in heavy traffic. >:)
Unlike ECON mode, VCM actually does save fuel and therefore must be operational at all times as a function of the EPA estimates. If VCM could be disabled by the driver with the press of a button, the vehicle would have to be tested by the EPA with the feature off and Honda could no longer claim "best in class" fuel economy. There is currently no system in place for separate sets of EPA estimates with and without fuel saving technologies enabled and disabled.
 

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Never used it. Never will. I like the RL performance just the way it is.
I like it primarily because it reduces accelerator pedal response for smoother, more comfortable takeoff while still allowing wide-open throttle if I need to pass or merge quickly.

To make vehicles feel more powerful than they really are, manufacturers have taken advantage of electronic throttle control's ability to open the throttle blade more than the relative the position of the accelerator pedal. By aggressively opening the throttle with a minimum of pedal travel, a vehicle can be made to feel more powerful on initial tip-in than it really is. Unfortunately, most of the throttle blade opening occurs early on in pedal travel so when you push the accelerator further, there little additional power available.

Take the HR-V, for example. Around town, its tiny 1.8L engine feels pretty peppy. However, that's an illusion. Honda have mapped the throttle so it opens about 50% with only about 25% accelerator pedal travel. Since you're "giving the car more gas" than you think you are, it feels powerful. If you continue to press the accelerator pedal further, not much happens except more noise as the little engine revs up.
 

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700 mile trip in one day and the Econ button is a terrible implementation. It requires a totally different application of a learned habit used in all the other cars I drive including two others that have Econ mode.
Turning it off it drives like a regular vehicle. Turned on it is a frustrating experience.
Honda could do a lot better than this....
Just leave it off if it bothers you that much. Personally, I like it. It makes for a smoother drive. WOT is still WOT whether it's on or off in case you need to get out of the way.
 

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I hear you on the VCM but what's your take on start/stop that can be turned off on an MDX for example?
"If your car stays in the mode you left it the last time you drove, chances are good the EPA window-sticker mileage reflects some or all of its driving modes. But if your car defaults back to a default mode, chances are the EPA mileage only reflects that mode. That's why those window stickers say, as always, that your mileage may vary." - https://www.cars.com/articles/2013/06/do-all-those-driving-modes-affect-a-cars-epa-gas-mileage/

"It turns out the effects of stop-start systems aren't baked into the EPA fuel economy estimates for the very cars that use such systems." - https://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/features/do-stop-start-systems-really-save-fuel.html

VCM can't be switched off, so its effects are included in EPA estimates.

Idle stop and/or ECON modes probably aren't included in EPA estimates unless the vehicle defaults to that mode at each restart or the manufacturer can prove that most drivers use that feature.
 

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Thanks for the links Zroger. VCM must really have a good impact on MPG's to make it mandatory. Interesting how a manufacturer would add stop/start/eco mode at any cost if it isn't factored into the EPA figures.
Based on what I've gathered from some of the more meaningful posts in the "VCM Muzzler" thread, it has cost some owners 1-3 MPG by using a defeat device. This won't bankrupt owners, but even 1 MPG is a big deal to manufacturers.

It costs Honda a few dollars for a momentary pushbutton and a few feet of wire to add an ECON button. The rest of the function is nothing but software. Even though it has almost no effect on fuel economy, it's a cheap investment to make people think it does.

Idle stop technology has the potential to save a significant amount of fuel, if the vehicle would normally spend a lot of time idling and there is no cooling or heating demand. In the real-world, it's an uncomfortable annoyance for most. It doesn't cost much to add this feature, either - basically a heavy-duty starter and some software.
 

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I'm not sure what the Econ button does or changes to the engine on the Ridgeline.
ECON mode in the Ridgeline does three things:

1. It reduces throttle sensitivity when the accelerator pedal is partially depressed. Fully depressing the accelerator pedal still results in wide-open throttle regardless of the setting of the ECON mode. When ECON mode is on, the driver has to physically push the pedal farther to get the same amount of power which makes the vehicle feel sluggish even though it isn't.

2. It makes changes to the HVAC including a lower fan speed and reduced compressor run time (which results in less cooling and dehumidification).

3. It allows more variation in the speed of the cruise control so that it loses more speed uphill and resumes using less acceleration.

The Econ system in my Crosstour is automatic and can't be turned on and off manually. On the Crosstour the Econ system shuts down three cylinders from firing to save gas increasing MPG. From what I read here the Rigdeline button doesn't work the same as the Crosstour?
It sounds like you're confusing the Ridgeline's ECON mode with the Crosstour's ECO indicator.

The Crosstour's ECO indicator comes on "while the engine is operating in its most economical range". It doesn't have an ECON mode or button.
 

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Good explanation of the Ridgeline Econ button, thanks. When asked I was just wondering if it did anything like the Crosstour does by shutting of some of the cylinders. I realize the two systems work in different ways.

Seeing both the Crosstour and Rigdeline have basically the same engine, leads to to wonder. Why not use the Crosstour system in the Rigdeline or better yet use both systems in both vehicles? Just wondering.
The Ridgeline and Crosstour both shut off cylinders to save fuel - this is not something that can be turned off.

Unlike the Crosstour, the Ridgeline has an ECON mode that implies additional fuel savings - this can be turned off.

Both vehicles have VCM.

The Crosstour has a green "ECO" indicator that tells you when the engine is operating efficiently. The Ridgeline has an "Ambient Meter" that changes color depending on how efficiently you're driving. Both serve the same purpose - the goal is to light up the ECO indicator on the Crosstour and keep the Ridgeline's Ambient Meter green (as opposed to light green or white) as much as possible.

So, the Ridgeline technically has more fuel-saving technologies than the Crosstour.
 

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Zroger, can you provide a reference for the lower fan speed of the cooling system? I can't seem to find that anywhere, and it doesn't make sense, since fan speed has nothing to do with economy that I can think of.

Thanks!
It lowers the fan speed of the HVAC system, not the engine cooling system.

The shortened compressor run time results in higher evaporator temperatures which results in less dehumidification and higher outlet temperatures. To help offset this, the blower fan speed is reduced slightly to decrease air velocity and increase residence time in the evaporator to allow a higher percentage of water vapor to condense on the surface of warmer evaporator so that the cabin doesn't become too much like a rain forest.

A slightly slower fan speed also results in less current draw on the electrical system so the alternator doesn't require quite as much power from the engine which results in slightly better fuel economy.

From the service manual:
 

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