Here's How Much You Care About Fuel Economy

Here's How Much You Care About Fuel Economy

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Image: Rich Pedroncelli/AP (AP)

I care about fuel economy. Enough to factor it into my buying decisions. Do I want a muscle or sports sedan like a Scat Pack or Kia Stinger? Definitely. Do I wanna deal with truck-like mpg of 15 to 20 mpg? Not with California gas prices and traffic. But I’m also not willing to deal with the compromises that come with an EV yet so I’m stuck.

We asked readers if they cared about fuel economy. These were their answers.

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There’s Nothing Wrong With Caring About It

There’s Nothing Wrong With Caring About It

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Image: Chevrolet

There’s not wrong about caring for the fuel mileage and efficiency your vehicle gets. I feel like people equate “hur I don’t care ‘bout no fuel mileage” with some sort of strange macho-ism or enthusiasm for the car hobby. It’s unhealthy. You can care about MPGs and still be a hardcore enthusiast. Nobody is going to view you differently, and frankly if they do you need new car friends.

You can also very much have the best of both worlds. People don’t seem to believe me but my C5 with the six speed can return 30+ MPGs all day long, even with the 1-4 CAGS shift deleted. The absolute best I ever saw was on a 16 hour trip I returned a confirmed 33.4 MPGs. Out of a V8 engine. Granted it’s a V8 that at ~340 rated (much less at wheels) power that is not far ahead of a V6 Camry, but still 33.4 MPGs out of a 22 year old V8 is pretty good. I consistently see averages well above the twenties around town. I’m not going to own something that returns single digits.

Suggested by: 2nd gear

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Not Enough Of A Compromise To Matter

Not Enough Of A Compromise To Matter

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Image: Stellantis Media Archives

Nope.

The price of gas is prominent and changes often, so it takes on an outsized importance in our lives, but apart from drastic changes like swapping a truck for a Prius, no vehicle buying decision is ever going to make sense on fuel economy alone.

I own 8 vehicles and only one of them ever sees above 25 mpg on any kind of consistent basis.

Do I wish it was better? Sure, who wouldn’t want to save some money? But it’s not enough to compromise on buying the kinds of vehicles that I enjoy driving.

Suggested by: V10omous

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Care Enough For Fuel Savings

Care Enough For Fuel Savings

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Image: Toyota

Yeah. Replacing our old car with a similarly-sized hybrid is saving us $1,000 per year just in fuel. Even after figuring in the extra cost of the hybrid over a similarly equipped ICE, the break-even point for us is somewhere around 5 years, depending on the price of fuel. The car sees a long daily commute and we plan to keep it 8-10 years.

old car: 2011 Santa Fe 3.5L FWD. Combined MPG = 22

new car: 2021 Toyota Venza. Combined MPG = 39

I also think it’s important for each of us to do what we can to reduce CO2 emissions. In our case, switching to the Venza is reducing our tailpipe CO2 by 44%, or about 3.9 tons per year.

Side note: Fuelly is a great tool if you are interested in tracking fuel efficiency and fuel costs.

Suggested by: Stephen

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Yes, For Daily Driving

Yes, For Daily Driving

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Image: Kia

For a daily driver, absolutely I care about fuel economy. It was one of the things I considered when shopping for a new (to me) daily. For something I’m just going to slowly wear out while sitting in traffic every day I want to do it while spending the least amount of money possible.

For a project car or “toy” or “fun” car or whatever you want to call it- couldn’t care less. If I’m only driving it once a week the economy doesn’t matter. But I still do keep an eye on it though, as a sudden change can be a sign of a problem.

Suggested by: As Du Volant

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Caring To A Point

Caring To A Point

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Image: Ford

To a point. I haven’t had a really fuel efficient car since high school. Once I got a real job, it was all about power and V8 Mustangs and a couple of BoF SUVs.

But my current car gets pretty good mileage (just over 25 mpg on average) and it has the little instant mpg gauge in the corner of the dash. Now that I’m aware of it, I find myself felling a tad guilty every time it drops below 5 mpg during acceleration. The other day, I had the sunroof open and noticed that the mpg was around 17 just cruising down the highway at 70 mph. Out of curiosity, I closed it and it went up to around 30! I knew sunroofs were bad for economy, but holy shitballs, batman!

Suggested by: MaximilianMeen

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Only A Little

Only A Little

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A little, I guess?

This is sort of hard to quantify. My current car cost me $6,000, and my wife’s cost $7,500. They both happen to get pretty good gas mileage for how much fun they are(GTI and Miata), so it’s not a big concern right now. If we had the opportunity to get another cheap car that happened to get terrible mileage, I wouldn’t necessarily turn it down if it was something I really wanted.

We will soon be in the market for a larger family vehicle, and I’m mostly concerned with 1. How fun it is to drive, 2. How comfortable it is on long-trips, and 3. How capable it is off-road. Gas mileage is pretty low on the priority list, but it’s not something that I plan to ignore altogether.

#3 is sort of counterproductive when talking about gas mileage. While I would be pretty happy with the overall utility & comfort of a 4Runner, XTerra, or Touareg that gets mid-teens in gas mileage, I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect of spending so much money on gas for the next 5+ years of ownership, especially if this becomes my daily driver. So I’m looking at other SUV options that might have a Diesel engine option firmly in the 20+ MPG range. While diesel-equipped SUVs tend to be more expensive (and harder to find), the fuel savings can make a noticeable difference, so I’m trying to factor that in to my decision. The prospect of a Touareg Diesel that gets similar MPG to my GTI, but can still go pretty much anywhere on a hunting or camping trip is pretty fantastic.

Suggested by: babystapler

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Yes And No

Yes And No

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I track all four of our vehicles on Fuelly, so yes and no.

My wife’s Cruze Diesel is built for fuel economy - I care about fuel economy the most on that car, simply because it’s funny to be “disappointed” when the car posts it’s worse ever fuel economy of 28.X MPG in 100% city, in the middle of winter, using the remote start for a rough total of 90 minutes. That, by the way, is still above the EPA’s city rating for the car (typical 100% city tanks in the summer are around 35 MPG, for reference). Then you go and get 50+ MPG on the freeway with ease.

My Volt, well that’s different entirely because fuel economy doesn’t exactly apply. Still, the number is generally high enough that it breaks Fuelly (I think their limit is 400 MPG or something) and doesn’t actually record into the average, despite being in the log. When you have ~7200 miles on one tank (8.9 gallons) of fuel (enough miles that the trip odometer actually reset back to zero), things tend to get funny.

Now, my Cobalt and Camaro, the toys, I care less about. The Cobalt pretty much seems to get between 22 and 25, depending on how much fun I’ve had with the boosts, and the Camaro gets about...9...because carburetor and no overdrive.

Suggested by: MP81

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Daily Drivers Yes; Other Cars No

Daily Drivers Yes; Other Cars No

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For my daily driver: absolutely. Currently daily driving an early Tesla Model 3 which gets the 116 MPGe. It replaced my Fiat 500 at 29 MPG which replaced my Pontiac G5 at 24 MPG. I’ll never go back to ICE for daily driving, both due to the cost of each fill up, and the inconvenience of the weekly trips to the gas station.

For my other cars: not particularly. I drove so few miles in my Pontiac G8 GT that it doesn’t matter that it gets 18 MPG. Though even my racecar, a Fiat 500 Abarth, gets 30 MPG which is pretty respectable. Also just as I was looking this up, I learned that my racecar with a turbo manual gets 1 MPG better than my previous daily driver commuter Fiat of the same model year with half the horsepower.

Suggested by: StalePhish

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Has Cared For Over 15 Years

Has Cared For Over 15 Years

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Image: Toyota

I have owned a Prius since 2006, so I really do care about mileage. I was commuting about 100 miles a day round trip at the time. After some job changes was working mostly from home and now fully from home, but I purchased a new Prius a few months ago.

On the other side, I do own two trucks that get 10 MPG each, but as one is a family heirloom (‘64 F100 Crewcab) and the other a camper hauler (‘92 F350 long bed dually crewcab) each has a specific purpose. My other other car gets about 22 MPG, but it is a hobby car I’ve owned since ‘78 (‘67 VW squareback).

My DIL just traded in a new Subaru for a new Prius specifically for the increase in MPG. The commute is about 40 miles each way on a nice easy drive, so the mileage adds up financially.

Suggested by: knowoneelse

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Cars Are A Hobby, So No

Cars Are A Hobby, So No

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Image: Mercedes Benz

Not really.

The way I see it driving is a hobby to me. It’s the only hobby aside from golf that costs anything, every other one I have I spent the upfront costs on long ago. The fact that I get to basically spend transportation money on something that’s also a hobby is awesome. Currently all our cars can easily get over 25 mpg if we try, the A220 can even get upper-30s on a highway trip, so it’s not like we’re driving bro-trucks, but I’d rather get the enjoyment out of my gas expense over driving like a grandma and boring myself to death to save a few bucks.

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Yes Because I Work For An Oil Company

Yes Because I Work For An Oil Company

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Image: Ford

Hell Yes!!! I work for an oil company. The last thing I want to do is turn around and give my paycheck back to them! I have a 70 mile a day commute. It’s mostly all 55mph 2 lane back roads. I’m that Asshole that drives 55. My daily, AKA “The Fuck It Bucket”, is an ‘03 single cab, 4 banger 5 speed Ranger. Damn thing averages 32-33 MPG, if I just putt along at 55. The other cars I don’t really worry about. I still track their mileage, but not really concerned about what they get.

Suggested by: My Hooptie Fleet is Boring

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DISCUSSION