Fuel Mileage – How High Can It Go?

While Americans typically refer to gas mileage, rather than fuel mileage, there’s a change afoot.

Highly fuel-efficient clean diesel-equipped vehicles have finally begun to reach our shores, and little-by-little, they’re making an impact. Time to adjust the lexicon. It’s fuel mileage, not gas mileage, when you’re driving a diesel.

Last month, I had the good fortune to interview a globe-hopping fuel economy record-setting couple from Australia, John and Helen Taylor, who had just set a new Guinness World Record for fuel mileage in a trip through the 48 states. The Taylors achieved an amazing 58.82 miles per gallon (MPG) in over 9000 miles of driving in a brand new clean diesel 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. That’s a number that couldn’t be touched with the current crop of hybrids.

We can thank the German manufacturers for making heavy investments in the technology.

The VW Jettas are the first of the clean diesels to arrive. Next up are the Audi Q7 and BMW 335d, with the Audi A4 to follow at some point in 2009 or 2010. Just this month, Audi ran a cross-country dieselfest, inviting automotive journalists from around the globe to partake in a coast-to-coast voyage to bring light to the excellent fuel mileage results of their fleet of clean diesel-equipped A3s, A4s, and Q7s.

The best is yet to come.

Small displacement diesel engines can deliver remarkable fuel mileage. Acura will have an i-CDTi diesel under the hood of their TSX (based on the European Accord) hopefully by the spring.

While Mercedes-Benz has offered diesels here in the States for decades, it’s been a while since those engines could be found in their least-expensive models on this side of the pond. Take the diminutive Mercedes-Benz A-Class 160 CDI BlueEfficiency, for example; with its stop/start technology, the 160 CDI scores a remarkable 53.3 Urban / 74.4 Extra-urban and 64.2 combined miles per British gallon. That equates to roughly 44.4 City / 61.9 Highway and 53.5 combined in US miles per gallon.

A while back, I wrote about a half a dozen American-made Chryslers with fuel mileage over 35 MPG … cars that are built here, but cannot be purchased here. If Chrysler had been able to sell those cars here, would they be in their current shape?

General Motors and Ford have been slow with regard to implementing diesel technology in domestic cars. While they both build and sell highly fuel-efficient clean diesel vehicles in Europe, they’ve chosen not to sell them here, at least not yet.

We’re looking forward to the day.

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6 thoughts on “Fuel Mileage – How High Can It Go?”

  1. WOW…. you must’ve been on one heck of a flat road to get those numbers…. or not. I just can’t wait till my engine is properly broken in. Then I can switch from my lead foot…. hahaha.

  2. I recently read on the Comcast Web page that BMW will have a 100 MPG car on the street by 2010 in Europe. I check with BMW dealers in Vt and they do not know if that story is true. Why would Comcast show a story if it was not true. Does anyone have the true followup on this story?

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