The Truth About Cars » Fuel Economy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 21 May 2015 20:00:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Fuel Economy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Study: 2025 54.5 MPG CAFE Target Within Reach http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/study-2025-54-5-mpg-cafe-target-within-reach/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/study-2025-54-5-mpg-cafe-target-within-reach/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 19:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071722 Per a new study by the Consumer Federation of America, U.S. average new-car fuel efficiency is well on its way to hitting the 54.5-mpg target set for 2025. The study looked over 1,163 new models, finding those rated at 23 mpg and above by the EPA gained a couple of percentage points between 2014 and […]

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White House 2025 54.5 MPG Graphic

Per a new study by the Consumer Federation of America, U.S. average new-car fuel efficiency is well on its way to hitting the 54.5-mpg target set for 2025.

The study looked over 1,163 new models, finding those rated at 23 mpg and above by the EPA gained a couple of percentage points between 2014 and 2015, rising from 50.5 percent to 52 percent of overall new-car sales, Edmunds reports. Meanwhile, those averaging 16 mpg and below declined from 8.5 percent of sales last year, to 6.1 percent this year.

Taking the 2015 podium for complying with the fuel economy standards among their fleets, Honda held onto its gold with 57 percent over 2014’s 51 percent, while Volvo jumped from having no models in compliance to 29 percent. Mercedes took home the bronze by increasing fleet compliance to 18 percent of its models, compared to 12 percent last year.

On the other end, the CFA found a few automakers lost their footing in compliance, with Kia and Subaru making the biggest drops (18 percent and 48 percent respectively in 2015, 40 percent and 75 percent in 2014), and General Motors falling eight percentage points to 19 percent.

The group notes this is due to a boom in new truck and SUV sales, which made up half of all new-vehicle sales for the 2015 model year. Overall compliance remained stable (53 percent this year compared to 58 percent last year), while compliance rates among trucks and SUVs fell from 80 percent to 35 percent.

Despite the few stumbling blocks, CFA’s automotive expert, Jack Gillis, says the industry can achieve the 2025 CAFE target, a standards representing “a historic consensus that brought together automakers, labor unions, consumer organizations and environmental groups to benefit our national and economic security, the environment and consumers through reduced fuel consumption and more vehicle choices.”

[Image credit: WhiteHouse.gov]

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GM Hints At Aluminum Bodies During $5.4B Investment Announcement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gm-hints-aluminum-bodies-5-4b-investment-announcement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/gm-hints-aluminum-bodies-5-4b-investment-announcement/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1058530 During its announcement of a $5.4-billion investment into its facilities, General Motors hinted at possibly making the switch to aluminum bodies. Part of the investment would go into the Warren Technical Center in Warren, Mich., where a revamp of its prototype plant would accommodate aluminum, steel, and blended steel/aluminum bodies, The Detroit Bureau reports. Currently, […]

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General Motors RenCen Signage Circa August 2006

During its announcement of a $5.4-billion investment into its facilities, General Motors hinted at possibly making the switch to aluminum bodies.

Part of the investment would go into the Warren Technical Center in Warren, Mich., where a revamp of its prototype plant would accommodate aluminum, steel, and blended steel/aluminum bodies, The Detroit Bureau reports.

Currently, aluminum has been used on some components and panels for a number of models as the automaker continues its experiments in lightweighting that began with the first Corvette. This is set to change with the upcoming Cadillac CT6, which uses the alloy throughout the majority of the body, while the firewall and floor pan are stamped from steel.

With ever-stringent fuel economy standards looming on the horizon — including the 54.5 mpg fleet fuel economy average set for 2025 — GM may apply aluminum to more of its vehicles to help meet the mandate, as the metal is easier to use than other lightweight materials such as carbon fiber.

However, aluminum is more expensive than steel, which may prompt the automaker to use it on luxury vehicles or on trucks and SUVs, following Ford’s extensive use of aluminum on the new F-150.

Steel, meanwhile, won’t be going away. The steel industry has made gains in developing lighter, stronger alloys, while automakers like GM are using blended sandwich-style body panels to reduce noise.

[Photo credit: Joseph Novak/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Automakers Consider Octane Increase For Better Fuel Economy, Emissions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-consider-octane-ratings-increase-better-fuel-economy-emissions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-consider-octane-ratings-increase-better-fuel-economy-emissions/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055201 Automakers are looking to boost octane in the gasoline consumers use as a possible new tool to cheaply and easily meet ever-tightening standards. At the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit last week, panelists representing Ford, General Motors, Chevron, and Renewable Fuels Association discussed the idea of raising the octane rating of regular gasoline from 87 […]

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Octane Ratings With 2013 Fuel Prices

Automakers are looking to boost octane in the gasoline consumers use as a possible new tool to cheaply and easily meet ever-tightening standards.

At the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit last week, panelists representing Ford, General Motors, Chevron, and Renewable Fuels Association discussed the idea of raising the octane rating of regular gasoline from 87 to 95, Automotive News reports.

The group agreed that by doing so, fuel economy would climb between 3 percent and 6 percent while also lowering CO2 emissions by 2 percent. In turn, the engineers could make a few modifications to the pistons and/or cylinder heads in order to increase a given engine’s compression ratio – a process that can occur quickly with little in the way of investment or labor – to enable the use of higher-octane fuels.

However, boosting the octane rating would also boost the price per gallon of gasoline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration noted that the current gulf between regular and high-octane blends comes to an average of 37 cents as of last week. While automakers aren’t willing to make their consumers pay more at the pump for the touted improvements, they’re also finding less inexpensive methods to meet increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions standards, such as the 2025 mandate of 54.5 mpg fleet average.

Another problem: as newer vehicles with higher-compression engines would benefit from the increase in octane, Chevron research engineer Amir Maria said most vehicles on the road at present would be better off on 87 octane – the rating the engines were calibrated to run – and consumers would be dinged by as much as $1,500 more over 200,000 miles if they went for 95 octane.

[Photo credit: Upupa4me/Flickr]

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Edmunds: Millennials Savvier Car Shoppers Via Mobile Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/edmunds-millennials-savvier-car-shoppers-via-mobile-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/edmunds-millennials-savvier-car-shoppers-via-mobile-technology/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032593 According to a study, Millennials not only prefer to shop for cars via mobile devices, but also at the dealership. Per Edmunds, who commissioned the study earlier this year, 73 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 34 proclaim to be more knowledgeable about the car-buying process than their parents, while over half “actively advise their […]

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Millennials In The Back Of A Subaru BRAT

According to a study, Millennials not only prefer to shop for cars via mobile devices, but also at the dealership.

Per Edmunds, who commissioned the study earlier this year, 73 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 34 proclaim to be more knowledgeable about the car-buying process than their parents, while over half “actively advise their friends and family” on the process, compared to 37 percent of older Americans.

The study says this is due to the generation’s profieciency with mobile devices in researching the vehicles of their choice prior to purchase, from reading reviews and researching prices, to tracking down models for sale. Eighty percent of Millennials were found to have used such tactics for at least one shopping task.

Meanwhile, 64 percent stated they “valued the in-dealership experience” of face-to-face interaction with dealers, and 96 percent said that it was important to test-drive a vehicle before purchase. Purchases skew towards the used market, where 78 percent of Millennials go for their purchases, 72 percent have considered EVs or hybrids, and 66 percent hope to one day own a car that does all the driving for them.

Regarding technology, while smartphone integration and Wi-Fi are important, such features rank behind price, fuel economy and performance.

The study consisted of two surveys conducted in January and March of 2015, with 1,500 and 1,000 adults between 18 and 34 years of age who made a vehicle purchase within the previous three months polled.

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EPA: Industry Exceeded National GHG Emissions Standards In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/epa-industry-exceeded-national-ghg-emissions-standards-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/epa-industry-exceeded-national-ghg-emissions-standards-2013/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1030249 According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the auto industry outperformed national greenhouse gas emissions standards for a second consecutive year. For MY 2013 vehicles, the average GHG emission came to 12 grams per mile — 1.4 miles per gallon — better than what was required by the 2013 standard. The EPA also found that MY […]

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2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Rear 3/4 View, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the auto industry outperformed national greenhouse gas emissions standards for a second consecutive year.

For MY 2013 vehicles, the average GHG emission came to 12 grams per mile — 1.4 miles per gallon — better than what was required by the 2013 standard. The EPA also found that MY 2013 vehicles delivered an all-time high average fuel economy of 24.1 mpg, while CO2 emissions remain at a record low. The agency notes that automakers are achieving these gains through the use of optional flexibilities, including fleet averaging and improved air conditioning systems.

The GHG standards cover light-duty vehicles made from MY 2012 through MY 2025, and are expected to save 12 billion barrels of oil while cutting 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases “over the lifetimes of vehicles sold in these years.” The EPA says most manufacturers — “representing more than 99% of sales” — met both 2012 and 2013 standards, while the rest have “several more years to come into compliance.”

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Question Of The Day: How Would You Reform CAFE? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-reform-cafe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-reform-cafe/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:54:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029337 In response to today’s editorial on the CAFE overview, reader jmo proposed a novel solution to the very idea of regulating fuel economy. Jmo writes: “We don’t need to scrap CAFE” Sure we do and replace it with a $2/gallon gas tax. To hell you say, abolish both. But, between CAFE and fracking we’ve really […]

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Gas Prices Circa December 2014

In response to today’s editorial on the CAFE overview, reader jmo proposed a novel solution to the very idea of regulating fuel economy.

Jmo writes:

“We don’t need to scrap CAFE”

Sure we do and replace it with a $2/gallon gas tax.

To hell you say, abolish both. But, between CAFE and fracking we’ve really put the screws to Iran, Venezuela and Russia. I’m all for the free market but we also have geopolitical enemies that need to be dealt with and low oil prices are far more productive than wars at keeping our enemies in check.

I like the idea of a gas tax in place of CAFE. Let the people buying the gas guzzlers take the hit, rather than punish the consumers with vehicles that designed around a deeply flawed set of regulations. In countries where gasoline taxes are higher, consumers tend to gravitate towards smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles.

Unless you’re Canada, where the Ford F-Series, Ram 1500 and GM full-size trucks still dominate the sales charts. Canadian consumers do tend to shy away from thirstier passenger cars, but they love their pickups, and are willing to shell out at the pump in exchange for the chance to drive one.

Let’s hear your thoughts or alternative suggestions below

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Review: 2015 Honda CR-V Touring (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-honda-cr-v-touring-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-honda-cr-v-touring-video/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 21:24:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004938 Refreshed, redesigned or updated, whatever you want to call the changes to the CR-V for the 2015 model year, it’s hard to argue with this model’s success. The CR-V isn’t just the best-selling compact crossover in America, it’s the best-selling crossover period and the 7th best-selling vehicle overall. With sales success on the line Honda […]

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2015 Honda CR-V Exterior Front

Refreshed, redesigned or updated, whatever you want to call the changes to the CR-V for the 2015 model year, it’s hard to argue with this model’s success. The CR-V isn’t just the best-selling compact crossover in America, it’s the best-selling crossover period and the 7th best-selling vehicle overall. With sales success on the line Honda did what any Japanese company would do: make minor changes that give you more of what shoppers want without upsetting the apple cart. Does that make the CR-V just right? Or is it a compact bore-box?

Honda gave the CR-V its last redesign as a 2012 model year vehicle. The “old Honda” would have allowed the CR-V age unchanged for 5-6 years, but the new Honda seems to prefer making incremental changes to keep things fresh. While the 2012 CR-V wasn’t the same kind of mis-step the press thought the 2012 Civic was, competition is fierce and the 2012-2014 CR-V’s performance and fuel economy weren’t exactly compelling.

Exterior

Because this is a refresh and not a redesign, none of the “hard points” in the vehicle changed. Up front we get more modern looking headlamps with LED DRLs in most models and the fog lamps became rectangular. The grill has lost the Ford-like horizontal slats in favor of a simpler design with a larger Honda logo and a chrome “smile” reminiscent of the Accord and Civic. Changes to the rear are similar with new lamp modules, a tweaked bumper with silver painted inserts, more chrome on the tailgate and a style that still reminds me of a Volvo wagon in a way.

2015 Honda CR-V Dashboard

Interior

The CR-V’s interior slots somewhere between the Civic and the Accord in terms of both quality and theme. The instrument cluster is [thankfully] styled after the Accord with a large central speedometer flanked by three additional physical gauges.  The small monochrome LCD in the center of the speedometer is still a novel concept, but five years after Honda launched this look it is starting to feel dated compared to the large color LCDs you find in some of the competition. The dashboard and doors are a combination of hard and soft plastics which is again a middle road between the Civic and the Accord. For 2015 Honda has added a few extra features to keep things fresh including a standard console armrest, telescoping sun visors and rear HVAC vents. Since the CR-V never suffered from the unfortunate amount of questionable plastics that the 2012 Civic had, Honda spent the interior budget largely on the infotainment system.

2015 Honda CR-V HondaLink.CR2Infotainment

Base CR-V LX models get a 4-speaker 160-watt sound system controlled by large physical buttons and the same small screen that also handles trip computer functions (at the top of the picture above). Thankfully EX and above (which are the majority of sales) use essentially the same 7-inch touchscreen system found in the current Honda Civic with physical buttons instead of touch-controls. Dubbed HondaLink Next Generation, this is not the same system you find in the Accord. Rather it is Honda’s lower cost alternative which I think is also a better value. While there aren’t as many built-in features as you find in the Accord, this system has all the basics like Pandora and Aha streaming, Bluetooth and USB/iDevice integration and available factory navigation. Unlike many systems however it also supports iPhone integrated navigation via a $60 app. (Sorry Android users, there is no love for you at this time.) Unlike the BrinGo navigation we find in certain GM products, this solution doesn’t just store data on the phone and have the head unit render the mapping interface. Instead the iPhone is generating all the video and processing touch inputs but the head unit is displaying the video via an HDMI cable. Shoppers should note that this is not Apple CarPlay but Honda’s own solution that was created prior to CarPlay and is not upgradeable to support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. For occasional nav users this represents a significant discount over the factory software (assuming you have an iPhone) but there are some limitations. Your iPhone has to stay on the nav app for the system to work, so if you check your email at a stop light, the nav map will disappear. Your iPhone’s data plan will of course get consumed and if you’re out of a coverage area then your mapping will be limited or non-existent depending on how much your device has cached.

 

honda-diagram-1Drivetrain

The biggest change for 2015 is under the hood where we find a revised version of the 2.4L “EarthDreams” four-cylinder engine we saw in the 2013 Honda Accord. For 2015 Honda has added counter-rotating balance shafts to try and help cancel out some of the vibrations. Power stays the same as before at 185 ponies, but torque is up to 181 lb-ft and across a broader range than in 2014.

In order to improve efficiency, Honda does something a little different with this 2.4L engine, they offset the cylinders about 8mm from the engine’s centerline. This trades reduced friction for increased vibration, hence the need for the additional balance shafts. The balance shafts certainly help, but some customers have complained about the added vibration especially at idle and indeed it is not as smooth as the 2014 model. Is the vibration worth a 4 MPG bump in the city and 3 MPG improvement overall? I’d say so, but be sure to sound off in the comment section. Also improving economy is an AWD capable version of the CVT found in the Accord bumping the numbers to 27 / 34 / 29 (City / Highway / Combined) for FWD models and 26 / 33 / 28 for AWD.

Front Wheel Drive Biased Transverse AWD System, Drawing Courtesy of Alex L. DykesAWD Controversy

My favorite Swedish magazine, Teknikens Värld, has a winter capability test where they put the test vehicle on a slope and the front wheels on rollers. The test is to see if 100% of the engine power can be sent to the rear wheels. Note that the 100% is essential here, because the incline and front wheels on the rollers makes sure no traction exists on the front axle. The CR-V failed this test because Honda’s AWD control system is programed to not lock the clutch pack if it detects zero traction up front and 100% in the rear. It also appears that traction control was disabled in the test. (The CR-V is not designed to be RWD essentially.) You will note in the diagram above that this type of system can lock the center clutch pack and get a 50/50 power split front/rear like a vehicle with a traditional transfer case, or it can slip that clutch pack to vary things from 100/0 to 50/50 assuming no wheel slip.

When wheel slip occurs, something different happens. Say just one front wheel sips. The front differential, being an open unit would send power to the wheel that is slipping, this action essentially causes the power balance to shift to the rear up to a power balance around 20/80. Leaving the traction control on, the slipping front wheel would be braked until it was spinning the same relative rate as the others. This would return the system to a 50/50 power balance because even if the front wheel was up in the air, the brakes on that wheel would be “consuming” the 50% of the power on that axle to maintain the power balance. The CR-V’s AWD system is designed to operate in this 50/50 window without issue. With your front wheels on ice and your rear wheels on tarmac, the front wheels will always have some traction and the traction control will help keep things in balance. Similarly in off-camber situations in snow with one wheel in the air, the brake based system will keep things in line. Pop the CR-V up on rollers however and the system things something is wrong.

The bottom line is that the CR-V is not a Jeep Cherokee, it was not designed with locking differentials and not designed with the Rubicon Trail in mind. It was however designed with the urban jungle and 2015 snowpocalypse in mind and 99.9% of shoppers will never even know there was a controversy. If you’re the 0.01% of shoppers that lives in a roller factory, there could be an issue of course. Is the Jeep system “superior?” Yes, but for most folks it’s also overkill.

2015 Honda CR-V EarthDreams 2.4L Engine-001

Drive

The popularity of the CR-V is no surprise when you get behind the wheel. The CR-V drives like a slightly taller Accord which makes sense as the ground clearance has dropped over time as the CR-V has transformed from trucklet to tall wagon. The compact CUV doesn’t handle as well as the Mazda CX-5, but the wide tires, relatively light curb weight and moderately firm suspension certainly place the CUV at top end of the segment.

Thanks to the improved torque band and the continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has a much lower starting ratio than the old 5-speed (13.3:1 vs 11.7:1), the CR-V is notably faster off the line and hit 60 MPH nearly second faster than the 2014 model. Similarly the higher effective “top gear” ratio is the key to the CR-V’s large jump in the fuel economy score. As with the Accord and Civic which also use Honda’s new CVT tech, the CR-V’s transmission changes ratios much more rapidly than the Nissan Rogue’s more traditional CVT. The feel is more like a stepped automatic’s downshift than the rubber-bandy feeling you get in the Nissan.

2015 Honda CR-V Instrument Cluster-001

Thanks to the programming of the CVT, fuel economy has indeed improved over the 2014 model coming in at 27.5 MPG, just 1/2 an MPG shy of the EPA rating for our AWD tester despite my commute over a 2,200ft mountain pass daily. Thanks to the lower torque band of the EarthDreams engine, the CVT can keep the engine at a lower and more efficient RPM more of the time. Unfortunately higher torque outputs at low RPMs tend to highlight the new engine’s cylinder offset which, as I said earlier, trades smoothness for efficiency. Many of you on Facebook asked if I encountered the vibrations that some shoppers have complained about and indeed I did. Was it bad? No. Was it noticeable? Yes. Would it keep me from buying the CR-V over something else? No, because for me the MPG improvement is enough of an incentive to overlook it.

2015 also brings some tweaks to the suspension and sound insulation improving ride and cabin noise by a hair. Perhaps the biggest change for the CR-V out on the road has nothing to do with the driveline or suspension however, it’s the infusion of some Acura driving aids. The new Touring model comes standard with radar adaptive cruise control, a lane keeping system that steers you back into your lane and Acura’s Collision Mitigating Braking System or CMBS which will autonomously brake the vehicle if it believes a collision is imminent and you’re going above 10 MPH. While this isn’t breaking any ground, it does help the CR-V stay competitive with the Forester’s camera-based EyeSight system and the Cherokee’s latest radar based features. The Honda system isn’t as smooth as the Jeep system, but it is more natural than the Subaru system, works better in poor weather where the camera systems become less functional and supports a broader range of speeds.

2015 Honda CR-V Exterior.CR2

Ranging between $23,445 and $32,895 the CR-V straddles the middle in this segment after you’ve adjusted for feature content. The Forester is less expensive and more capable, but the interior is more down-market, no surprise since the standard AWD means it starts about $2,500 less than a comparable Honda. The Cherokee is the most rugged and capable vehicle in this segment but the off-road ability takes a toll on cargo room and handling while bumping the curb weight north of 4,000lbs in some trims. The RAV4’s latest redesign saw the demise of the optional 3rd row and the V6, (the two prime reasons for buying a RAV4 over the CR-V) and the addition of plenty of questionable plastics on the inside. Mazda’s CX-5 handles extremely well but isn’t as comfortable or as large inside and until the 2016 model arrives, the infotainment system is archaic.

Oddly enough, the fact that the CR-V fails to be the best in the segment in any particular category is actually the key to its success. It’s easy to create the cheapest or best off-road compact crossover (the bar is after all kind of low), a little harder to make the best handling crossover, but making a crossover that averages consistently high marks in every category is quite an undertaking. While the CR-V’s AWD system has received bad press, the same thing applies there. The AWD system isn’t the most capable in this segment but it is perfectly acceptable and won’t leave you stranded on your way to Aspen. The CR-V may lack the charm it once had, but it is still the best all-around vehicle in this segment.

 

Honda provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.2

0-60: 7.79

1/4 mile: 16.4 Seconds @ 87.5 MPH

2015 Honda CR-V Cargo Area.CR2 2015 Honda CR-V Cargo Area 2015 Honda CR-V Cargo Area-001 2015 Honda CR-V Console.CR2 2015 Honda CR-V Dash.CR2 2015 Honda CR-V Dashboard 2015 Honda CR-V Dashboard-001 2015 Honda CR-V Dashboard-002 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior Front.CR2 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior Front 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior Rear 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior Side 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior.CR2 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior.CR2-001 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior-001 2015 Honda CR-V Exterior-002 2015 Honda CR-V HondaLink.CR2 2015 Honda CR-V Infotainment 2015 Honda CR-V Instrument Cluster 2015 Honda CR-V Instrument Cluster-001 2015 Honda CR-V Interior 2015 Honda CR-V Interior-001 2015 Honda CR-V Trip Computer.CR2

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Analysis: EPA Revising Fuel Economy Testing Guidelines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/analysis-epa-revising-fuel-economy-testing-guidelines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/analysis-epa-revising-fuel-economy-testing-guidelines/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:10:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006610 After a series of scandals involving incorrect fuel economy ratings, the EPA is revising its self-reporting guidelines for auto maker fuel economy standards, in a bid to ensure greater accuracy in the real world. Currently, manufacturers are responsible for conducting their own tests according to EPA guidelines. While the new regulations cover the preparation of […]

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2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Fuel Economy Display, 49MPG, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

After a series of scandals involving incorrect fuel economy ratings, the EPA is revising its self-reporting guidelines for auto maker fuel economy standards, in a bid to ensure greater accuracy in the real world.

Currently, manufacturers are responsible for conducting their own tests according to EPA guidelines. While the new regulations cover the preparation of the vehicle in advance of the test, the Detroit News also reports that a key metric is being revised to closer match real world driving conditions

Also at issue are “road load” tests used to determine the impact of aerodynamic drag and tire rolling resistance on gas mileage. Currently, that is measured at 50 miles per hour. Under the new guidelines, automakers must measure the results at all speeds up to 70 mph.

The relatively slow speeds can often equal a highway fuel economy figure that is optimistic compared to what drivers can expect in real world conditions. The EPA also intends to close the loophole used by Ford that allowed it to assign the same fuel economy ratings for the C-Max and Fusion Hybrid models. This loophole allows auto makers to state the fuel economy rating of the “volume” model for a group of vehicles that use the same powertrain. In this case, Ford was able to use the superior Fusion’s rating for the C-Max (which got 43 mpg to the Fusion’s 47). Ford ended up re-stating fuel economy figures for the C-Max and compensating owners for delivering poorer than advertised fuel economy.

But the new guidelines are just that. Speaking to the paper, the EPA’s Chris Grundler said that drafting new, legally binding rules would take two to three years, which is too much time in their eyes

“Writing regulations takes time…When you are working in the rapidly changing environment that we’re in right now, we want to make sure that we are agile enough and flexible enough to change with those times.”

As we’ve noted in the past, the EPA’s fuel economy standards need a significant overhaul. The new “guidelines” simply don’t go far enough. The EPA only audits around 10 to 15 percent of vehicles per year, relying on the manufacturers to provide accurate claims for the rest of the fleet. Meanwhile, the test procedures themselves can be gamed due to powertrain calibration that takes advantage of the test parameters.

The test itself, as some have suggested, is really oriented more towards emissions than fuel consumption. If that’s the case, why not overhaul it to be more like the European tests that measure CO2 – which happen to be undergoing their own revamping right now to better ensure real world relevance? Both tests also give far too much leeway to small turbocharged engines, which are notorious for performing well on the test and then wildly missing their stated fuel economy in the real world.

With fuel economy figures becoming an increasingly important part of consumer decision-making – and auto maker marketing campaigns, the need for a more accurate fuel economy testing procedure has never been greater. The new guidelines are a step in the right direction, if nothing else. But they could go further.

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Chart Of The Day: Is Minivan Fuel Mileage A Big Part Of The Problem? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chart-day-minivan-fuel-mileage-big-part-problem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chart-day-minivan-fuel-mileage-big-part-problem/#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 13:21:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004658 “America’s minivan segment generated only 3.4% of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle volume in 2014, down from 5.2% in 2007.” So said I earlier this week in my review of the updated 2015 Toyota Sienna, the only remaining all-wheel-drive minivan. The Sienna was America’s top-selling minivan in each of the last three months. And […]

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Minivan fuel economy chart 2015“America’s minivan segment generated only 3.4% of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle volume in 2014, down from 5.2% in 2007.”

So said I earlier this week in my review of the updated 2015 Toyota Sienna, the only remaining all-wheel-drive minivan.

The Sienna was America’s top-selling minivan in each of the last three months. And although the accompanying chart displays its official EPA mileage ratings at 16/23 mpg on the city and highway, front-wheel-drive Siennas are rated at 18/25. Forget the 14.4 mpg we saw during our test. Temperatures were brutal, the vehicle spent much of its time idling as we attempted to clear it (along with every other car on the street) of multiple inches of ice, the city streets on which the Sienna spent most of its stay were mostly snow-covered, and the van was fresh off the assembly line.

But could we have reasonably expected more than 16 mpg in city driving? Not according to the EPA.

A 2005 all-wheel-drive Sienna was also rated at 16 miles per gallon in the city, and it was marked down on the highway by just one mpg compared with our 2015 version. But at that time, the most efficient 4WD Ford F-150 was rated at 13 mpg in the city.

Pickup trucks have made massive progress. Ford’s 2.7L EcoBoost V6 is rated at 18 mpg in 4WD trim today.

Minivans are impressive vehicles. But are we surprised that in a relatively em-pee-gee-conscious society, a dearth of progress will be rewarded when other vehicle categories are leaping forward?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Piston Slap: Doesn’t Panther Love do Everything? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-doesnt-panther-love-everything/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-doesnt-panther-love-everything/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 13:44:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993298 Max writes: Sajeev, After following your and TTAC’s collective wisdom regarding Panthers, I have enjoyed four and a half years of somewhat trouble-free $1000 police-auction 2001 Crown Victoria ownership. The Crown Vic is a wonderful first car and I love it dearly, despite – or maybe especially – because it taught me a lot about […]

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Max writes:

Sajeev,
After following your and TTAC’s collective wisdom regarding Panthers, I have enjoyed four and a half years of somewhat trouble-free $1000 police-auction 2001 Crown Victoria ownership. The Crown Vic is a wonderful first car and I love it dearly, despite – or maybe especially – because it taught me a lot about the finer points of its drive train, front end etc. as I eventually ended up parking-lot and shade-tree repairing or replacing just about every major component other than the exhaust and transmission. However, it might now be time to look into a successor for my trusty ride.

More specifically, I am looking for a vehicle around $5500 or so that 1). Is generally known to be reliable and have low operating expenses, 2). Gets good highway mileage (let’s set the baseline at upper teens) and is comfortable to drive cross-country – my job periodically entails eating up a lot of miles on the road- 3). Has a four wheel drive or is otherwise off road capable– I need to drive up poorly-maintained remote service roads for work – 4). can tow a small camper cross-country, or a livestock or horse trailer ( for low-speed short-haul work), and can stand up to general farmwork – haul or tow a couple dozen bales of hay or more, manure, rolls of fencing, chickens, calves, half a cord of wood, etc. Ease-of repair and cheap parts are a plus. 5). Is comfortable to sleep in, if need be- also a work possibility- and 6). Front bench seat, and stick shift are preferred.

Even though a pickup might be a good fit, I’m trying to stay open-minded and would appreciate any advice: I am not stuck on any one brand or type of vehicle.

Or maybe I could listen to Sanjeev’s advice and go Mad-Maxize the Crown Vic with a 6″ lift and self-leveling kit, transmission intercooler, towing package, 30” offroad tires and roll cage and keep it forever – what’re your two cents?

Thanks for all of your advice over the years!

Sajeev answers:

Thank you for reading all these years. It’s both exciting and horrifying to hear you’ve taken my our advice to heart!

That said, what kind of Lover considers open-mindedness regarding Panther Love? You, as a Crown Victoria owner, are a stubborn traditionalist with a nearly xenophobic reaction to non body-on-frame platforms.  You remain as “unmodified” as the Panther since 1979: toe the autojourno’s line!

Let’s be serious: anyone needing something for “general farmwork” with a career driving on rural roads needs a body-on-frame vehicle to handle the beating and the towing.  Keyword: Towing.  The truck is almost mandatory, but $5500 makes it hard to get one that isn’t beat to shit, packed with a ton of miles or well over a decade old. Good thing you can get your hands dirty, vehicles at this price need something. Always.

What’s the right move?  Get the cleanest, most well maintained V6 Toyota Tacoma, Chevy S-10/Colorado or Ford Ranger in your price ranger (oops). Good luck finding one with a stick, or lose efficiency and get a full sizer (small V8, automatic) from any of the Big Three for the same price.

The full-size is ideal since you might sleep in there: I slept in my Ranger once, next time I’ll splurge for a hotel.

Click here to view the embedded video.

BUT…there’s nothing like taking a nap in the back of Panther Love. Maybe these YouTube videos are right: stick with your current Crown Vic until you can afford a newer truck with all the things you need (for safe and reliable transport to work) and want (for your hobbies, farm duties, etc).

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Hybrids Down, PHEVs, EVs Up In US Sales Amid Falling Fuel Prices http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/hybrids-phevs-evs-us-sales-amid-falling-fuel-prices/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/hybrids-phevs-evs-us-sales-amid-falling-fuel-prices/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=971249 With fuel prices continuing their downward spiral, one would think EVs and hybrids would become the new Hummers and Escalades to be left to rust in the backlot of the dealership. Not quite. Detroit Free Press reports standard hybrids saw the biggest drop in sales through November 2014, from 459,375 in 2013, to 418,850. PHEVs […]

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BMW i8

With fuel prices continuing their downward spiral, one would think EVs and hybrids would become the new Hummers and Escalades to be left to rust in the backlot of the dealership. Not quite.

Detroit Free Press reports standard hybrids saw the biggest drop in sales through November 2014, from 459,375 in 2013, to 418,850. PHEVs and EVs like the BMW i8 and Nissan Leaf fared better in comparison: PHEVs rose from 43,988 to 51,490 year-over-year, and EVs jumped from 42,924 to 55,906 in the same period.

Meanwhile, SUV and trucks dominated the scene, whose rise was fueled by the improving economy and new housing starts, with lower fuel prices certainly helping matters. Sales of the former parties took 52 percent of the overall United States domestic market through November, compared 48 percent for passenger cars.

Finally, fuel economy numbers fell from a high of 25.8 mpg in August, to 25.3 mpg months later. As long as fuel prices remain on their downward trajectory, automakers may find it hard to meet the federal government’s tightening fuel standards, which are set for a fleet average of 34.1 mpg by 2016, and 54.5 mpg by 2025. The law mandating the standard is set to undergo a mid-term review in 2017.

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2015 Ford F-150 Pulls 22 MPG Combined, 12,000 Pounds Of Boat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-ford-f-150-pulls-22-mpg-combined-12000-pounds-boat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-ford-f-150-pulls-22-mpg-combined-12000-pounds-boat/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950017 So, how many miles per gallon did the 2015 Ford F-150 gain for the trouble of losing 700 pounds by gaining an aluminum body? How does 22 mpg combined sound? The 4×2 model with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost delivers 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The 19/26/22 rating bests the 2008 […]

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2015 Ford F-150

So, how many miles per gallon did the 2015 Ford F-150 gain for the trouble of losing 700 pounds by gaining an aluminum body? How does 22 mpg combined sound?

The 4×2 model with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost delivers 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The 19/26/22 rating bests the 2008 model with the 4.6-liter V8, which brought a rating of 14/19/16 to the party.

Aside from the 2.7-liter mill, the F-150 can be had with a standard 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6, 3.5-liter EcoBoost, or 5-liter Ti-VCT V8. Horsepower ranges from 282 for the V6, to 385 for the V8, while torque comes at 253 lb-ft for the former, 420 lb-ft for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost.

As far as towing boats and hay are concerned, the larger EcoBoost 4×2 pulls the most at 12,200 pounds, whereas the 5-liter V8 edges out the EcoBoost with a max payload of 3,300 to 3,270.

Per Ford, new models are being shipped to dealers now, though special orders will be delayed until February.

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Of Penalties And Priorities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/penalties-priorities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/penalties-priorities/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:01:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=941265 Yesterday’s announcement of record fines for Hyundai and Kia regarding their incorrect fuel economy claims is the strongest message yet that the Department of Justice ” firm commitment to safeguarding American consumers, ensuring fairness in every marketplace, protecting the environment, and relentlessly pursuing companies that make misrepresentations and violate the law.” But if your cars […]

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du0zq

Yesterday’s announcement of record fines for Hyundai and Kia regarding their incorrect fuel economy claims is the strongest message yet that the Department of Justice ” firm commitment to safeguarding American consumers, ensuring fairness in every marketplace, protecting the environment, and relentlessly pursuing companies that make misrepresentations and violate the law.” But if your cars kill scores of people due to neglience, you’re getting off easy.

As Ryan Beene of Automotive News reports

“…Hyundai and Kia will pay a $100 million civil penalty, spend $50 million to establish an independent fuel economy certification group and forfeit some 4.75 million greenhouse gas emission credits the companies have banked under the EPA’s tailpipe emissions regulations — estimated to be worth more than $200 million, according to a joint statement by the Justice Department and EPA.”

All totaled, up, that’s about $350 million worth of penalties. GM paid about one-tenth of that in relation to federal safety law violations stemming from the now-infamous Chevrolet Cobalt ignition switch deaths.

The penalties in the Hyundai/Kia case come despite Hyundai’s voluntary reimbursement program for owners of the affected vehicles. Hyundai/Kia aren’t the only ones to have enacted such a program either. Ford set up a similar program for owners of the C-Max and Fusion, but hasn’t been fined by the EPA for similar misstatement of fuel economy numbers.

Maybe we ought to revisit the way we test for fuel economy figures altogether?

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Report: Electric Turbocharging Could Provide Fuel Economy Boost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/report-electric-turbocharging-provide-fuel-economy-boost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/report-electric-turbocharging-provide-fuel-economy-boost/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940937 Though full electrification might not be in the cards for most consumers, those looking for turbo power for their vehicles could find a little bit of that black magic in the turbo itself down the road. A report by Navigant Research posits that the best way to eliminate lag without using a supercharger to make […]

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Valeo Electric Turbocharger

Though full electrification might not be in the cards for most consumers, those looking for turbo power for their vehicles could find a little bit of that black magic in the turbo itself down the road.

A report by Navigant Research posits that the best way to eliminate lag without using a supercharger to make up for said lag — at the expense of increased friction at higher speeds — an electric turbocharger may be the best bet yet. The technology offers a handful of improvements over exhaust-driven units, including packaging of components, responsiveness and flexibility.

Supplier Valeo recently unveiled such a piece — for 12V and 48V electrical systems — with the first applications coming online in 2016. According to their findings, the best application for the turbo is with an engine that uses cylinder deactivation to maintain fuel economy. As power is reduced with cylinder count, an electric turbo can help with small boosts in power to tackle situations that would otherwise switch all of the cylinders back on, such as mild-and-above inclines.

Meanwhile, engineers wouldn’t have to figure out where to package all of the plumbing required for an exhaust-driven turbo with an electric unit, allowing for a placement that provides the best peformance and setup.

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Hyundai, Kia Fined $300M By State, Federal Agencies Over Erroneous Fuel Economy Numbers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/hyundai-kia-fined-300m-state-federal-agencies-erroneous-fuel-economy-numbers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/hyundai-kia-fined-300m-state-federal-agencies-erroneous-fuel-economy-numbers/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940209 Being an asterisk regarding fuel economy numbers isn’t the only penance Hyundai and Kia must pay: The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board dropped a collective $300 million penalty on the South Korean brands for mistating fuel economy numbers on their respective 2011-2013 lineups. Autoblog reports the […]

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2015 Kia K900

Being an asterisk regarding fuel economy numbers isn’t the only penance Hyundai and Kia must pay: The U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board dropped a collective $300 million penalty on the South Korean brands for mistating fuel economy numbers on their respective 2011-2013 lineups.

Autoblog reports the two alone will pay a total of $100 million to the EPA, the highest such fine in the agency’s history. Hyundai’s part of the bill comes to $56.8 million, while Kia will foot the remaining $43.2 million. The brands will also forfeit 4.75 million greenhouse emissions credits, worth approximately $200 million, and contribute a requested $50 million in investments “to prevent future violations of the Clean Air Act” by automakers.

In-house, parent company Hyundai is establishing “an independent certification test group” to handle future fuel economy testing and reporting, along with training proctors on the proper methods. The company maintains the erroneous reporting was due to the methodology used in the EPA’s test schedule, as well as errors from the coastdown portion of the test.

Hyundai and Kia are also auditing 2015 and 2016 models for accurate fuel economy numbers in light of the previous errors.

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EPA: Mazda Holds Highest MPG, Lowest CO2 Averages For 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/epa-mazda-holds-highest-mpg-lowest-co2-averages-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/epa-mazda-holds-highest-mpg-lowest-co2-averages-2013/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928618 Mazda’s green vibes must just feel right with the Environmental Protection Agency, as the agency has proclaimed the automaker has the highest fuel economy and lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any automaker in 2013. Edmunds reports Mazda’s portfolio netted an average of 28.1 mpg and 316 grams/mile of CO2, followed by Honda (27.4/324), Subaru (26.7/332) […]

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Mazda6_3

Mazda’s green vibes must just feel right with the Environmental Protection Agency, as the agency has proclaimed the automaker has the highest fuel economy and lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any automaker in 2013.

Edmunds reports Mazda’s portfolio netted an average of 28.1 mpg and 316 grams/mile of CO2, followed by Honda (27.4/324), Subaru (26.7/332) and Nissan (26.2/339). Nissan also had the greatest improvement in both rankings, jumping up 2.2 mpg and cutting down 30 g/mi of CO2 compared to 2012. All four are set to continue their green ways, as well, with Mazda leading the way again for 2014 at 28.8 mpg/309 g/mi CO2.

At the bottom of the list, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles delivered an average of 20.9 mpg/425 g/mi CO2. Volkswagen AG bested the other German manufacturers with 353 g/mi CO2 and 25.7 mpg, while Hyundai and Kia continue to be footnotes due to an ongoing investigation regarding fuel economy numbers.

As stated earlier, the overall average mpg for 2013 came out to 24.1 mpg, while overall CO2 emissions averaged 369 g/mi. The EPA adds that the number of vehicles topping out at 40 mpg and above jumped from three to 26, and that the top three most fuel-efficient models for 2013 are the Chevrolet Spark (119 combined MPGe), Honda Fit EV (118) and Fiat 500e (116).

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Piston Slap: Acceptable Oil Consumption? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-acceptable-oil-consumption/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-acceptable-oil-consumption/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927746 Justin writes: Sajeev, First I wanted to let you know that nearly everyday on my lunch break I check TTAC and each time I see a Piston Slap article I always make sure to read through it.  I admire your knowledge and have learned quite a bit from your articles. I guess that I have […]

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Capture

Justin writes:

Sajeev,

First I wanted to let you know that nearly everyday on my lunch break I check TTAC and each time I see a Piston Slap article I always make sure to read through it.  I admire your knowledge and have learned quite a bit from your articles. I guess that I have a two part question.

The first part being since when has it become “acceptable” that a modern (low mileage) engine can consume a quart of oil in less than 5K miles.  Audi and VW jump the front on my mind with their 2.0T mills, but I hear more and more through the woodwork about engines drinking oil.  The second part of my question probably has more to do with correlation than causation but it seems like direct injection plays a role in this IMO unacceptable oil consumption.

Thanks!

Sajeev answers:

Why thank you for your kind words! This series is a shared duty between you the reader, me the writer and The Best and Brightest’s comments. We got a sweet little gig here, ya know?  On to your queries…

I think one could write a PhD thesis on acceptable oil consumption, as it affects damn near every manufacturer these days. Yeah, blaming Audi and VW for that is a bit disingenuous. The V-10 powered BMW M-series burned rotary Mazda-levels of oil from day one.  And cheaper, mainstream Japanese and American brands are far from exempt.

Like this thread suggests,  I reckon acceptable oil consumption stems from two things: piston ring design (low tension?) and lightweight (like 5w-20) oils. Think about how many modern mills effortlessly zing the rev counter well past 6000 RPM and last for years with great horsepower figures AND fantastic fuel economy.  Perhaps the downside to living in this new Golden Age of Automotive Engineering is a fraction of a quart of oil burning between service intervals.

I’m not saying its right or wrong, as I don’t know the right engine design and oil weight to end acceptable oil consumption while keeping today’s level of performance and long-term durability. And that’s where the B&B comes in. Off to you!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Piston Slap: Why So Uncool Minivan? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-uncool-minivan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-uncool-minivan/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:07:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=908561   Josh writes: What is the deal with minivans? I was thinking the other day that as an outdoor person, minivan’s are perfect. They have lots of room for people and gear, AWD (in some cases), lots of roof space, and better MPG’s than an SUV. But apparently I can’t own one because they’re not […]

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1972 Ford Carousel (photo courtesy: forum.chryslerminivan.net)

Josh writes:

What is the deal with minivans? I was thinking the other day that as an outdoor person, minivan’s are perfect. They have lots of room for people and gear, AWD (in some cases), lots of roof space, and better MPG’s than an SUV. But apparently I can’t own one because they’re not cool. I could get a wagon though. Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?

Will minivans ever be cool to own?

Sajeev answers:

What’s the deal with minivans? From public perception, CUV popularity, fleet usage, etc. the “uncool minivan” is indeed a sad reality.  But there is plenty to love here on TTAC, from the Farago era to something brilliantly Baruthian.  My second favorite rental vehicle was the 3.6L Pentastar Caravan: it was quick and comfortable with chassis/suspension/steering components ready to play. No surprise, my fav rental was a white 2011 Crown Vic. But I digress…

Isn’t a minivan just a super-sized wagon?  Not really, even if they (kinda) ended the station wagon era. Uncool minivans are a radical rethink: eschewing the traditional notions of the family wagon and the creepster’s van with the adoption of a modern front-wheel drive layout (Aerostar and Astro notwithstanding) for maximum utilization of a traditional two box design, while adding the styling of a family sedan/wagon for curb appeal. Supposedly the Chrysler minivan’s early concepts were lifted from Ford’s work in the early 1970s: possible since Lee Iacocca famously left FoMoCo after butting heads with Henry II far too many times, and took some design staffers with him…though that’s the subject of some controversy.

Will minivans ever be cool to own? Keep in mind the Minivan was and remains an enlightened design: that will attract people. Just like so many Pistonheads go nuts over vintage wagons these days (especially with wheels you’d expect on a restomod ’69 Camaro), the uncool minivan will come back to win our hearts.

Until then, who gives a crap what people think? Go buy one and brush off the haters, no matter what they say!

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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GM Mid-Size Twins Best Similarly Equipped Full-Size Pickups In Fuel Economy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/gm-mid-size-twins-best-similarly-equipped-full-size-pickups-fuel-economy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/gm-mid-size-twins-best-similarly-equipped-full-size-pickups-fuel-economy/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906401 As full-size pickups do their best to eke out as much fuel economy as possible, the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are set to deliver a combined 21 mpg once they leave the lot for the road. Autoblog reports the GM twin mid-sizers will net owners 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg […]

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado + GMC Canyon

As full-size pickups do their best to eke out as much fuel economy as possible, the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are set to deliver a combined 21 mpg once they leave the lot for the road.

Autoblog reports the GM twin mid-sizers will net owners 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway in two-wheel drive models equipped with a six-speed auto mated to the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter direct-injection V6. For comparison, a Ram 1500 4×2 with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 sending power to the back through an eight-speed auto offers a rating of 17/20/25; the outgoing Ford F-150 4×2 with its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and six-speed auto delivers 16/18/22 mpg; and the Chevrolet Silverado C15 4×2 brings 18/20/24 mpg through its larger 4.3-liter V6 and six-speed auto.

Those wanting all four wheels to do the climbing up that hill will find the Colorado’s and Canyon’s ratings falling to 17/20/24 mpg, though they still best the Silverado K15 4×4 (17/20/22), Ford F-150 4×4 (15/17/21) and Ram 1500 4×4 (16/19/23).

As for trucks closer in size to the duo, Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah says the two-wheel drive models are more than able to throw down against the Nissan Frontier 4×2 (16/18/22 mpg) and Toyota Tacoma 4×2 (17/19/21 mpg).

GM adds that a 2.8-liter Duramax is in the offing for 2016, with figures ready for perusing closer to launch time.

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EU Fuel Economy, Emissions Testing Facing Major Overhaul http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/eu-fuel-economy-emissions-testing-facing-major-overhaul/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/eu-fuel-economy-emissions-testing-facing-major-overhaul/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=898602 The wildly optimistic fuel economy figures touted by auto makers in Europe could be in for a major revamp, as the EU looks to change the way these tests are conducted. Although new, slightly more stringent standards take effect next month would force auto makers to do things like conduct real road tests, rather than […]

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The wildly optimistic fuel economy figures touted by auto makers in Europe could be in for a major revamp, as the EU looks to change the way these tests are conducted.

Although new, slightly more stringent standards take effect next month would force auto makers to do things like conduct real road tests, rather than in a laboratory.

According to Reuters, new test standard is being ironed out by VDA, a lobby group for German auto makers, as a counter to a possible new standard by the EU. European OEMs are still agnonizing over tough new CO2 standards, and is eager to preempt even tougher future emissions standards, as well as new fuel economy testing that would cause a major drop in advertised fuel economy and CO2 standards. New rules would also target NOx emissions, which have been linked to lung cancer, and are emitted more frequently by diesel engined vehicles.

Despite this, OEMs acknowledge that the current testing methods are flawed. Many observers have long maintained that European fuel economy figures are overly optimistic and not reflective of real world driving conditions.

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Vox Explains: Don’t Use A/C – Roll Up Windows & Wear an Ice Vest to Save Gas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vox-explains-dont-use-ac-roll-windows-wear-ice-vest-save-gas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vox-explains-dont-use-ac-roll-windows-wear-ice-vest-save-gas/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 15:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=883921 It’s always nice when you come across an answer that addresses a question that you’ve wondered about? When I saw that Vox, a relatively new site that says it has “the smartest thinkers, the toughest questions” to “explain” our confusing world to us, was running a post on which uses less fuel, running the A/C or opening […]

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It’s always nice when you come across an answer that addresses a question that you’ve wondered about? When I saw that Vox, a relatively new site that says it has “the smartest thinkers, the toughest questions” to “explain” our confusing world to us, was running a post on which uses less fuel, running the A/C or opening the windows, I figured I could put the question to bed. While I did find out about the windows down vs air conditioning thing, I also found out that the smart thinkers over at Vox may not be as smart as they think they are.

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The article, by Joseph Stromberg, answered my question in the headline, “Why rolling down your cars’ windows is more fuel efficient than using AC”, perhaps in line with that explaining thing. Stromberg’s primary source is a study published by the Society of Automotive Engineers in 2004, “Affect of Windows Down on Vehicle Fuel Economy as compared to AC load“. My first inkling that Stromberg wasn’t completely in command of his sources was when I checked out the study’s presentation. Vox’s writer said “In 2004,the Society of Automobile Engineers tested a full-size V8 sedan and SUV on a desert track and in a wind tunnel, with outside air temperatures around 86°F.” While the SAE indeed published the study, which bears an SAE logo on the title page, on that same page there is a GM logo. Most of the research that the SAE publishes is done by members for their employers, the SAE functions as a clearinghouse to disseminate the information to other engineers. If that logo didn’t make the study’s origin at GM obvious enough, it says that wind tunnel tests were done at GM’s aerodynamic wind tunnel facility according to GM’s internal program and that the road tests were done at GM’s desert proving grounds. A quick search on the lead author, William Hill, also shows that he’s an HVAC engineer at GM.

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Okay, so maybe the guy doesn’t cover the automotive beat much and isn’t familiar with the SAE. Well, then there’s the question as to whether the Vox post accurately conveys what it says in the study. Stromberg writes, concerning the fact that running the A/C consumed more fuel than driving with the windows down (at least when the ambient temperature exceeded the A/C settings by at least 15-20 deg F), “The difference was very small for the sedan, and the gap did close even further at high speeds, but it didn’t disappear. For the SUV, the difference was much bigger, and actually increased at high speeds.” While the graphs for the two vehicle types indeed showed those differences between the sedan and SUV, the authors of the study concluded that the differences weren’t significant, not “much higher” as Vox has it: “Penalty of AC ON at higher ambient as compared to windows down is not significantly different for SUV or Sedan [5-10%]”.

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Finally, there’s Stromberg’s suggestion, and I can’t tell if he’s being serious or not, that if you really want to save fuel, you should emulate what some hypermilers do. Since it’s true that cars and SUVs are more aerodynamic with the windows closed, some hypermilers will keep the windows up at all times, even in broiling heat, and stay cool by wearing vests with pockets for ice packets. He even links to places where you can buy them. Now using ice to stay cool is not unheard of in the automotive world. I’ve seen ice cubes poured into the racing suits of NASCAR drivers and many race cars today have cooling systems for the drivers, so maybe it’s not such a silly idea. Something the author says about how that ice is made, though, makes me believe that he doesn’t quite understand how energy works.

Some of the best hypermilers wear ice vests to stay cool without windows or AC. They’re not cheap, but you can get a good ice vest for a few hundred dollars, and it’ll pay for itself over the course of a few years of saving gas.

Instead of draining your fuel efficiency, its cooling power is drawn from the freezer you already have running in your house. So if minimizing gas use is your thing, forget about this silly debate, and slip on a vest filled with little ice packs that normal people use to keep food cool at a picnic.

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Stromberg couches his suggestion in the context of concern over climate change. He seems to understand that running a refrigeration system in your car takes energy and that the bigger the cooling load, i.e. the greater the difference between the ambient temperature outside and the temperature that the car’s A/C is set to, the more fuel it takes to run the A/C compressor. However, at the same time he doesn’t seem to understand that the freezer in your home works on the same principles. While it’s not as silly as suggesting running the A/C off of a hood mounted windmill with a generator or other perpetual motion-like concepts there’s still no such thing as a free lunch and when you put those unfrozen ice packs, at room temperature, into your freezer that actually increases the load on the freezer’s compressor system. It’s pretty basic science. When I asked a scientist friend who does thermodynamic problems for fun if putting a jug of water in a freezer increases the electrical consumption of the compressor, he said, “Of course, that heat has to go somewhere, why would you ask?”, as though it was too simple to ask about. You might be saving fuel in your car, but you’re using more electricity at home. Overall, you might not really be saving any energy, or money (that would depend on how much you pay for fuel and electricity) at all and still end up wearing a cold soggy vest while you’re at it, with possibly no impact on climate change.

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Either way, if it’s more than about 78 or 80 degrees outside and I’m driving, I’m going to have the A/C on, often with the temperature at its lowest setting, the fan at its highest setting, recirculating the air (or, as some car companies labeled the switch back in the early 1970s, Desert Air), just as the good Lord intended Schreiber men to do so, unless I’m running low on fuel.

Charts courtesy of the SAE.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Capsule Review: 2014 Lexus CT200h http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-lexus-ct200h/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2014-lexus-ct200h/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 12:51:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=884489 To ignore the fact that auto reviewers head into a review with preconceived notions is to forget that we’re humans, not robots. A car review isn’t a specifications chart, it’s language, however artfully (or not artfully, in this case) penned. I don’t decide in advance to dislike a car. Indeed, as often as not, the […]

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2014 Lexus CT200To ignore the fact that auto reviewers head into a review with preconceived notions is to forget that we’re humans, not robots. A car review isn’t a specifications chart, it’s language, however artfully (or not artfully, in this case) penned.

I don’t decide in advance to dislike a car. Indeed, as often as not, the cars I feel certain I will like instead leave me feeling somewhat underwhelmed. But if the information which I possess aforetime causes me to start the week with the assumption that I might not favour a car, I don’t robotically cast that notion aside. I am not capable of doing so, just as I am not capable of saying, “I will be completely open-minded about this meal of battered catfish served on a bed of refried beans with a side of grits and an extra-large helping of black pudding.”

The restyled 2014 Lexus CT200h didn’t completely change my mind. I assumed it would be terribly slow, and it was. I assumed it wouldn’t be completely worthy of a premium badge, and it wasn’t. I figured its cargo area would be too small, and I was correct.

Yet in a large number of ways, the CT200h was decidedly better than expected, so much so that I could, if I squinted, see the car’s appeal, something I wouldn’t have said the day the car arrived. So maybe I’m more open-minded than I thought, even if I won’t eat catfish or black pudding.

The CT’s front seats are among the best I’ve sat in, good enough for me to see the overall appeal of the small Lexus, even without an up-down function for the power lumbar support.

The CT’s infotainment unit is easy to use, with quick access buttons for audio, home, and back surrounding a centre console-mounted circular control knob. There’s no slow-to-respond touch screen here, and long before week’s end I stopped looking away from the road to operate vital functions.
2014 Lexus CT200Outside, the CT provides onlookers with lots to see. It’s not conventionally pretty, nor is this specific car (a $39,745 Premium Package CT200h in Canadian parlance, similar to a $37,704 CT200h in the U.S.) as aggressive as the F Sport models. You may not think it’s a cohesive effort, as the new spindle grille is not as effectively integrated as it is on the IS. But from the tailgate’s bizarre shelf to the conspicuous hybrid badging to the wrap-around rear glass and the shapely hood, there’s something to look at. The CT is not boring, which from a company that formerly used car styling as anesthesia, is a good thing.

For the moment, the CT200h is also unique among premium brands in that it’s an entry-level hatchback. No, there’s not a lot of space behind the rear seats – we’ll get to that later – but it’s a flexible layout, and space for four or five occupants is better than decent.

Perhaps the greatest surprise to me was the CT200h’s handling. Yes, the car rides rather stiffly, so we expect a compensating degree of handling prowess. The electric assist steering, which doesn’t feel as artificial as so many modern systems, and the comfort with which the CT adopts and maintains a position when hustling down my favourite local roads, combine to make for a car that’s at ease with fast driving. (Once you eventually get up to speed.) The Lexus lacks the enthusiasm of Mercedes-Benz’s CLA whether the CT’s prominently-mounted knob is turned to Eco, left in Normal, or moved to Sport, which definitely upgrades the car’s personality and takes away some of the most drastic slow sensations.
2014 Lexus CT200Then again, isn’t there always (often? sometimes? every now and then?) something a little bit charming about a slow car being driven quickly? And me oh my, is it ever slow. Instrumented tests say 60 mph arrives in under ten seconds, but I’m not sure what kinds of seconds those are. The CVT just eats up so many of the 134 Prius-donated horsepower. Because you must work the CT hard when trying to keep a gently-driven Pontiac G3 in sight, half the slowness-related problem originates with the accompanying racket of a hybrid powerplant whose revs periodically head in a different direction than you expected. Perhaps with a conventional V6 the CT would be quiet like a Lexus is supposed to be. With this mode of propulsion, with some disappointing tire hum and a speck too much wind noise, it’s not.

The lack of refinement, the lack of adequate motivation, and the overarching feeling that traffic is going that way and I’m not joining them, is enough to leave me feeling like the CT shouldn’t be called a Lexus. It’s a bit like the family reunion of mostly successful siblings, most of whom run half marathons and attend PTA meetings and eat goat cheese and grow high bush blueberries along their white picket fences, where that one younger brother who’s kind of chubby showed up wearing a WWE t-shirt, actually sprayed his hamburger with Cheez Whiz, and started singing, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” after the grandchildren sang, “The Wheels On The Bus,” at the evening campfire. Maybe it’s not exactly like that. But it’s a little like that. There’s an awful lot of obviously shared DNA: the hybrid addiction and the spindle grille and the love of cheese and the affinity for music. But there are notable differences.
TTAC_2014_Lexus-CT200h-interior-2Our press car had fewer than 4500 miles on the odometer, but the driver’s seat side bolster that gets chafed with every entry was quickly wearing away. The brakes have that prototypical hybrid regen grab, but then lack further bite. Why do I have to move a shift lever up and over and down and back but then use a separate pushbutton to put the car in Park? I’m pretty sure I just used a foot-operated parking brake. And with 14.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the rear seats, the CT is way down from the Mazda 3 hatchback’s 20.2 cubic feet and even farther away from the new Volkswagen Golf’s 22.8 cubic feet. These are huge gaps in load-lugging ability, gaps we weren’t very willing to disregard when the CT was maxed out by one large load of groceries.

And then, like the guy who drives ten miles to save a penny per gallon on fuel, I temporarily lost all perspective when I filled up the CT200h before the car went back to Toyota Canada. It had burned less fuel (46 mpg) than even its EPA ratings (40 highway, 43 city) forecasted. This was pre-confirmed by the car’s own onboard computer, which I had assumed couldn’t possibly be accurate given the EPA ratings and the manner in which I drove the car.

I couldn’t overlook the CT200h’s lack of urge, its handful of non-premium missteps, or its ineffective cargo hold. I’d be happier in a fully-equipped Mazda 3 or a diesel-powered Golf, and I suspect most Lexus CT buyers would prefer to drive an Audi A3.
2014 Lexus CT200hMaybe I’m missing the point; maybe I don’t grasp the importance of the CT’s uniqueness. The buyer who wants a mid-$30s upmarket car but can’t stand spending money on fuel – who presumably figures her Lexus will feel like a Lexus, and who used to own a Prius – likely doesn’t find those other cars all that appealing. Personally, I can see the CT’s appeal, I just can’t link it to my own tastes. Or the tastes of the vast majority of the auto-buying public: this car has not proven very popular.

Even though it does boast an unexpectedly tiny fuel bill, a Lexus badge, a long standard equipment list, a sense of style, and surprisingly decent handling.

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Question Of The Day: Is SFE The Key To MPG? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/question-day-sfe-key-mpg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/question-day-sfe-key-mpg/#comments Tue, 05 Aug 2014 19:28:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=882618 When we published the 2015 Ford F-150 order guide, we focused on the trim level changes (the FX4 and STX trims are gone, while the police-oriented SSV package is back) while forgetting three very important letters. SFE. On other Ford models, the SFE package is used to denote a high fuel economy trim – think […]

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When we published the 2015 Ford F-150 order guide, we focused on the trim level changes (the FX4 and STX trims are gone, while the police-oriented SSV package is back) while forgetting three very important letters. SFE.

On other Ford models, the SFE package is used to denote a high fuel economy trim – think the 1.0L Fiesta Ecoboost. As The Motley Fool’s John Rosevar found out, the volume XL and XLT trims of the F-150 will have an SFE package with smaller 17″ wheels, a special tonneau cover and the new 2.7L Ecoboost engine. The SFE trim will only be available in regular or SuperCab configurations, not the popular crewcab style.

Depending on how you look at it, Ford has two targets to hit. The Ram 1500 HFE, which is a V6 model with active grille shutters, start-stop and other technologies that provide incremental gains in fuel economy, can hit 25 mpg on the highway. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which uses a diesel V6 engine, can get as much as 28 mpg.

If I were to place a bet, I’d say that Ford will go for broke and try to at least match the EcoDiesel. That would give their much-touted aluminum truck the em-pee-gee bragging rights in the entire segment. And from there, it’s only a matter of time before the 30 MPG truck arrives.

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Crapwagon Outtake: Audi’s Aluminum A-Segment Wonder http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/crapwagon-outtake-audis-aluminum-segment-wonder/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/crapwagon-outtake-audis-aluminum-segment-wonder/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 17:07:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881586   Banovsky’s Car of the Day sets the clock back 15 years to look at a vehicle that was tragically ahead of its time. So much so, that it makes the Prius look unimpressive. The Audi A2 was an all-aluminum microvan capable of hitting 78 mpg in its most fuel-efficient trim level. As Banovsky writes, […]

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Banovsky’s Car of the Day sets the clock back 15 years to look at a vehicle that was tragically ahead of its time. So much so, that it makes the Prius look unimpressive.

The Audi A2 was an all-aluminum microvan capable of hitting 78 mpg in its most fuel-efficient trim level. As Banovsky writes,

The impetus was simple: get four people from Stuttgart, Germany (the most direct route passes through the middle of Switzerland on the way!), and on to Milan, Italy using only a single tank of fuel. Distance? 500 km (310 miles.) 

Of course, after you’re done designing a 4-seat, 5-door MPV with a length two inches less than a modern Toyota Yaris 5-door, there’s not much room for a massive fuel tank for long journeys. At just 34 litres (8.9 U.S. gallons), that means the A2 would have to consume just 6.8 L/100 km or (34 US MPG). Don’t forget, though: the route from Stuttgart to Milan would take you over the alps and you’d have four people onboard, some bags, and a few sticks of gum. 

The target Audi hit? Just 3 L/100 km (78 US MPG.) If you’re keeping score at home you’ll know that’s an improvement of 17 mpg over a Toyota Prius. 

Of course, the 78 mpg figure was for the A2 TDI 3L, which used a special, ultra-efficient diesel engine and other tricks like redesigned body panels to hit that figure. The A2 was also made entirely of aluminum, which makes the bespoke body panels all the more amazing. And expensive.

The A2 cost an absolute fortune to produce, and fuel prices weren’t high enough to entice people into buying one. Production lasted just a few brief years before Audi cancelled the program. One can only imagine that with the current adoption of aluminum, the greater acceptance for small, fuel-efficient vehicles and the increased cachet of the Audi brand, the A2 would have a much brighter future today – and be capable of even greater fuel economy gains. Then again, with the improvements we’ve seen in the last 15 years, would aluminum construction and other expensive technologies even be necessary?

 

 

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Piston Slap: A Rather Thirsty Escort? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-a-rather-thirsty-escort/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-a-rather-thirsty-escort/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:01:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873833 TTAC Commentator Weltron writes: Hi Sajeev! The car I am writing about today is my winter beater, which is a 1999 Ford Escort SE sedan which says it has a tick over 155,000 miles. (Pictured above) The problem I’m having with it is it it getting dreadful gas mileage. My average tank is about 19 […]

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TTAC Commentator Weltron writes:

Hi Sajeev!

The car I am writing about today is my winter beater, which is a 1999 Ford Escort SE sedan which says it has a tick over 155,000 miles. (Pictured above) The problem I’m having with it is it it getting dreadful gas mileage. My average tank is about 19 miles to the gallon (in comparison that is what my twin turbo straight six Volvo gets around town). Over the winter I replaced both of the o2 sensors and got a marginal improvement (about .4 mpg).

And here’s the kicker: the dumb thing runs perfectly. No error codes or anything. Idles smooth and everything (well as far as Escort refinement goes). When I go on the highway (which is fairly often) I can see upward of 21… If I’m lucky.

Help please! I’m debating on whether to sell it or not due to this gas mileage problem for something bigger (thinking an Oldsmobile Eighty Eight/LSS or if I’m feeling lucky … an Aurora if I do end up replacing the Escort.) Thank you in advance for your help.

P.S. Here’s a list of what has been replaced/cleaned since the fall.

Mass air flow sensor cleaned
New air filter
New spark plugs/ plug wires
New o2 sensors (both upstream and downstream)
New muffler
New tires

Sajeev answers:

It’s funny how well-maintained vehicles occasionally have an obvious problem that’s impossible to diagnose.  But going to the beautiful, enjoyable yet expensive and complicated Northstar powered Oldsmobile is the wrong move!

You’ve done the basics, kudos to you.  That makes our job easier. Considering your Volvo drives in the same manner (presumably) there’s certainly a minor problem outside of driver error. And I wouldn’t be so adamant if it didn’t happen to me:

Try changing the fuel filter first, then get new/reconditioned fuel injectors.

That’s it.  I know you’ve slooooowly been losing power and efficiency.  Perhaps you notice a mysterious fuel smell?  The injectors are no longer turning on/shutting off correctly. And when you get ’em installed, ZOMG SON, note the instant acceleration improvement and the later MPG lift.

So go ahead and keep it, even if the cylinder head might be a problem in the future.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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