Monday, April 23, 2012

Gas Mileage

I love to drive, and when I say that, it means I love driving with some ... alacrity. I want to feel how the car transitions its weight in the corners. I want the apex to matter. Most of my driving is my commute, a four-lane divided highway known more for its scenery than anything else, Interstate 4 (I've been told not to call it "The Four," like a SoCal dweeb). It can be frustrating driving this rode as a commute, especially during retailer hours (what I do), as it tends to get clogged up by those looking at the scenery. It's a fantastic road to drive with lots of curves, a steep grade, rolling hills and plenty of livestock to gaze out at.

Last week I was one of those people looking at the scenery, as I was recovering from the flu. My mileage to work was a stunning 32 MPG, compared to my usual 29 MPG. That differential, 3MPG is the damage I do driving in my usual manner (it's actually a little worse on the way home due to traffic). So how bad could it be?

Let's do the math:
46.2 mile round trip commute
$4.50/gallon for premium fuel (because it is Geerrrman)
12,012 miles per year

373.38 gallons driving Miss Daisy = $1,681.21
414.20 gallons driving like I stole it = $1,863.90
Difference: $182.69 or $15/month

Besides the environmental impact of spewing 40 gallons worth of hydrocarbons into the air each year (I imagine lighting fire to a 50 gallon drum in my back yard), there is also the cost of the car itself. If I drove like Miss Daisy a standard Volkswagen Golf would have done the trick, which would have saved me another $120/month. And there's my vice, right there.

On the plus side, I've been moving my consumption down over the years, from thirsty V8's (540i, Dodge Magnum) to smooth 6's (330i, Mazda 6), even a horrible, buzzy 5-cylinder (Acura TL), and now the GTI turbo 4. I get just as much enjoyment out of that little 4 as I did the bigger engines (although that E39 540i was a dream car), while doing what little I can not to destroy the world (you can thank me later).


  1. Couldn't agree more. I've driven quite a few cars in my day, some of them quite high performance, but for me it always comes back to hot hatches. Give me something that can be practical most of the time, but also as much fun as I want the rest. Things like the GTI, the incredibly eager Mazdaspeed 3, the Focus ST... I think they're about the most fun you can have per dollar.

  2. Highway 4 isn't an interstate. It's "Highway four". As far as I can make out, the rules are: use numbers only, as long as that's a minimum of two syllables. If it's fewer, you can either add "highway" as a prefix, or just continue to use numbers only.