July 27, 2006

High Mileage Hard to Find

I have been looking around for a high mileage vehicle, because I am going to be driving 50 miles a day to my new business. What a revelation! High mileage cars are few and far apart. Honda, Toyota, and a few others have Hybrid vehicles, but for the most part, the parking lots that make up most automobile dealers are overflowing with cars and trucks that guzzle gas like American kids guzzle Big Gulps.

I found one car that intrigued me, the VW Wagon TDI, which has a diesel engine. This car gets almost 50 miles per gallon on the highway, 43 mpg in the city. I can't buy it in Vermont. In fact, I can't buy it in any of the northeast states because it doesn't meet emission standards. Imagine that. One of the most efficient cars can't be bought. I visited a VW dealer who said they can sell the TDI used, with over 8000 miles on the odometer. The salesman said when the owner announces he has bought one at an auction, the dealership contacts a list of people who then rush to the dealership to bid on the TDI.

The sales manager suggested I look at a Jetta or Passat (nice cars) which get 23 mpg in the city. He spoke admiringly of the 23 mpg figure and I couldn't help laughing. Here we are 30 years after the oil embargo of the early 1970s with long lines at the gas stations, and we haven't learned a thing. Gas mileage is less efficient now than it was then. 23 mpg in the city is awful. We've had 30 years to make technicological advances in mpg and we have done almost nothing. How pathetic. And now here we are with automobile dealers' parking lots overflowing with huge gas-eating vehicles baking in the heat of global warming.


Grendl said...

I got my Toyota Prius (a hybrid) for the same reason: and I consistently get 48 - 50 mpg despite having a bit of a lead foot and a 50 mile commute each way, primarily on 495 and the Mass Pike. (The Prius generally gets better mileage, up to 60 mpg, in city driving and if you can moderate your acceleration, neither of which I do very much).

Love that car!

Anonymous said...

VWs continue to have maintenance issues and the dealerships have a loathesome rep in that regard. Avoid em if possible.

There's a slew of new, smaller cars coming out, like the Toyota Yaris. Nissan and Mazda (I think) have these ultra-minis ready to roll and they all get 30+ city and highway.

Existing cars like the Pontiac Vibe (same as the Toyota Matrix) are decent sized cars that'll get you over 30 on the highway.

If you're looking for "hyper" high mileage cars like the Smart car in Europe, heh heh, forget it. You're only options here are hybrids and the price premium on those still (at 3 bucks a gallon) doesn't pay off in the long run.

So, finding something 30+, fairly easy, 40+ pretty hard, 50+ downright impossible. That is until they get the diesel fuel refining capability in line with the newer diesel engines.

Michael Miller said...

I second the love for the Prius. I usually get 52 when I'm paying close attention, 47 when I use air conditioning in SC and drive without concern for mileage. As for 23 mpg? My wife is getting 28.5 in her Highlander Hybrid. (Yeah, we're sold on Toyota's implementation. Very quiet, super ultra low emissions, and so far, they just work.)

Anonymous said...

If you are really committed, buy a hybrid (Ford Escape, Toyota Prias or Highlander, etc).
Then send it to one of the hybrid mod companies that add additional batteries. The result is a car that can go for 125 miles (or more) purely on electcric using the stored batteries, and only switches over to burning gas when the batts run down.
For a typical commute such as yours (50 miles) you will never burn any gas.

There at least two mod companies in California, you might ask around if anyone can do it in Vermont. Otherwise, RoadTrip!



Anonymous said...

They are called Plug In Hybrids. There is a non profit working to get these cars mass produced.

Here's the URL of a year-old article:



DecemberFlower said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one shocked when people gloat about getting 20-something mpg. It's awful, and nothing to really be proud of. My own vehicle gets a little bit over 30 mpg highway, which is better, but I'd rather it be higher. Eventually I'd like to get a hybrid.

Anonymous said...

You really want a TDI, no if / and / but.

thepoetryman said...

When I was a kid we had a Datsun F10 that got 42 miles to the gallon... They will never convince me that the oil company didn't stop production on that engine! Rat bastards!

Laura Erickson said...

I've got 86,000 miles on my 2004 Prius (I have to drive way too much for work), and we average over 50 mpg. I get the best mileage of my family because I don't have a heavy foot, but last week I got 52 mpg going to the Twin Cities and back (330 miles round trip) when I filled up with 89 rather than 87 octane (the cost was identical). I'm not sure how much more oil goes into the production of 89, but I did get about 10% better mileage using it.

The Prius is very comfortable, and that technology is extremely quiet, but the car has excellent pick-up, as the heavier-footed people in my family can attest, so I simply cannot understand why more companies haven't adopted the technology LONG ago. Oh, wait--yes I can. But I hate that.

LaMarr said...

I've looked into the Craig Vetter mileage contests ofthe early 80's.
300 to 400 mpg in a drive from LA to San Francisco, of course the speed limit was 55 mph.

I drive a semi truck and can get 5.6 mpg average at 75 mph but if I slow it down to 55 mph I can get twice the fuel mileage. That's like cutting $3.50 in half for my change in driving habits.

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mattdaub said...

Currently at 569450 km on my 2000 TDI Jetta, major repairs include, clutch at 490,000, Alternater at 505,000, steering pump and rack two weeks ago, four complete sets of brakes, origional exhaust never touched. Still getting 975km to a tank :) Buying a new 2010 TDi golf wagen this fall.

Ed Hawke said...

We have a Toyota Prius that gets a steady 48, and a Matrix (1800 engine/ 5 speed) that gets 29/41. In 1975, I had a Peugeot 304, 4 speed, that got 29/40.

Eric said...

Well, when I was in LA last season for a vacation, I saw that one of the used cars (Orange County) company is selling this 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid 4dr Sdn for less than $18,000. I think it's a good deal for those who consider Hybrid vehicles. The used car dealers (Orange County) are also offering good deals on other Toyota brands. I definitely love Toyota 'coz it's the first car that I learned to drive when I was sixteen.