The 2008 Cars.com Mileage Challenge: Part 2
Yesterday, we detailed our scheme to document the real-world mileage of four 2008 models — a Nissan Rogue, Subaru Impreza, Dodge Grand Caravan and Hyundai Sonata. All the cars except the Rogue had trip computers with mileage readouts, so we were able to easily track our mileage along the way. The results are in:
Frankly, we’re a bit surprised at how well we did. We didn’t climb any hills (it’s the Midwest, after all) nor did we stock up on cargo or passengers. But the EPA does neither in its tests, and our results came in near — and in some cases slightly above — the highway estimates for all four cars. Possible explanations? Writer Mike Hanley, who was one of the drivers, noted that our driving conditions reflected mostly highway driving. On rural roads we cruised at 40 or 50 mph, and the stretch of bumper-to-bumper traffic on Leg 4 — which cut mileage around 22 percent for the entire leg — was only about 30 miles. Weather conditions, too, were optimum for high mileage.
We certainly didn’t plan to sip fuel. Driving solo with properly inflated tires is hardly out of the norm — or at least for the tires part, it shouldn’t be. On the whole, we stomped on the gas, cranked the A/C and passed slow-moving Buicks as much as any average Joe would.
Our little journey suggests that the EPA’s latest numbers — at least the highway ones — can be easily attainable. With the pre-2008 figures, you really had to drive conservatively to match the estimates. (The Rogue, WRX and Grand Caravan were redesigned this year, leaving no pre-’08 figures for comparison, but in 2007, a mechanically identical Sonata would have been rated at 24/33 mpg.) With the agency’s new figures, you can drive like you normally would and expect to achieve the ratings, which of course is the idea behind the EPA estimates. For regular drivers, these numbers seem much more usable, and helpful, than previous pie-in-the-sky figures.
Check back tomorrow for a few more thoughts about the Challenge in our final post.