Mileage Challenge 5.5: Final Thoughts

Beyond the numbers that we so diligently broke down yesterday, driving four different cars for six hours can be telling in many more ways than just fuel economy. Our editors share their thoughts on the cars and pick which car they’d log another six-hour trip in.
By Kelsey Mays | October 23, 2009 | Comments (10)

Mileage Challenge 5.4: The Results

Our latest mileage challenge had editors logging more than 300 miles each in three hybrids and a diesel: the 2010 Honda Insight, 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid, 2010 Toyota Prius and 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. We tallied up all the numbers and corrected for a brief photography stint between Legs 2 and 3. (Angling cars around for the camera — complete with rapid stops, starts and idling — has a way of dinging your mileage, and it’s not representative of real-world driving.)

The results were striking.
By Kelsey Mays | October 22, 2009 | Comments (19)

Mileage Challenge 5.3: Dizzying Displays

Most people think all of the advanced technology in today’s hybrid cars is under the hood. While automakers continue to enhance new engines, batteries and drivetrains, they’re also working on ways to wrangle the one factor they can’t control — the driver.

To gain maximum efficiency in a hybrid, a driver must be taught to drive properly so fill-ups are few and far between. In the crop of cars we tested on our mileage drive, there were a dazzling array of displays to teach people to drive as green as possible.
By Matthew Raskin | October 21, 2009 | Comments (2)

Mileage Challenge 5.2: Avenues and Interstates

Our latest mileage challenge took three hybrids — the Honda Insight, Mercury Milan Hybrid and Toyota Prius — and one diesel, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, from Chicago to Fond du Lac, Wis., and back. The total distance came to just over 300 miles: The first 38 miles were in urban gridlock, the next 230 miles or so consisted of relatively open highway driving and the final 35 miles took place in afternoon interstate traffic.

As in our other mileage challenges, the ground rules remained largely the same: Four editors filled the tires to their recommended pressure, kept windows and sunroofs closed, drove as we normally would and switched cars at each leg to control for driving habits. But this being a challenge with hybrids there were some added things to look out for that could sway the results.
By Kelsey Mays | October 20, 2009 | Comments (7)

Mileage Challenge 5.1: Hybrid vs. Diesel

Despite gas prices averaging below $2.50 a gallon nationwide, hybrids and alternative-fuel vehicles are as popular as ever. The redesigned Toyota Prius is one of the country’s best-sellers, and Volkswagen’s TDI diesel was in short supply after it debuted at dealers earlier this year. With interest in these types of vehicles still high, we held another mileage challenge with the most popular of these cars and included both hybrids and VW’s most efficient diesel.
By Kelsey Mays | October 19, 2009 | Comments (21) Mileage Challenge 4.3: The Results


The spring’s mileage challenge took three entry-level luxury crossovers — the BMW X3, Land Rover LR2 and Volvo XC60 — on 300-plus miles of mostly highway driving around northeast Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The results? Read on:

By Kelsey Mays | May 20, 2009 | Comments (1)

Mileage Challenge 3.4: Fuel Economy Value


The fuel economy results of our mileage drive are in, and by now you’ve already read which cars we tested, the mileage they achieved and our impressions of each compact car. It’s using those real-world results that we’ve calculated which of these frugal commuters offers the best fuel economy value, based on each car’s as-tested price compared to the mileage it returned.

The calculation was simple: To pinpoint a value based on fuel economy, we merely divided the MSRP by how many miles per gallon the car returned during our testing. Now, let us mention that you can always get a bare-bones, stripped version of car, improving its fuel economy value, but the following results are a reflection of the specific trim levels we tested, which mostly included niceties that made the drive easier.

By Joe Bruzek | November 13, 2008 | Comments (16)

Mileage Challenge 3.3: Driving Impressions


This week, we reported the results of our latest mileage challenge, a 300-mile highway trip in four high-mileage commuter cars. Our convoy averaged a respectable 33.8 mpg. The Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic achieved the highest numbers, with the Pontiac G5 and Ford Focus coming in a few ticks worse. Three editors and an editor in chief logged considerable time in each, and we cobbled together some impressions and off-the-cuff rankings for the group.

Read on for our thoughts.

By Kelsey Mays | November 12, 2008 | Comments (16) Mileage Challenge 3.2: The Results


Yesterday, we introduced the four high-mileage commuter cars for our latest mileage challenge, which comprised about 300 miles of highways southwest of Chicago. Three of the four — the Pontiac G5, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus — had trip computers with mpg readouts; the fourth, a Honda Civic, did not. We started the drive with full tanks of gas, logged mileage on the trip computers and calculated it again by filling up at the end of the day.

The numbers are in, and the Corolla came in first at 36.4 mpg, outperforming its 27/35 mpg city/highway ratings — and it was the only car to do so. The other three posted more modest results: The Civic (25/36 mpg city/highway) achieved 34.6 mpg, the G5 (25/37) achieved 33.1 mpg and the Focus (24/35 mpg) achieved just 31.0 mpg.

Full results below.

By Kelsey Mays | November 11, 2008 | Comments (44) Mileage Challenge 3.1


Gas prices are dropping — precious good news in otherwise dismal economic times — but automakers clearly think we’re still in for a long-haul increase. To wit: The MPG war remains afoot, and the higher the gas mileage numbers you can put up, the better. General Motors markets XFE trims, for Extra Fuel Economy, of certain cars and trucks that have been tweaked to get better mileage. Ford has the makings of a similar lineup in its SFE, or Superior Fuel Economy, badging. Even Hyundai and Kia tout drivetrain revisions that yield incremental upticks in several of their ’09 models.

The ratings are sometimes impressive, especially among commuter cars, so for this fall’s mileage challenge we put four of them to the test. GM’s Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 twins now get an estimated 25/37 mpg city/highway in high-efficiency XFE trim, which only comes with a manual transmission. The redesigned Toyota Corolla gets a close 27/35 mpg city/highway rating with an automatic; that’s a slight increase over the prior-gen automatic. A number of other contenders post impressive highway figures, too.

Balk all you want about how your kid brother’s ’87 Tercel got 35 mpg going uphill, but we’ll remind you that today’s commuters can reach 60 mph in less than 10 seconds – with side curtain airbags and habitable backseats to boot.

By Kelsey Mays | November 10, 2008 | Comments (17)

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