the view through the windshield car blog

Gas Mileage Fish Stories

There are many tales about guys exaggerating about the sizes of fish they've caught. I have no experience with this since I'm not a fisherman. However, I have encountered the automotive equivalent of "It was this big!" on numerous occasions. I'm talking about gas mileage, of course.

Last week, my car buddy Ray called and asked what kind of mileage I used to get from my air-cooled VW Beetles. I had to rely on my memory (I've owned three Bugs but sold my last one in 1995) but I replied, "The worst I ever got was city driving using Rocket Gas (a cheap off-brand, in case you haven't guessed) - 23 mpg. It was lousy gas but was only 22.9¢/gallon in 1964. The best, I recall, was in light traffic at 55-60 mph on a long trip - 32 mpg." "Me, too!" he exclaimed. "My Beetle pulled the same numbers. But, I met someone at a party last week and he claimed that his Beetle always delivered at least 42 mpg."

This led to a general discussion of the BS artists we've met who brag about gas mileage, quoting unbelievable numbers. Last month, I met a guy who claimed that he regularly got 28 mpg in his Lincoln Mark VIII, tankful after tankful. Now the Mark VIII has basically the same engine that my wife's '96 Continental had. The best tank mileage we ever got was 24 mpg on a long, all Interstate trip. Typical mileage was in the 18-22 mpg range, depending on the type of driving and time of the year. The EPA-mandated 'winter mix' fuel typically dropped the Connie's mileage by 1-3 mpg. That was true for my 1996 Jaguar as well.

The six-cylinder Jaguar typically got 17-21 mpg in mixed driving. On an all-highway trip, it has achieved 22.5 mpg. My wife's 2005 Toyota Avalon has averaged slightly over 23 mpg since we purchased it. On long Interstate trips, it will pull 28. (In our household, gas mileage is calculated and recorded in the car's logbook every time the tank is filled - we've been doing this for 40 years. We do not rely on the numbers calculated by the car's trip computer. My experience is that the computers are always optimistic.)

The 'official' EPA city/highway mpg estimates for the aforementioned cars are: Mark VIII - 18/26; Continental - 17/25, Jaguar - 17/23, Avalon - 22/31. My 25+ years of exposure to EPA data demonstrate that cars I drive do better than the 'city' figures on average but never as well as the 'highway' numbers.

My 1984 Lincoln Mark VII coupe had a trip computer which reported "instant mileage" and went up to three digits (the Jag's instant mileage display topped out at 99 mpg). On a long steep downhill I-5 stretch just south of the Oregon border, I once experienced a 156 mpg reading. And that's no fish story! (posted 11/5/18)


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Disclaimer

The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive. I'll dutifully report my road test impressions on this car blog.

If I have slandered any people or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.


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