Extreme Commuting in the 2011 Audi TT, 2011 Chevy Equinox, 2012 Dodge Charger R/T

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More often than not, buyers of all-wheel-drive cars and SUVs must deal with worse gas mileage compared with their two-wheel-drive counterparts. The 2011 Audi TT now only comes with all-wheel drive — a front-wheel-drive option was eliminated for 2010 — but its gas mileage is still respectable at 22/31 mpg city/highway. Along with the TT, we put all-wheel-drive versions of the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox with its four-cylinder base engine and 2011 Dodge Charger R/T with a healthy V-8 through our heavy Chicago commute.
 
The TT makes an interesting case as a commuter car.

Achieving 25.2 mpg after a brutal commute is impressive for a fun-to-drive all-wheel-drive sports car. Unfortunately, its stiffly sprung suspension wore on my back. Smoother roads or a shorter drive could make its case as a commuter car for those looking for a little sport without sacrificing mileage. The TT does require premium fuel, though. 
 
In our previous testing, the Equinox with front-wheel drive couldn’t back up its 32 mpg highway rating. With all-wheel drive and a slow commute, it came up short of its 20 mpg city rating, at 17.1 mpg. However, the Equinox’s commute had a lower average speed than most of our drives. Still, we're not impressed with the results.
 
Although the 2012 Charger V-6 gets an eight-speed automatic transmission to bump gas mileage up to 31 mpg on the highway, the V-8-powered R/T continues with its five-speed automatic like the one I tested. With this configuration, plus all-wheel drive, the Charger managed 17.3 mpg on my commute. 
 
Extreme commuting is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as someone who spends more than 90 minutes per day on the way to the office. Since Cars.com is based in downtown Chicago, our commutes last that long and can bring out the worst — or best— gas mileage in the cars we test. We wanted to give an idea of what to expect in these conditions by tracking our gas mileage.
 
My real-world commute averages 35 miles one way from the western suburbs to downtown Chicago. It takes 90 minutes on good days and up to three hours on bad days. Those are really bad days. Speeds average 22 to 25 mph.

Like in our mileage challenges, data is collected from the car’s on-board trip computer. As we've reported before, they are generally accurate, especially when calculating trips of this length.

Audi_tt

2011 Audi TT coupe, all-wheel drive

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • EPA rating (city/highway/combined): 22/31/26 mpg
  • Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
  • Trip mpg: 25.2 mpg
  • Trip miles: 34.3 miles
  • Average speed: 25.2 mph
  • Outside temp: 60 degrees

2011_equinox_ltz

2011 Chevrolet Equinox, all-wheel drive

  • 2.4-liter four-cylinder, six-speed-automatic transmission
  • EPA rating (city/highway/combined): 20/29/23 mpg
  • Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
  • Trip mpg: 17.1 mpg
  • Trip miles: 33.7 miles
  • Average speed: 20.6 mph
  • Outside temperature: 93 degrees

Dodge_charger

2011 Dodge Charger R/T, all-wheel drive

  • 5.7-liter eight-cylinder, five-speed-automatic transmission
  • EPA rating (city/highway/combined): 15/23/18 mpg
  • Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes
  • Trip mpg: 17.3 mpg
  • Trip miles: 32.9 miles
  • Average speed: 23 mph
  • Outside temp: 87 degrees

Comments 

WTF

How would you describe your driving style? Tailgater resulting in extreme starting/stopping? Hypermiler who leaves space between the next car to avoid having to use the brake?

Jay

What part of Chicago has comuuter traffic with 7 lanes as shown in the picture for the article? Its also strange that we have exits in Chicago named Rosecrans, Inglewood, and Hawthorne like the L.A. area...LOL

Freeman

The TT is very acceptable everyday car for 1 or 2 people. I drive a 2010 TTS around 80 miles a day, and gets 28.8 mpg. If you think the drive is harsh on the TT, switch out for smaller wheels and fatter tires. I'm on 19inch, its harsh on rough roads, but acceptable when considering the performance.

jstant01

Pretty telling that the Equinox ended up showing LOWER mpg than the Charger R/T!

Also, I'm sorry Joe. I think you are insane for living 35 miles from where you work with a 90 minute to 3 hour commute. I used to live 35 miles away from where I worked too, but since it's a much smaller city, my commute was rarely more than 45 minutes unless the roads were bad in the winter.

I moved 3 miles away from my office one year ago, and now I ride my bike to work or walk most days. I can't emphasize strongly enough how much my quality of life has improved as a result.

Looking at all three,I see that the TT had the far easier load for a/c.It
had 60 degrees;no air! The
other two had 87 and 93 degrees to cope with. The Chevy also had a big volume to cool as well. Still,the Chevy shows lousy
effiency for a 4; the Dodge
had a V8 plus AWD (like the Chevy) and engine twice
the size! That makes the
Dodge amazing! Part of this may be due to cylinder
de-activation. Kuddo's to the Dodge.
MMM

I love that Audi. I wish I had one. But I would deal with something like an A6 Quattro

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