By on December 10, 2014

Albert Hollywood 3Albert made it to Hollywood

You can see all the USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

This is it! After 5.722 miles or 9.209 km Albert and I have made it across the United States of America from Coast to Coast and have arrived in Los Angeles. This is the final instalment in this Coast to Coast series. It features Los Angeles car landscape and impressions, a final long-term review of Albert and my Top 10 highlights of the trip.

Los AngelesNearly there…

The drive from Palm Springs to Los Angeles is supposed to be a breezy 2 hours, which rapidly escalated to 4 hours due to a gigantic highway traffic jam before and upon entering I10. I know some of you suggested to take the Palms to Pines Hwy (74) straight to the Pacific Ocean for a much more enjoyable experience however we opted for the (supposedly) fastest way as we were running out of time and daylight for Santa Monica Pier snaps before returning Albert the day after. Well to tell you the truth I still wish we took the Palms to Pines option because we ended up taking as much time to reach Santa Monica Pier on the excruciatingly boring I10. Oh well, next time…

Albert Santa MonicaAlbert posing next to Santa Monica Pier

Move over Texas, California is where drivers are truly reckless, whooshing past on the right lane at over 100mph. To their credit though, Californian drivers ended up being very predictable in their recklessness, and provided you expect everyone will drive 20mph above every indicated speed limit, it is actually possible to weave through the traffic at high speed driving a full-size pickup truck, an object getting rarer and rare as we approach Los Angeles.

Santa Monica 1The Pacific Ocean at last

I won’t deny it, I got a little emotional when I spotted the Pacific Ocean for the first time approaching Santa Monica Pier. You don’t realize it, but the USA is a very large country and even though I took a much longer route than I could have (but also I believe much more interesting). Can’t help but think of the first Western pioneers travelling on horsecarts in constant danger of being attacked by hostile Native American tribes. Well done you guys. Or maybe I have it all romanced in my head, having watched too many Western movies.

Los Angeles 2Everyday traffic in Los Angeles CA

Back to reality in LA which is, I’d rather be honest for a minute, just one big fat and endless traffic jam. Take a wrong turn to a different interstate and by the time you turn around and find your way back in stalled traffic, even if you take the first exit humanely possible, you’ve just lost 45 minutes right there. For those of you readers who live in LA: I simply do not know how you do it.

Honda Insight Los AngelesHonda Insight in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles CA

Squeezing Albert through the tiny (one way?) uphill streets of Hollywood Hills in order to find the perfect spot for his selfie enabled me to discover how Hollywood stars, producers, filmmakers and reality TV personalities (can’t use the word star here) spend their money, but also how faithful they are to their first hybrid love. Proof: this first generation Honda Insight papp’ed above. As a reminder the Insight was the first hybrid car to go on sale in the US in December 1999 – 6 months before the Prius.

Toyota Corolla Los AngelesToyota Corolla in Hollywood Observatory, Los Angeles CA

Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles – and in particular the Hollywood area – is the kingdom of Toyota Prius. They are absolutely everywhere and seeing 3 of 4 in a row in traffic is a common occurrence. After all, it’s Hollywood actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Sandra Bullock, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom or Julia Roberts that essentially did all the advertising for this car, so nothing more logical than seeing it plastered at every street corner in Hollywood. The Prius family (also including the Prius c small hatchback and Prius v MPV) is logically the best-selling nameplate in California. True to form, the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are also very common in Los Angeles as their respective California state rankings (#2 and #5) indicate. The full Californian Top 10 best-sellers were published here.

But let’s beat around the bush no more – I know a lot of you have been eagerly anticipating Albert’s final review.

So here goes…

Albert Hollywood 1

Albert great

The truck we all know as Albert by now is a Ram 1500 ecoDiesel Tradesman Crew Cab 4×4 Model Year 2014. This is the lowest trim level in the Ram Pickup range. All-in-all and I will say this in all honesty, I have been extremely impressed with Albert. This was the first time I got to drive a full-size US pickup truck over a long distance and I was expecting a laborious drive at best. Turns out, the Ram 1500 combines features from a spacious passenger car, some of the convenience of an MPV, the off-road abilities of a crossover and the practicality of a pickup truck. The best of all worlds? Quite possibly so… Here is what I particularly liked about Albert.

30 mpg

FUEL ECONOMY

  • Reaching a 30 mpg average over thousands of miles – even for a short time after a particularly long highway drive – was in my view the most impressive feat Albert achieved during this Coast to Coast trip. The EcoDiesel 3.0L V6 engine is just perfect for this type of vehicle and trip, in fact it makes you wonder why other manufacturers haven’t launched diesel variants for their base full-size pickups yet.
  • Albert’s fuel economy gauge (below the average) updates in real time, and this is a great way to influence it once you digest what triggers it to go up and down as you drive (Essentially driving as smoothly as possible on the highway). Not rocket science but seeing the instant fuel economy vary second by second is a great way to keep you honest – in a less guilty way than the Prius does.
  • Albert’s final fuel economy over the entire trip stood at an excellent 26.2 mpg over almost 6.000 miles. Had I not spent hours stuck in traffic in both LA and New York it would have been even higher, but I guess that brings the ‘city’ mileage into the combined equation and keeps the average realistic. 26.2 mpg combined is outstanding for this type of vehicle and confirms the Ram really is the most fuel efficient full-size pickup around. These figures are actually markedly better than the official EPA fuel economy figures advertised for this specific 1500 EcoDiesel 4×4 model: 27 mpg highway, 22 mpg combined and 19 mpg city. It is also way better than the equivalent all-new 2015 Ford F-150 4WD models: the ecoboost 2.7L gets 23/18/20 mpg highway/city/combined and the 3.5L gets 23/17/19 mpg.

8. Albert New Mexico

HIGHWAY PERFORMANCE

  • This is one of the areas where I had the least expectations for Albert, in fact I was a little sceptical of how comfortable and/or enjoyable a full-size pickup ride would be on thousands of miles of highway, day in, day out. When I set out on this Coast to Coast trip a few of my automotive press colleagues raised eyebrows asking why oh why did I not opt for a sexier ride like a Ford Mustang. My motivation was simple: I wanted to cross the country in a quintessential American vehicle, and the Mustang ticks that box – granted, but one that defines America’s tastes in vehicles like no other. No other country in the world worships full-size pickups like the US and Canada do. In one word, what makes American consumers different to the rest of the world is those pickups. The Ram 1500 being the fastest-growing pickup in US sales in 2014, it was the perfect choice. I was prepared to sacrifice driving pleasure to experience what the majority of Americans do when they roll their full-size pickup truck around. And the truth is I didn’t have to sacrifice much, or anything for that matter.
  • The 3.0L EcoDiesel V6, on top of being very frugal, has also been set up to not let you down when you need it most. The best example of this happened on Californian highways before hitting standstill in downtown Los Angeles. After being stuck in a gigantic traffic jam on the highway, I had to reach LA before the last sunset of the trip to ensure optimal photo exposure. So for two hours I needed to weave through fast-moving yet heavy traffic as fast as physically possible, flirting with speed limits and changing lanes every 10 seconds or less to be sure to advance to the next inch of free highway space as effectively as possible. A good way to test Albert’s psycho driving skills.
  • Californian drivers, in their regimented recklessness, allow this to happen by keeping traffic fluid but most importantly I am happy to report that no other vehicle was able to link Palm Springs to Los Angeles faster than Albert on that stretch of road while keeping within the limits of the law. The engine and its 8-speed automatic transmission responds without delay when called upon to overtake suddenly, giving you torque when and where you need it. Very reassuring and to my view very satisfying for a vehicle of this weight.
  • Pushing Albert above 100mph in New Mexico did not transform the cabin into a whirring, shaking hell in the least. In fact Albert swallowed the increasing speed levels very stoically indeed. Engine noise is (somewhat disappointingly – I miss the gargling diesel sound) kept to a very low level at all speeds: driving at 60 or 110mph brings almost no difference. Certainly not what I expected from a diesel pickup. Pleasantly surprised.
  • When not in need of nervous driving, the Ram 1500 can easily slot itself into a very precise cruise control you can adjust to the mile and that returns to the pre-set figure once you have accelerated to pass a slower vehicle. A standard ‘set and forget’ system common on most vehicles today but a welcome addition to a set of features that made driving Albert on the highway for 6.000 miles a total breeze. Among them also: an ergonomic driver seat that left me with no back pain even after many stretches of 8-hour drive days in a row. You don’t know my back, but it’s still thanking Albert as we speak.

Albert Charleston

CITY DRIVING

  • Taking the wheel in Uptown Manhattan NY on the first day Albert was delivered to me was daunting. The width of the truck and the tiny, double-parked-to-the-brim one way streets did not seem to agree with each other in the least at the start. For the first couple of minutes only though. Very responsive commands and efficient power steering make Albert extremely manoeuvrable and very predictable in its movements.
  • So much so that once used to the enormous size of the vehicle, reverse parking becomes an effortless manoeuvre you could almost achieve with one thumb on the steering wheel (almost). Although I do consider myself a reverse parking ace thanks to very smart French driving school instructors in my youth, I have to admit I didn’t expect Albert to be more nimble than my mom’s good old tiny Peugeot 206. And it was.
  • Driving Albert in America (even in cities) gives it what you could call an unfair advantage as U.S. roads and streets are for the most part built to accommodate this type of pickup truck’s turning circle, however it does work. U can U turn in one go on a majority of roads.
  • Finally as a confirmation of the very low cabin noise review on the highway, you have to prick up your ears to hear the engine when stopped at a traffic light. Stepping out to snap pictures on a busy Manhattan street, it is impossible to guess whether the engine is running or not.

3. Albert Death Valley 1

SUSPENSION AND HARSH CONDITIONS DRIVING

  • A bout of late-night driving in a particularly weakly-lit suburban Dallas street resulted in Albert having a forced speed date with a sizeable middle-street sidewalk: after the initial surprise, the truck’s suspension absorbed the change of terrain admirably and forgave my mistake to the point where the passengers hardly noticed.
  • Admittedly I didn’t push Albert into truly harsh 4WD driving as Monument Valley’s unsealed and sometimes abrupt drive was as close as it came to being unleashed in the wild. Still, it did the job as a willing workhorse would: flawlessly.
  • Albert hardly noticed we ventured into Death Valley. It seemed he was made for this type of harsh climate, and the climb to Coffin Peak was not even sanctioned by heavy engine cooling panting at the end. Nup, silent. Content. Impressive.
  • Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to test Albert’s towing capabilities during this trip, however the next US trip will definitely correct this.

Ram 1500 ecoDiesel Albert gearbox

SPACIOUS, NO NONSENSE INTERIOR

  • At $35.805 base price and $40.495 for the model I have driven, Albert is a lot of truck for the money. Two tall adults could easily fit in the truck bed and sleep there for the night. But where I was clearly surprised to find that much space was inside. Albert is a Crew Cab meaning the equivalent of a large passenger car inside, with a truck bed stuck on the back of it. I wasn’t the only one impressed by interior space: showing Albert’s back row to a few moms along the trip raised more than a few eyebrows. Plenty of leg space both at the front and back added to Albert’s extensive width and a middle front seat folding back means you can fit 6 people quite comfortably in this base Ram.
  • Call me stupid but somehow I am used to having a trunk in which to hide my luggage when I drive. Seeing the open truck bed when I took Albert’s keys I had a half-second of horror thinking my photographer would throw a sizeable tantrum at having to leave his $5.000 photo equipment bags for all to see on the back seats at each of our stops. Not to worry: the back windows are heavily tinted so you can store your luggage there without anyone knowing.
  • The dashboard and commands are simple but sufficient and intuitive for the most part. They may not be complete as as we’ll see further down but this is a functional truck to operate smoothly for sure. You can see a more detailed review of Albert’s commands here.
  • There were some clever bonuses that just put a smile on my face every time I used them. Having started to drive at a time where discmans were all the rage (the CD version of a walkman – if you were born after 1990 just ignore this), I just sigh with contentment every time I step into a car with a USB port. Simple pleasures I know. The gearshift rotary dial on the central console (pictured above) replacing the traditional shift lever on the steering column both freed leg space and made me very happy, as well as the coin holder located inside the central container and keeping Albert in touch with its Tradesman label, roots and target market. Finally the cup holders are both tight and flexible enough to unscrew any bottle with one hand while driving. Very handy indeed.

Albert back Death Valley

Albert improve

Some of these improvement points come from the fact that Albert is the very base Tradesman model and therefore has been optioned-out to the max. Still, I would have expected the below features to be included.

HEADLIGHTS

The Ram 1500 Tradesman Crew Cab 4×4 Spec sheet says one of the exterior features is Halogen Quad Headlamps. They are simply not strong enough and I found myself scrambling to action high beams while already being on high beams. Change the headlights if you buy one of Albert’s brothers.

COMMANDS

Although globally intuitive, there are a few missing elements in Albert’s commands. There are no volume and track rockers on the back of the wheel, which means you have to fiddle with the central console every time you want to change anything. It keeps your eyes away from the road for too long and could be fixed by actually adding a right control bar on the back of the wheel: at the moment there is only a left one. The GPS is also MIA, which is kind of a big deal when crossing the country. Luckily the Google Maps app of my iPhone was totally up to the task and the USB port kept it fully charged at all times.

HEAVY RAIN DRIVING

A caveat here is I drove Albert on arrival in Savannah GA in the worst stormy rain I ever got to drive in in my entire life (true story). Cars were literally stopped in the middle of the highway for lack of visibility, or driving off their lane without realising it. Heavy rain driving is my pet hate, and Albert’s wipers, even maxed out, were not fast enough to handle this type of weather which, based on the comments I got from the locals, seems to be rather frequent in that part of the country. High speed driving under heavy rain did not seem like a great idea either as the weight of the truck can mess with clean braking and the tail tends to wobble a little.

TRADESMAN LOOK

By this I mean Albert’s black front grille and bumper. I will confess I have spent the most part of the trip hesitating between liking this look and not liking it so much. And I still haven’t decided. It does make Albert appear rough around the edges and ready to rumble in a good way. Although I do love the chrome of his higher spec’ed brothers…

Albert Hollywood 2

10 highlights

I’ll finish this series by very subjectively selecting my 10 highlights of the trip, they are all linked to the corresponding reports, just in case you missed any of them. I hope you enjoyed the journey!

1. Elvis Presley museum in Memphis

2. Bourbon Street and jambalaya in New Orleans

3. Blue bird café in Nashville

4. Modern living in Palm Springs

5. Driving Albert through Manhattan

6. Majestic Monument Valley

7. Motel-ing it all through the trip

8. Art deco roadside stops along Route 66

9. Surviving Death Valley

10. Real America in Fort Worth – Texas

Stay tuned for more world travels!

The Photo Report continues below.

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a car sales statistics website and consultancy: BestSellingCars which just celebrated its 4th anniversary.

Los Angeles street sceneColourful Los Angeles street scene

VW Beetle Los AngelesVW Beetle in Los Angeles CA

Nissan Sentra Los AngelesNissan Sentra in Los Angeles CA

Toyota Prius Los Angeles2 x Toyota Prius in Los Angeles CA

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65 Comments on “Coast to Coast 2014: Final destination Los Angeles and Final Albert Review...”


  • avatar

    Thanks for the road trip reports.

    Glad to see Tennessee made 3 of the top 10 highlights of the trip!!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Great story and great review, Thanks!

  • avatar

    Great write up on Albert, I’m glad you made the vehicle choice you did and that the Ram comported it self well, and I hope earned your affection.
    Now if we could please get Sergio & Co. to start selling them in Australasia.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Very appropriate choice of vehicle and route. I’ve enjoyed these posts.

    Next time, you should see the parts of America you missed by taking such a southerly route, and drive a vehicle in the other category with which Americans are improbably in love — the midsize crossover.

    I’d recommend going from Boston to Seattle via western NY, Cleveland, Chicago, and the northern Plains and Rockies. Make sure to stop by Yellowstone and then drive through northwestern Montana, which is spectacular. Take a Honda CR-V or Ford Escape and see how it does for a road trip.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      A Ford Escape would be a good choice.

      Back when I had a 2002 Escape (a jacked up Mazda 626 wagon, butched up to look like an F-150 inside), I called it a Ford Subaru. It solves the same problem, and it solves them well — but with a different set of pretentions.

      I’d love to hear how the 3rd generation Escape (a thinly veiled Ford Kuga) handles that trip, and how it compares to the Kuga in the Kuga’s home market.

      Escapes are popular, and rightly so, singe they solve the problem of all-weather family transportation quite nicely. They’re also as American as anything gets in the global car business, and exploring the mindf*ck which does (or does not) come with that for Escape owners who don’t read this blog would be interesting. I’d be interested in Matt Gasnier’s globe-trodding marketing-savvy perspective on this, one day.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    re: “… Californian drivers ended up being very predictable in their recklessness”

    Is ‘predictable recklessness’ an oxymoron?

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    Ever since I drove a Ram 1500 EcoDiesel in the spring, I have been scheming of a way to justify one for work. I, too, prefer more diesel “gargle” and would rather have a third pedal over the automatic. I’m willing to give up my personal wants for a truly impressive truck. The Ram 1500 was simply the nicest pickup I had ever drove or ridden in. I was blown away. It is easy to see how Ram has been making strong inroads into the mature, full-sized truck market.

    Unfortunately, the payload of the Ram 1500 just doesn’t cut it for our needs. I will probably have to opt for a Ford Transit 2500 cab & chassis.

  • avatar
    imprezive

    “There are no volume and track rockers on the back of the wheel, which means you have to fiddle with the central console every time you want to change anything.”

    Are you sure about that? I’ve driven a 2014 Ram 1500 SLT and it had steering wheel controls for volume and track.

  • avatar
    319583076

    I enjoyed this series, thanks!

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Now explain to me why I should spend $10,000 more up front and $1.25 more a gallon for this over a comparable truck with a gas engine?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Where are you paying $1.25 more? Most places the difference is around 60 cents.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        According to the government (http://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/) the national average difference right now is between 80 and 90 cents.

        The author drove 5722 miles @ 26.2 mpg = 218.4 gallons of diesel. At the current average price, that’s $722.

        If the author drove a gas pickup and got ~22 mpg, it would be 260 gallons of gasoline. At the current average price, that’s $697.

        That’s why nobody else is selling diesel light-duty pickups in the US. The longer you own them, the worse off you get, since gas pickups have plenty good resale value.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          This is exactly why I don’t understand the constant cry for diesels, not to mention the high entry fee

          • 0 avatar

            The price of Diesel is not a incentive for sure. However let’s examine what might happen to the US oil demand if we did convert to diesel.

            218 gallons vs 260 Gallons represents a 16% reduction in the number gallons needed. What do you think would happen to the price of both gasoline and diesel if the US demand for oil went down 16%? Hint: It would be a lot more than a 16% drop in price.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            I also can’t understand why people MORE for a moonroof.

            Diesels in anything light duty sounds like a downgrade to me.

        • 0 avatar
          Speedygreg7

          I believe you are selling the advantages of the diesel a bit short.

          If you were to get this exact truck with the Pentastar V6, you would likely achieve 22-23 mpg for this same trip with the ecomnomy rear end. However, your towing capacity would be limited to 4400lbs when not on a road trip.

          If you were to get the Hemi V8, you would likely get 20 mpg with economy gearing but could tow 8700lbs.

          This truck was able to get 26 mpg overall and still has the capacity to tow 7750lbs in this configuration.

          Seems to me like you can have your cake and eat it too with the EcoDiesel.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            And in reality most trucks don’t actually tow anything and the 7750 lb rating is pretty sketchy at best. In this configuration the vehicle has a 900lb load capacity so you’ve got to have a 125lb driver an no passengers to take advantage of that tow rating, assuming you use the minimum 10% tongue wt rule.

            Motor Trend recently did a test comparing the most fuel efficient versions of the big three 1//2 tons. They hooked a 700lb trailer up to each and the 2.7 Ecoboost F150 accelerated much quicker than the EcoDiesel Ram, despite the fact that the F150 had a 500lb tow rating. So yeah it is rating for a higher tow capacity but you need to be willing to do it in the slooow lane.

            Note they justified hooking the 700lb trailer up to the F150 since their research indicated that something like a third of truck owners don’t know how much the trailer they are towing weighs and whether or not it is exceeding their particular trucks tow rating. The also threw 100lbs in the bed and a driver in the Ram for the loaded tests based on the same research that indicated that many owners did not pay attention to the rated capacity of their truck and didn’t really know the weights of they things they threw in the back.

            Their MPG testing showed that in the unloaded and loaded portions the Ram got 21% better MPG but that the fuel cost 19% more. So by the time you add the DEF and other added maintenance costs of the diesel like fuel and air filters that are way more expensive and need replacement way more often there is no cost savings to be derived from the EcoDiesel. Now while towing the Ecodiesel did get 35% better MPG but keep in mind that the Ford would actually make it up the hill at speed despite the fact that it was running significantly over its rated capacity.

            Personally I’d love to see the same test Pentastar vs EcoDiesel.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        Still….

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        Ohio, gasoline is $2.50 diesel is still at $3.75

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      This review does not ask you to buy one. It helps people who want to buy one and they are not asking those questions. Most likely a potential buyer is looking at performance and MPG, over outright cost, that is.
      If those questions are your priority then RAM has all kinds of other options for you.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I think it’s a legitimate question, why would someone want to spend a premium at purchase and then a continued premium at the pump to have a diesel? What are the advantages over a gasoline engine? We’re not all knowledgeable of every type of engine and their pros/cons, that’s why we come here to hopefully learn something. Reviews may not be designed to sell you something, but they are a tool to help when making a buying decision

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Don’t forget the added maintenance cost of the Diesel and the potentially higher, much higher repair bills. The reality is that they only case based on economics where the EcoDiesel would make sense is if you use it for towing a moderate load a significant portion of the time but are willing to take your time getting there.

          So as a work truck that tow a 4-6,000lb trailer on a daily or at least very regular basis it could break even or maybe be more economical than a gas powered truck. That is assuming that the diesel engine retains some resale value. That of course will not be known for a number of years. Yes many diesels retain their value well, but if this turns out to be a dog of an engine the resale value could be non-existent.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        I’m always in the market for a vehicle between myself and my business and my family, I’m the guy that wants to buy this truck! But once you factor in the upfront fuel and maintenance versus your gas 4 door 4×4 that I can get from any of the three every day, I can’t make the numbers work, I don’t care about resale really, I own them depreciate them and buy more every 5 years, I can’t find a scenario where I’ll break even.

  • avatar
    billchrests

    Today in Rural North Dakota – E10 Regular Gas is $2.699 and Diesel is $3.799. $1.10 a gallon difference or over 40%

    • 0 avatar

      Yep. Its getting insane

      http://www.jsonline.com/business/diesel-prices-topping-gas-by-56-cents-a-gallon-nationally-b99186261z1-240938591.html

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Here in Seattle, gas is running about $2.69 (just like ND) but diesel is closer to $3.36, not $3.79.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Where are you seeing diesel in the Seattle area for that cheap. I had to fill the rental truck this weekend in the Kent area and paid $3.69 per gallon, and the gas was $2.73 at the same station. I used the truck to haul equipment into a couple of locations in Seattle and the prices I saw for gas in the Ballard and N. Seattle area were in the $2.85 and higher range. Didn’t notice the price of diesel at those stations if they carried it since many stations that do carry it don’t tend to put its price in 1′ high numbers like they do for gas and I was mainly worrying how to get a ~100″ wide truck safely down a sometimes 96″ wide lane. unfortunately I get to do it again Fri (in rush hour) to drop off and Sun to pickup.

        • 0 avatar
          djsyndrome

          Diesel here in Snohomish County is pushing $3.70.

          Interestingly enough a station just off I-5 in Everett was charging 2.79 for regular, but 3.59 for mid grade and a dime over that for premium (?!)

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          This is on the Eastside. I just looked at a gas site and it seems like the station near me in north Bellevue is a bit of an outlier, but it’s 3.37 tonight. It seems to be closer to 3.60 elsewhere. Not sure what explains the difference.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            One thing to keep in mind is that most stations that aren’t truck stops do not turn over their diesel inventory as quickly as they do their gas inventory. So rather than take a bath by dropping the price they base it on what the last tank cost them. That of course leads to lower sales if someone down the street is significantly lower in price which then compounds things as they can’t sell out that expensive diesel to get a tank of the cheap stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “One thing to keep in mind is that most stations that aren’t truck stops do not turn over their diesel inventory as quickly as they do their gas inventory.”

            Sage advice would be to only use Truck stops to fuel up if you drive a diesel anything.

            Well, unless you’re in Willie Nelson country. He’ll make more Bio-diesel while you wait and you’ll smell like deep-fried foods when you drive off.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Response eaten by spam filter because it had the evil word “Easts1de” but the short answer is 3.37 at a Chevron close to me in north Bellevue.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    What? No drive up PCH to Washington state, and then I-5 to Vancouver B.C. for your last hoorah!

    You missed all the Prii, Volts, Leafs, Teslas, BMWs 3-series and X3s, Audi A4s, and Subbies in Seattle.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Yes, it is a big country which many people outside the US fail to appreciate.

    A former client told me of the time his boss in the UK asked him to drive from Oklahoma City to Dallas over lunch to drop something off because it looked so close on the map.

  • avatar
    Firestorm 500

    The U.S. refinery, transportation, and fuel dispenser infrastructure would have to undergo a massive and very costly changeover if most vehicles used diesel instead of gasoline.

    I just don’t think the few MPG improvement justifies this, especially with the higher cost of the fuel itself,the initial higher cost of a diesel vehicle plus potentially prohibitive repair bills in passenger car/light duty truck personal use.

    • 0 avatar

      So what your saying is Europe can make the change gradually but we can’t? Their diesel repair costs don’t seem to anger them.

      The truck featured here didn’t get as big an MPG boost as the typical diesel. Fueleconomy.gov indicates the average mpg improvement is over 30% for equivalent diesel vehicle.

      The higher cost of the fuel is a definite deterrent. It didn’t use to be that way. Higher taxation and tight refining capacity contribute to the price bump.

      Don’t forget that a reduction in oil demand thanks to the better efficiency will depress prices of all oil derived fuels.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Sorry it doesn’t work that way. From any given type of crude there is a fixed mix of products that are derived from it through simple distillation. Yes you can adjust the mix but it is more expensive. What would happen if more people drove diesels is that gas would get cheaper and diesel would get more expensive. It would not lead to a significant reduction the the amount of crude needed nor cause the price of crude to drop significantly.

        • 0 avatar

          Sources?

          My understanding is that Gasoline represents 40% of distilled crude oil without modification to the standard process. Currently refiners are increasing diesel production so that the ratio of distillates to gasoline will be 50/50. In other words we are still bending over backwards to produce as much gasoline as we do.

          “For example, only 40% of distilled crude oil is gasoline; however, gasoline is one of the major products made by oil companies. Rather than continually distilling large quantities of crude oil, oil companies chemically process some other fractions from the distillation column to make gasoline; this processing increases the yield of gasoline from each barrel of crude oil.”

          http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/oil-refining4.htm

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Diesel is a heavier fuel — it takes up less space.

            You can’t directly compare diesel MPG with gasoline MPG. A liquid unit of diesel contains more carbon, which means that it has more energy.

            Change the refinery mix to produce one more gallon of diesel, and you will lose more than one gallon of gasoline. There is no free energy lunch, it just gets allocated differently.

            Diesels are slightly more efficient because they run at higher compression. But much of the MPG benefit is a matter of the fuel being heavier. As noted, comparing MPG across fuels doesn’t make any sense — MPG does not measure thermal efficiency and there would be no difference if we bought our fuel by the pound.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            You link explains it for you. That additional processing requires more energy, equipment, and labor. So the gallon of gas produced from those other products is more expensive to produce than the natural gasoline produced purely by distillation. So reduce the amount of gasoline derived from a given crude oil and you reduce the average price per gallon. The same is true for diesel, increase the percentage of the crude refined into diesel and the average price per gallon increases. Because there are more Hydrocarbons per gallon of diesel it consumes more raw product to create.

          • 0 avatar

            PCH. You downplay the increased efficiency of the Diesel engine.

            Gas engines are 25-30% thermally efficient.
            Diesels are 50% thermally efficient.

            That’s not slightly more efficient, its significantly more efficient.

            It will take less crude to make a diesel car go the same distance as a gasoline car.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engine_efficiency

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Diesel powered vehicles are more efficient for 3 main reasons. #1 diesel has about 11% more energy per gallon than gasoline (which means it takes more crude to make a gallon of diesel than a gallon of gas). #2 High compression ratio. The higher the compression ratio the greater the energy than can be turned into work. #3 lack of a throttle. The throttle on a gas engine makes it create a vacuum, creating that vacuum requires energy which means that less is available to do work.

            Thanks to new technology gas engine compression ratios have been increasing lowering the diesel engine’s advantage. Thanks to the EPA diesel engines no longer get a pass on pollution and on some engines that means a the now have a throttle to make the EGR system work properly. That EGR system also means lowered thermal efficiency. The new emissions standards also mean that diesel vehicles need the DPF and that means burning fuel in the exhaust to regenerate (clean) the DPF. So the gap in efficiency is closing and will soon be mainly due to the higher energy content, ie the use of more crude to create a gallon of it than is used to create a gallon of gas.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If diesels were twice as efficient as gas engines, then they would get more than twice the MPG. They obviously don’t.

            (No, diesels are not 50% thermal efficient.)

          • 0 avatar

            Since you’re the expert PCH, go change Wikipedia to read the correct efficiency for a Diesel engine.

            I’m sure your sources are better than mine. Wait you haven’t quoted any sources, just your opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ JP, while PCH and I disagree on many things I fully agree with him. IF a diesel engine was indeed 50% efficient and a gas engine is 25% efficient then when you factor in the higher energy content of diesel then all other things equal the diesel would get 2.2 times the mpg of the same vehicle with a gas engine. If the gas engine was 30% efficient then the diesel would get 1.8 times the mpg. Pleas show me a vehicle where the diesel gets 1.8 ~ 2.2x the mpg of the gas version.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            If you do your homework (and not rely upon Wikipedia. which can be written by anyone), then you’ll find that passenger car diesel engines typically operate with a thermal efficiency in the 30+ percent range.

            The math is what it is. Arithmetic is not my opinion, and a diesel motor running at 50% efficiency would be getting at least twice the MPG of its gas equivalent.

            If you want to directly compare gas with diesel, then use CO2 levels, as those will equalize the difference in the density of the fuels. (Be sure to compare similar performance levels — comparing a slow diesel with a quicker, faster gas car will naturally overstate the benefits of the diesel.)

          • 0 avatar

            Well I’ve enjoyed listening to all the excuses why Diesel is no good for the average driver. Keep ’em coming. Now my sources are being discredited its getting pretty deep in here.

            The latest had me chuckling. Slow Diesel vs quick gas cars.

            This is exactly the FUD that was banded around 30+ years ago in Europe. Limited pumps at petrol stations, slow cars, delayed start, dirty, noisy, smelly. All these issues were resolved with newer diesels and greater fuel availability. Diesels in Europe drive just like petrol cars. When I first came to the states it was like stepping thru stargate. Old fashioned noisy, smelly, dirty diesels were the only option. No wonder they never took off.

            The current high price of diesel fuel is the ONLY reason I can see for not purchasing one over a gas car. (I personally wouldn’t buy either, EV’s only for me thanks).

            Some of the same reasons EV’s are rejected are used against Diesels. Gas cars are getting to be so much better!! Don’t switch!! No mention that gas now contains 15% ethanol that reduces gas mileage and buggers up your lawn equipment. Some progress.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Diesel fanaticism is odd. Inhaling particulates must do something to compromise logical reasoning.

            It’s fair to point out that one should avoid direct comparisons between vehicles that do not have similar performance levels, as higher output motors of all kinds consume more fuel. I’ve noticed a tendency among diesel fans to make apples and oranges comparisons whenever it helps their stories, such as directly comparing TDI and GTI versions of the Golf even though the GTI is much quicker and produces substantially more horsepower.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @JP, take a look at the MT Ram vs Ford vs Chevy test. With a 7000lb trailer hooked up the EcoDiesel took 21.2 sec for 45-65 while the EcoBoost only took 9.4 sec (despite the fact that it was only rated for 5,000lbs). In other words forget about passing in the EcoDiesel unless you have a lot of room to do so and towing that kind of weight is one of the reasons that the fan bois cite for why you should choose the EcoDiesel. Take the trailer out of the equation and it isn’t as bad but still not that great 3.2 sec for the Ford vs 5.1 for the Ram. So yeah concerning the truck that is the subject of this article it is slooow compared to the other options.

            Citing Wikipedia as a source…. don’t know what to tell you about that certainly the 12 year old boy that wrote/edited that knows what he is talking about.

            So where are your diesel vehicles that get 2x the mpg of the gas counterpart? Even when compared to the Hemi the EcoDiesel does not come anywhere near getting 2x the mpg.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Here’s another example:

            VW Jetta TDI: 140hp, 0-60 in 8 seconds
            VW Jetta 1.8T: 170hp, 0-60 in 7+ seconds

            The diesel gets a combined EPA rating of 36 mpg versus 29 mpg for the gas motor, a difference of 24%.

            But the CO2 ratings (which account for the higher energy density of diesel) are 283 grams for the diesel versus 301 grams for the gas motor — the diesel car has only a 6% fuel economy advantage, while providing slightly inferior performance. If the two cars produced the same horsepower, then that advantage would decline slightly.

            Net net, the diesel has perhaps a 5% advantage due to the higher compression. Nowhere close to a 100% difference.

          • 0 avatar

            @PCH.

            So using your ‘diesel is heavier’ argument you have whittled down the 24% diesel efficiency advantage down to 5%. Neat trick.

            Lets switch gears for a moment. The situation is more complex than either of us have given it credit for.

            75% of US consumed fuel is gasoline. 25% diesel. With no special processing one can expect to yield 40% gasoline from crude. There are two ways to get to 75% from 40%. Crack products such as naptha and heavy oils into gasoline, or simply refine more crude and sell the unwanted diesel abroad.

            If we look at world markets for finished oil products we can see that the second option is what the US refineries are choosing to do. So in effect to increase the 40% gasoline yield to 75% we are refining almost twice as much crude as we need to and simply sell the balance overseas. US refineries can do this thanks to the fact they have economies of scale to their advantage. We are selling primarily to West Africa stealing business from European refineries.

            If we had more diesel vehicles and used less gasoline proportionately, we’d need to consume considerably less crude. That won’t happen thanks to the competitive refineries manipulating the market to their advantage.

            Clearly the US refineries are trying to grab a larger share of the world finished fuels marketplace and have no intention of conserving crude, in fact the opposite is true. The more they refine, the more money they make. Keeping the % of gasoline consumed in the US high is a handy dandy way to achieve their goals. They’ll simply price gas and diesel in the US to achieve their objectives which will keep more efficient diesels off the US roads.

            http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304441404579123604287854862

            http://www.statista.com/statistics/189410/us-gasoline-and-diesel-consumption-for-highway-vehicles-since-1992/

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “So using your ‘diesel is heavier’ argument you have whittled down the 24% diesel efficiency advantage down to 5%. Neat trick.”

            That isn’t an “argument”, that’s just a fact.

            Your response is laughable. If you aren’t going to understand even the most basic things about the subject matter, then you really have no business being an advocate.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        “Their diesel repair costs don’t seem to anger them.”

        Europeans may have a higher threshold of pain. But it’s more likely a case of “It is what it is”.

        Most of their mechanics are well versed in diesel repairs. Over here, you’re headed to the diesel specialist. So just be ready to make his boat payment for him.

        If you can believe BAFO, our diesel fuel is dirtier.

        Diesels have it rougher over here. Lots of ground to cover in short periods of time. Urban sprawl and whatnot. Lots higher temps too, on average.

        A lot less places to buy diesel fuel too, which annoys me. I hate being forced to go to hole-in-the-wall stations, with no restrooms, limited beverages/snacks, limited hours. Because they undercut the name brand stations, the place is always packed and I can hardly get to the diesel pump.

        All in all, you can’t really compare the US to Europe. They love David Hasselhoff and all want to have his baby… Even some of the dudes!

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      “The U.S. refinery, transportation, and fuel dispenser infrastructure would have to undergo a massive and very costly changeover if most vehicles used diesel instead of gasoline.”

      Not really. US refineries export all their extra diesel fuel to places like Europe which needs more diesel than it can refine.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    As a diesel driver myself, VW jetta wagon, it is more than the sum of it parts, my TDI gets about 42 MPG on the highway driving about 75mph, I can get a littles less than 600 miles to a tank which I love, when you drive 30,000 miles a year that is a plus, it drives better than it;s gas version as far as pickup goes torque is very good, Fuel is about 15%- 20% more in NJ , today I paid 287 for fuel, RUG was $2.49, and in my case TDI have better resale than their gas cousins, do not know about other cars oil vs gas resale.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Did the MPGs jive with what the onboard computer reported?
    Did you run any figures with pencil and paper?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I do this freguently with new vehicles, and I’ve always found the computer readout to be very accurate when compared to manually calculating the consumption which admittedly introduces a few variables.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Each fillup is a little different so manual calculations are only accurate over a sizable number of tanks.

      On my own cars, my G8’s computer is absolutely dead accurate (within less than 1/10 of a mpg over however many tanks I want) and my Forester is consistently about 1%-2% optimistic (reporting better mpg than reality), a small enough gap to not matter.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      All run w paper and yes the computer was pretty damm close , I do better in the summer but not much when you factor in AC and bigger tires vs winter fuel and smaller tires

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I’ve really enjoyed the articles and look forward to whatever you have planned next.
    You really picked the perfect vehicle for the trip.

    Still, 40k for an almost base pickup is crazy talk, 27k, ok, 30k.., idk maybe. But $40,000? No way.

    I love the idea of the Diesel, though the “Eco” prefix needs to be dropped yesterday, but the engine really came out at the wrong time, and it could very well prove to be another 10 years for another diesel offering unless Fiatsler can drop the price option on the diesel considerably.

    Maybe next trip you can get a hellcat, Lux 3/4 diesel, or maybe someone will produce something with a big engine in it by that time(unlikely).

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Motortrend just reviewed a Tradesman Ram with the diesel engine, retailing for $32K. For Chrysler 300 money, you get:

      2WD
      Short cab
      Vinyl seats
      Crank windows
      A stereo
      Four wheels
      Some sheet metal

      You’re right, base pickup prices are crazy talk.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Nice review, good series, enjoyed it, Thanks. If I was in the market for a full size this would be it, I would want a higher spec level though.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Damn, all you old fogeys fussing about the cost of diesel, and nobody at all asking the important question- what’s with all the mommas you were showing the back seat??

    ;)

  • avatar
    jvossman

    Matt- thanks for the review and the fun ride. Question, you averaged a very nigh mpg on the trip and on the 30 mpg photo, you have the cruise set at 55mph. What was your average speed for your trip? At least here in FL, I usually am doing 75mph and wonder what the average mileage would be.

    Thx

    jv

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