Amazing ‘wakeup’

My officemate has a new Buick Enclave with many amenities including a miles-per-gallon indicator. She also recently moved and her new home isn’t on a direct route to the office. Her commute requires taking several diagonal roads. So she’s been trying different routes to see which is quickest. In the process she noticed something significant. The difference between gas mileage on the expressway – doing 65 to 70 – and side roads – doing 50 to 55 – was more than five miles per gallon.

With that in mind I decided to try something. I had to drive to my aunt’s cottage on Keuka Lake. It’s 65 miles; mostly country roads. I recorded my mileage and gas usage. Instead of doing 60-63 mph like I typically do, I drove 50-52 mph all the way down and back, with a couple exceptions. It did take me about five minutes longer to make the trip, and on the way back I did occasionally pull over enough to let faster traffice pass, but the savings in gas was a wakeup call.

My truck’s gas mileage is typically around 12 to 14 in the city, 15 to 16 on the highway. On this experimental excursion I wound up driving 160 miles on 7.2 gallons; that’s 22.2 miles per gallon, an increase of 6.6 miles per gallon, or almost a 40% increase in fuel efficiency. I’d always heard that if you drive slower you get better gas mileage. However, I had no idea the difference was this great.

Unfortunately, 90% of my driving is in the city. But if you’re reading this and driving on the open road, consider the gallons and dollars you could save over the course of a year by knocking 10 miles per hour off your top end.

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2 Comments on “Amazing ‘wakeup’”

  1. Norman Reinhart Says:

    Rich, I have to agree with you on driving slower and saving gas . I recently purchased a new Prius and even though they claim you should get 48/45 I managed to get 52 in the city. I’ve heard other people claim of nearly 60mpg in the city. Like you said you only lost 5 minutes on your trip.

  2. Mary Says:

    I tried that on one of my ventures from Midland, MI, to central NY and found that I only had to gas up twice instead of three times. This, with a well-worn 2000 Hyundai Elantra, two teenage boys, a rambunctious Beagle and no radio. I usually have a lead foot but it became an aluminium foot and saved me about $45. I spent that on fast food. And still arrived at my destination in decent time. Why does speeding make it seem like you are going nowhere faster?

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