Forced to get better gas mileage
No, this isn’t an article about Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that force automakers to make more fuel efficient cars. Instead, it’s my own personal story of how I was forced to get my best-recorded mileage in my Honda Ridgeline ever.
A bit of background
I’m sure I’ve gotten short stints of excellent gas mileage before, but they never showed up on my radar because I only calculate the mileage after I fill the tank. By then, I’ve probably blown the fuel economy with jackrabbit starts and high speeds. But in the time I’ve owned the Honda Ridgeline, I’ve never seen anything higher than about 21.5mpg.
In fact, since they added 10% ethanol to the gas mix, I’ve only seen my gas mileage above 20 once. Normally, I’m getting about 17-18mpg (mixed city/highway). And in May, I recorded my worst gas mileage ever…13mpg!
This past weekend, we drove to central PA to see family, and we decided to take the truck. Sure, the MINI Cooper is more efficient, but I just wanted to drive since I never get to anymore (and Stacie doesn’t let me drive the MINI, even though it’s technically “my car”).
But we weren’t just going home to see family. We were going to pick up the Pontiac Grand Am we took back in early May for inspection and some repairs. Now that we have the car, I might sell the truck, but that’s a different story.
So on the way home Sunday evening, I drove the truck and Stacie followed in the car. We both had a full tank of gas to begin. Here’s where the trouble (for me) begins. I’m used to driving fast, especially on the interstate. I generally go about 10-20 over the speed limit (max 80mph usually), but I was being followed by the police the whole way. No, not the real police. The “Stacie Police”.
You see, Stacie will only go at most 10mph over the speed limit, and since I was being the good husband, I didn’t want to leave her and speed along my merry way. So right there, I was limited to 65-75mph max.
Men at Work
Wait, are my headings making a theme of their own (the 80s)? Anywho, the summer is road construction time for Pennsylvania because they can’t get anything done the other 11 months of the year (what, you thought PA had 3 full months of summer?). So for a good portion of the trip, we had to go 50-55mph through miles of traffic barrels or risk double-sized fines (from the real police). In these instances, I just put the truck into cruise control so I wouldn’t be tempted to gun it.
And then on the PA Turnpike, thanks to Stacie’s speed limit rule, I got stuck drafting behind a semi for about 10 miles. That definitely helps fuel economy!
Ok, that heading has nothing to do with the story, but I wanted to throw in one of Stacie’s favorite 80s bands.
So shortly after entering into Maryland on I-70, we got stuck in stop and go traffic (no accidents, just too many people). I’m positive my fuel economy would be even better if we didn’t hit traffic. We ended up getting off the interstate and took a scenic route.
Along the way, I spotted gas for $3.89 per gallon! Screeeeech! That’s 20 cents cheaper than anywhere near our home, and since we were both down close to a half-tank left, we stopped for fuel. And that’s when I got a surprise.
I got 23 mpg!
Some of you may say “woopdidoo” or “sucka, that’s what you get for owning a truck”, but I don’t care because I already know. But this is a big deal. I didn’t think my truck was capable of more than 22mpg any longer. But it is, and maybe even better!
Even the EPA says my truck should only get 15-20mpg (the new numbers) or 16-21 (old numbers).
The Moral of the Story
So the takeaway here is that you too can get more efficiency out of your car by just driving a little slower (i.e. closer to the speed limit). The other tip is to drive consistently. Don’t gun it to pass people just to get one car ahead in a line of 30. Slow and smooth, like Barry White would do, slow and smooth. Awwww yeahhhh.