Green Motoring, Miserly Mileage

Stratospheric fuel prices have made mileage a more important consideration in choosing a new automobile. Mileage takes on an economic life of its own, when filling the tank is $70-80 instead of $16-20.
Naturally, before making a final choice, you want to know if the car you are buying will give you the best mileage possible. In today’s market, that determination is not an easy task. Even the experts don’t agree on the best way to achieve the most fuel efficiency.
Recent changes in how fuel economy is measured as well as how to achieve it obfuscate direct number comparisons, but one thing hasn’t changed, and that is: mileage depends upon how the car is operated. Highway driving, or mountainous terrain or in-city traffic with jack-rabbit acceleration at stoplights will profoundly effect mileage.
Thanks to new technology, we now have Hybrids with both gas and electric power to propel the car, and for 2009, VW has reintroduced the Jetta TDi that can provide mileage better than hybrids under some common operating conditions. Also, the gasoline engine that is sufficiently efficient and volumetrically appropriate can offer another competitive choice, if simplicity of service and familiarity is desired.
EPA mileage numbers on new car stickers are calculated differently to produce numbers closer to what the average driver will obtain. While the results seem to indicate new cars are not as fuel efficient as older models, this is not necessarily true, it is the government regulation for calculation that has changed because of changes in driving conditions.
While hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid are top contenders in city traffic, our recent test of the VW Jetta TDi clean diesel surpasses both on the highway or on performance demanding back country roads, and expect new diesel models from other manufacturers soon. How you drive is as important as the kind of power plant you choose in determining your mileage.
Our choice for best mileage is the all electric car. Several electric car makers have announced new cars to be in showrooms before year end. Even venerable General Motors says the Chevrolet Volt and an electric model from Saturn will be 2009 models. Some plug-in electrics have given a cost per mile of $.03! How’s that, drivewise? ?



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