Ok, it's a little off topic compared to what's usually on the blog, but lots of people are venturing out of the city on weekends, and everyone is feeling the pinch at the pump when they do so. I have long argued with friends and family about how driving technique can have a big impact on gas mileage. So, this weekend, I took my late model SUV (I know, a poor choice) to the Hamptons and back and took careful note of my gas mileage by on board computer and I carefully watched my driving style. What I found was that over 250 miles of driving in urban, rural, and city locales, my mileage was 30% higher than the manufacturer stated. My vehicle is estimated at 14mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined. My results, 17mpg city, 26mpg highway and combined, close to 21 mpg. How did I do it? It's called "Coasting".
"Coasting" is a technique that goes to various extremes to conserve gas and limits stops and starts. Some who have adopted the technique go to the dangerous extreme of turning off the engine, or shifting into neutral after they have achieved a sustainable speed. I'd never do that, but I have managed to resist the urge to "punch it" when maneuvering on the highway. Here is how I conserve through coasting:
1- Rather than blasting the gas pedal to speed up (hitting 7000rpm), I go for a more gradual speed up (2000-3000rpm) to get up to my desired speed.
2- I leave a fair amount of distance between my car and the car ahead of me. This allows me to lay off the gas pedal and coast when someone is braking in front of me. Usually the car ahead will pick up speed before I have to hit the brakes.
3- On downhill stretches I see how far I can go maintaining speed without hitting the gas. When I do have to hit the gas, I do it gradually.
I have found the technique to be easy on both gas and the breaks. Over 250 miles, I managed to save almost 4 gallons of gas, and at $4.29 a gallon out East, that adds up quickly.