Mileage Reviews

Make no mistake about it. We do car reviews differently at Our fuel economy focused mileage reviews deliver a unique perspective by consistently testing each vehicle with a light-footed driving style. Over time, our mileage review testing procedure has evolved to include a specific highway circuit. We don’t test in a lab or on a closed course. Our highway miles are rolled up in the real world, on a forty mile loop of Interstate highway that includes a good number of grade changes and variable traffic conditions. Each vehicle runs a minimum of two loops on the highway circuit.

The highway mileage review always starts with a run with the cruise control set to 68 miles per hour (MPH) to establish a baseline. Then the second run is undertaken with the cruise control off at speeds between 60-72 MPH.

We’ve been able to exceed the cruise control numbers, vehicle after vehicle, simply by using a light foot. Significant gains in mileage are possible when you take advantage of inertia, and these gains are maximized with advanced automatic transmissions. To be clear, we always keep it in gear. Our mileage review procedure never includes coasting in neutral. Nor do we rely on other dangerous techniques such as drafting.

We rely on the on-board fuel consumption displays for highway figures, averaging out the runs. While this data can fluctuate, we always confirm the combined mileage via tank fills. Our mileage reviews are typically limited to a one-week period and we strive to put at least 400 miles on each vehicle over the course of the week. Ideally, we would like to test for thousands of miles with each vehicle, but this is not currently practical from either an economic or logistical standpoint.

As of this writing, we have yet to see a vehicle that has failed to hit its numbers. It’s essential to keep in mind that the stated official estimates are just that … the fine print always shows a range and our goal in real world road testing is to come as close to the high end of the range as possible. Our experience has provided a rather interesting perspective on the performance and capabilities of the various manufacturers, as they relate to the official estimates. A white paper is in the works.

As we consider future direction, one possible scenario includes a fully transparent mileage review procedure that presents a comprehensive data set for each vehicle for public consumption. While this avenue would require a significant infusion of capital, it will provide a remarkable alternative.

2 thoughts on “Mileage Reviews”

  1. FINALLY, someone who tests vehicles for the mileage they are capable of and not just what the manufacturer says they should get. I am so tired of getting mpg results from a lead-footed car magazine staffer which is usually just over the city mpg rating.

    I have a 2004 Chevrolet Colorado (extended cab, 3.5 liter I-5, 4-speed automatic) and while on a 300-mile highway trip @ 60 mph, I managed to get 31.4 mpg….and the truck is only rated at 24 mpg on the highway. Slow down. Drive smart.

    Keep up the great work and the informative articles!


    Paul C. Nation

  2. Many thanks for the kind words and congrats on the excellent results in your Chevy pickup, Paul!

    There’s no doubt about it … the fastest route to better mileage is through conscientious driving. Everyone can learn how to boost their MPGs through simple techniques, no matter what they might drive.

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