Friday, February 29, 2008

It couldn't be done, he said...

On this leap day, I'm excited to announce I've made it: 602.1 miles on one tank of gas in my Toyota Camry! It was a little anxiety-provoking at the end, but success was achieved.

You see, there's this character in the Edmunds forums who thinks he's so smart (with PhD as part of his user name). Because his 2003 Camry 4-cylinder can only achieve 27-28 mpg on California highways, even when he keeps his speed below 65 mph, he's very skeptical of anyone who claims their Camry can get over 30 mpg, let alone near 40 mpg as some have asserted. His ultimate challenge: Make my day, go 600 miles on one tank (18.5 gallons) of gas.

My run was done on mostly all interstates on the way back from New Orleans, posted mainly at 70 mph, in my 2005 Camry 4-cylinder with a 5-speed automatic. This car gets lower mileage than my nearly identical 2004 Camry (the main difference is that the '04 has a 4-speed automatic). I put in 18.53 gallons when I filled up in Knoxville, Tennessee, the capacity of the tank. The car was tilted downward to the right at the station, and the pump nozzle was an "easy squeeze" type, making it easy to top up without risk of spillage.

So, my miles per gallon came to 32.5 -- typical for this car on highway trips, but the first time I risked running out of gas to see if I could make the magic 600-mile mark! Usually when I fill up, I end up putting in only 16 or so gallons at the most (550 miles driven), when the gauge reads exactly at the "E" mark, so I figured I could go another 50 miles. Note in the first photo that the gauge reads well below "E," and the yellow "low-fuel" warning light is illuminated.

By the way, my odometer reads 2.3% slow according to the highway mile markers, so if I correct for this factor, I actually went 615 miles.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My, what big teeth you have!

Not so very long ago, it seemed that cars were becoming more aerodynamic, with lower, sloping hoods and streamlined styling. On some cars, like the 1992 Honda Civic and Ford Crown Victoria, the traditional radiator grille had disappeared, replaced by slots in or underneath the bumper. This was before the SUV craze had reached its boom years in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The SUVs had blocky styling with rectangular grilles. Now that gas prices have shot up and traditional SUVs and pickups have lost some of their popularity, their styling has gone over the top, with huge showy grilles with chrome-plated plastic that dominate their front ends Here are a few of the most outrageous, from top to bottom: Ford F-250 Super Duty, Lincoln Navigator (aggrevator?), GMC Yukon Denali, and finally a passenger car from an automaker that always has featured prominent grilles on its "motorcars," the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe. This last one looks like it has "Groucho Marx" eyebrows over its front lights!