By on June 1, 2018

Hyundai Ioniq Blue, Image: HyundaiRick writes:

Hi Sajeev:

With the demise of diesel cars and 21 gallon fuel tanks, I am on the hunt for a true long-range cruiser. The “old” diesel cars were big, comfortable and had a freeway range of over 800 miles. Not that I would actually drive 800+ miles in one sitting.

But, with highway construction and traffic delays being what they are nowadays, an 800 mile range boils down to a usable 500 or 600 miles or so of real range-free worries. And yes, I have been known to do a single day 1,000+ mile trip. So, a sedan or coupe (van maybe?), comfortable on a long trip, and reasonably reliable. I do a lot of overnight driving.

And, no “add a fuel tank.” Lets keep it stock. Suggestions?

Sajeev answers:

I can’t mention LS1+super tall T56 swaps either? Fine. 

Tough question, but perhaps the answer is a CPO 2016 Mercedes E250 Bluetec with its impressive 675 mile range. Slightly worse is the 2015 six-speed manual VW Passat TDI with 629 miles per tank. Which should do better than its 2014 automatic counterpart with 2 mpg less on the same fuel tank, though the EPA says otherwise? But I digress…

If a new ride is mandatory, the Cruze diesel looks pretty good with a robust 500 mile range. Except tall geared, large tank’d Jaguar and BMW luxobarges go further with more comfort … at least until they are regulated out of existence in their homeland? No matter, there’s competition from plug-in hybrids from the usual suspects (but don’t forget Hyundai!) and they aren’t likely to be banned from urban centers in Europe.

But who’s the real winner in the long-range cruiser battle?

Unless I perused fueleconomy.gov incorrectly, the 59 mpg Hyundai Ioniq Blue wins with a stunning 690 mile range. It’ll never be a Bluetec Benz on the highway but is it comfortable enough to drive for that long? If only your favorite automotive journalist (wink) was on the press car circuit, he’d drop everything and make a road trip from Houston to El Paso to find out!

EDIT: Looks like I did indeed peruse fueleconomy.gov incorrectly! You can get a seriously big fuel tank in trucks, how about 792 miles for a 2.7L Ford F-150?

[Image: Hyundai]

Send your queries to [email protected]m. 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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67 Comments on “Piston Slap: Go Blue, Wither the Long Range Cruiser?...”


  • avatar
    dima

    I know that Ford C-max hybrid is discontinued but, It can easily fit the bill. It is not unheard of to have 800 miles per tank. what a heck, in central Europe I am routinely getting 900~1100 km per tank. Also, it is a pretty comfortable and quiet cruiser. Yes, I would not drive it pass 170 km/h but in states it can do very well at 75 ml/h.
    My 2 cents.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I would say it is unheard of to get 800 miles out of a C-Max tank. The EPA says it has a 540 mile range and ours will show 490-500 miles to empty when after filling and that is optimistic. That is with a currently indicated 38.5 running average which still is including the tail end of winter. Note I ditched the LRR tires for UHP so one could certainly do better but not that much better. Even if you manage to bump that to 50mpg which I’m sure can be done that only gets you to 675

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The crew cab long bed Super Duty has a 48 gallon tank from the factory. Even at 15 mpg that’s still over 700 miles, and a Powerstroke would likely do better. No, it’s not a sedan or coupe but for unsurpassed range, this is it.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      I drove from SLC to Portland on one tank (with zero stops, even) in my 2000 F-350 CC/LWB 7.3L. I think that was a 42-gallon tank. Ended up being about 800 miles and 19mpg.

      I’ll readily acknowledge that I kept the speedo pinned at 55MPH the whole way (tough to do through Idaho…). At normal cruising speeds (75), that truck would get about 16 on the highway, for a still respectable range of almost 700 miles.

      My current F-150, the 3.5L with 36-gallon tank, claims 23MPG highway. With its 36-gallon tank that would in theory be 828 miles. But in reality the best I’ve ever gotten, even keeping it at 60MPH, is 19MPG for a 684 mile range.

  • avatar
    RSF

    Easy- F150 with the optional 36 gallon fuel tank. My 2016 3.5L ecoboost crew can easily see 22 mpg at 70mph, sometimes more. Using up 34 gallons with 2 left in the tank gives a range of 748 miles. Last summer I drove Houston to Crested Butte, Colorado and back. I was filling up and seeing a range to empty of over 900 miles!! In the normal day to day Houston commute I see 19-20mpg with a realistic range of 650 miles.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    As noted above. The new highway cruiser is the CC pick up. Decent MPG, comfortable ride to lay down miles, and optional huge gas tanks.

    FWIW, when I had my MT Cummins CC I could do about 600 highway miles before I felt the need to start looking for fuel.

  • avatar
    redapple

    FAKE NEWS
    Stupid topic

    You should stop at least every 4 hours to take a break.
    Stretch your legs.
    Drink o water
    Pee.
    Gassing up wont take that long.

    Longest gas range is a silly version of a D!&k measuring contest.
    Jeez.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Thanks, Mom.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGrieves

      Exactly. You run the risk of DVT if sitting too long. My aunt developed DVT from flying in coach. I like to stop every 2-3 hours and do Prisoner Lunges around the parking lot until I am sufficiently winded or legs are burning. It gets weird looks but really shakes the cobwebs off.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        I fell ill in 2009 and was nearly bedridden for a week along with dehydration and ended up with a DVT in my leg. Never, ever want to do that again. Awful experience.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Did you read the first paragraph?

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        Flip

        Yes – I did. I am sorry. I have a short temper when it comes to complete and utter BS.

        If you admit you will be stopping -now and then. What s the big deal stopping for gas. Therefore, stupid post.

        OK now? Or more explanation needed.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think the biggest appeal of fuel range is that you have to fill up less often during a “normal” month.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @ajla understands. My Highlander doesn’t really get terrible fuel economy for what it is but due to a small tank and wanting to fill up when it just dips below 1/4 means that I can only go a bit over 320 miles between fill ups in just about any driving conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Ransdell

      Lots of reasons to appreciate long range (Cruze Diisel owner here)…

      Only fill up once a week or whatever instead of multiple times
      Take advantage of price differential between one area or another (for us it’s PA and NJ both of which we are in every week)

      Etc.

      One of our cars (Ford Focus) rarely takes more than 10 gallons per fill up resulting in a <400 mile range (and that's pushing it). The Cruze holds over 14 and gets better MPG too. It's a feature we care about. We have friends with a new Malibu who complain (as have some reviews) that the gas tank seems tiny at 13 gallons for the non turbo motors. That's seriously small for a family car.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      But on the US interstate system you can stop, stretch your legs, take a pee in the quick on and quick off rest stops. For gas you are going to have to get off the highway.

      The long range will allow you to pick and choose when you get fuel. It minimizes the need to get fuel at that exit station in the middle of nowhere that charges 25 cents more per gallon than the stations in that big city another 50-100 miles away.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Half tons are outstanding for this, a tank sized for towing at 8 mpg will run 700 miles without the trailer back there.

    Sticking to cars, the closer you get to CAFE 2025 the smaller the tanks get so stick to the ones that haven’t been redesigned yet. The 7 year old Passat still takes 18.5 gallons. The 6 year old Altima takes 18. Three more mpg out of the latest and greatest won’t make up for the four gallons that aren’t there anymore.

    Looking at CUVs, don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Ltd1983

      Yeah, I routinely got 650-700 miles out of a tank on my old 2013 Altima on long trips. I make a 1300 mile drive a couple times a year, and I did it multiple times by filling up the morning I left, and only one more time along the way.

      “Hypermiling” it on one 100 mile trip I was able to get almost 50 mpg out of the CVT/4 combo, but even on regular trips with AC on and constant idling for dogs, etc, I would average 37-40 mpg without trying.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    According to Tesla owners, nobody EVER needs to drive more than 300 miles before refueling. For any trip longer than that, they are likely to use their private jet while their big battery Tesla recharges at the airport fast charger. If airport availability is marginal, then you will simply need to find an available supercharger on your route, stop for 45 minutes to get 80% charge(240 miles), and repeat as necessary – easy peasy.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I get the snark, but a Model S holds an EV cross-country record of under 52 hours:

      https://www.theverge.com/2017/7/9/15938028/tesla-model-s-cannonball-run-record

      http://freedom5000.org/ – 2830 miles, 20 charges, 52 hours

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        But a BMW M5 did it in 28 hours. Bragging about EV cross-country records is sort of like bragging about the 100 meter sprint record for one legged senior citizens.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @stingray: Not everyone needs to buy a car that can make long-distance trips. Sure, some do. Large families that would have to pay a fortune to fly even with heavy discounts and people that travel long distances to places not served by regular air service. I get that. EVs aren’t for everyone yet.

      Teslas and pretty much any other EV can make it to an airport and back without plugging in. If you can afford a $70k car you can afford airfare. Flying means not having to put up with the stress of dealing with idiots on the road. Long road trips are no longer fun to me. It also consumes a lot of time. I don’t want to waste 12 hours on the road to travel a distance that can be covered in 3 hours flying – or less than 2 hours with an on-demand charter.

      When I was first considering an EV, I took a look and noticed I hadn’t traveled long distances in a car in years. Even when I did, I typically would rent a car rather than use my own.

      When someone buys an EV, they’ve made a decision and understand the limitations. People in the US can buy the vehicle they want and some of us choose to own an EV. Charge times, range limitations etc. are something we’re aware of. We buy them anyway and the issues aren’t a problem for us. Many of us buy them because of what we think are performance advantages. Not everyone is buying one for green purposes.

      I saw a woman today with a dual wheel pickup. Not a vehicle for me, but I’m sure she had a good reason for owning it. Given the area, she probably owned horses. I’m not going to go online and bash her for owning one. I’m sure it uses a lot of fuel, but that’s her business. She’s paying for it. She had a choice in vehicles and I hope she bought what she wanted and I’m fine with it. I’m not going to bash the CEO of the company she bought it from and I’m not going to complain about the range – and above all, I’m not going to bash owners of these vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      Yes, I was going to suggest a Tesla. No need for gas at all. All supercharger stops are known, open 24 hours a day and located in mostly nice areas. Vastly superior.

      Ever since I got a Tesla, my long trips have become much easier. Highly recommended.

  • avatar

    Big tank’d Trucks: brilliant!

    Looks like I did indeed peruse fueleconomy.gov incorrectly! 792 miles for a 2.7L F-150: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=39241

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      It is not brilliant, Sajeev, it is deeply disturbing that such behemoths are now considered “passenger vehicles.”

      • 0 avatar

        They are 1970s “Personal Luxury” land yachts with lift kits, somewhat better steering, and way better brakes. History repeats itself.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          If I get one for my next ride I won’t even pretend it’s not a sedan analogue. Slap a hard tonneau on it (instant trunk!) and admit that it is my compensation for not being able to get the BOF sedans that my forefathers enjoyed.

      • 0 avatar
        RSF

        Nick- It’s not disturbing at all. My F150 can do everything I need to do and I can own only one vehicle. I can commute, load up the wife, kids, dog, 4 mountain bikes and hook up the 7000 lb camper and head out with no issues, go off road, go for a night out on the town in style, etc etc.. I can do it all in comfort and very efficiently.

        Small cars aren’t for me and trucks aren’t for you. That’s what’s cool about where we live. We can still choose to buy what we each like!

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          I think Nick’s point, though, is that the vast majority of F-150 miles (somewhere over 90%, I’d guess, and that may be conservative) are accrued with the truck hauling one thing: the driver.

          If you’re doing all the things you state, more power to you. But a commuter/grocery getter — and that’s what the F-150 is for the majority of its owner base, whether they admit to it or not — that gets mid-to-high teens city and low to mid-20s highway is not an efficient vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I’m pretty sure more than 10 percent of F150 sales are fleet. Those trucks get worked so even if every f150 sold to an individual only ever hauled air (they don’t), you’d still be wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            A 30-second internet search didn’t give me a quick answer, so grain of salt, but most of the working Ford vehicles I see (not counting limo/taxi/rideshare vehicles) actually are Transit Connects, Transits, and the F-250-and-up heavy duty trucks. There undoubtedly are a lot of commercial F-150s out there, but they’re awash in a sea of personal F-150s being used in the role of a car. For the median F-150 owner, his vehicle is a commuter/grocery getter (or commuter/grocery getter/rolling codpiece if we want to get snarky).

            It’s not a binary proposition. There undoubtedly are owners like RSF for whom the F-150 is a somewhat efficient vehicle in a mixed-use role. Heck, my own parents own a pick-up truck, though it’s smaller than an F-150 and isn’t racking up commuter-level miles. But Nick’s basic point isn’t wrong. As most of them are used, the F-150 doesn’t constitute an efficient use of metal, plastic, rubber, and (especially) fuel.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          RSF – I hear you and appreciate it. I’ll take all the arguments you make in good faith. But seriously… are you ready to argue that “all Americans need an F-150”? I have no problem with trucks, and understand they are the right tool for some people. What I find disturbing is us talking as if they are the right tool for everyone.

          Sajeev… yes they are. That’s a little crazy.

          Featherston… yes and thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      You can get the eco-diesel with a 32 gallon tank too- so 850+ miles.

      But even better- get a Titan fuel tank.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    OK, so trucks with big gas tanks, hybrids, and diesels are good long range cruisers.

    But what’s the best bottle to pee in? I nominate the Snapple wide mouth 20 oz.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Depends on one’s hand size I guess :)

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Seconded; have one in the door pocket of my daily hatch and my pickup.

      Backup, or for those more concerned about sanitation, I recommend the McDonalds large cups. Have to be careful if you get the foam, but they’re better sized for the drink->dump->dispose sequence.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I loved my tdi wagon for it ‘s real world 550 miles range so I understand this mans issues, I can not see driving a cruz for a full tank, I like the MB blue tech or an older e class one w a larger tank, if your looking to spend less the VW passat is the way to go, as far the trucks keep in mind besides being a small fortune to fill up , it takes a good amount of time to refill a tank that large. One suggestion, test them out at night if you can, it seems the headlights will be as important as the fuel tank. I would track down a CPO Jag XF oil burner and go with that. No idea what the GM “small ” pickups get in range but I think they come with oil burners as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      I rented a Jaguar XF with the 3.0 V6 diesel ( sadly not available in North America) and averaged 51 MPG in all the driving I did in the UK. Freeway cruising would have raised the mileage. Amazing for a car that could do the 0-100 km/h (62 mph) dash in 5.9 seconds.

  • avatar
    ATLOffroad

    I enjoy cars with longer range. My 99 Ford Expedition with a 4.6L and a 30 gallon tank would routinely get 550 miles. It was great to have when exploring the Rocky Mountains. Sometimes I was unsure when the next gas station will coming along. I sold it for an 06 Tundra. I usually get 280 miles on it’s tank. Carrying two Jerry Cans in the bed is a bit of a pain, but they’ve come in handy.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    I did a similar exercise to get a commuter car that will allow me to gas ones weekly with my 120+ miles daily commute, plus it is comfortable. I would not really want to sit in an Ionic for 3-4 hours a day and merging or passing or hilly driving could be a chore.

    The car I got? 2012 Camry XLE hybrid. About 40 mpg (rated at 39) and a 17 gallon tank. That’s a 663 comfortable miles. One can get the LE that is rated at 40 an go to 680, but creature comforts, like heated leather seats, satellite radio and navigation win. Any Camry from 2012-2017 should give you that range. Unfortunately the new models that are rated at 45 mpg have a baby 14 gallon tank, dropping it down to 630.

    Hard to find in an XLE trim, but it is worth it to look for one.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      I have a 2015 Camry XLE Hybrid. My overall average (computed the old-school way, that is, miles driven divided by gallons used) is 41 mpg. It’s easy to go 600+ miles (nice to be able to skip high-priced locations or even whole states in the east).

      Not drinking (much) means you don’t get desperate searching for restrooms. But we will still stop and stretch every 2 hours or so, more if there are photo ops like old cars or scenic overlooks.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Rick, let’s say you’ve got a 600 mile range, and let’s assume you can average 60 mph. That would entail driving ten straight hours. You can do that without using a bathroom and stretching your legs? I’m impressed.

    • 0 avatar
      srh

      I did 15 hours once driving from SLC to PDX. I found, to my surprise, that if I never stopped to get a liquid refreshment then I never needed to stop to pee.

      In a big vehicle I could do enough moving in the driver’s seat to quell some of the discomfort.

      I wouldn’t want to do it every day (I value my liquids too much) but it can be done.

  • avatar
    MercedesDieselGuy72

    I have to second the suggestion of the E250 Bluetec. As my user name suggests, I am a long term M-B diesel enthusiast, but I daily drive said E250 Bluetec 4-Matic and routinely get 43mpg on the highway, without trying. I am also a long road trip guy, and have easily gotten 675 miles on a tank with cruise control at 75-80 mpg, and if trying hard to get better mileage I have squeaked 760 miles out of a tank.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Slight modification, but a 1G (2011-2016) Chevy Cruze Eco 6M can get 650-700 miles per tank (or more) if you swap out the fuel pump to a non-Eco part.

    The Eco came with “only” a 12.6 gallon tank and the rest with a 15.6 gallon tank. The tanks themselves were exactly the same – all 15.6 gallons – the difference is the Eco fuel pump assembly closed the fill vent 3 gallons early (to save weight in fuel for EPA tests).

    The relatively simple and inexpensive swap/hack adds 120-150 miles to the already ~500 mile standard Eco range.

    On regular gas, no less. And the cars are quiet and comfortable for long trips despite being an economy car.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      That is ridiculously stupid, but obviously it was a way to game the EPA testing for the better from GM’s perspective. Wow.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Wow, Jeff, I didn’t know that. Pretty interesting.

      I was the frequent recipient of 1G Cruze rentals. On balance, I like them. My unlimited capacity fantasy garage would include a ’14 LTZ with 1LT 16″ alloys swapped on (the ’15 restyle was pointless, and wheels/tire packages on the 2LT and LTZ were a functional downgrade).

  • avatar
    W210Driver

    Long legs, less stops and comfortable cruising are the reasons why I bought my 1998 Mercedes E300 Turbodiesel and still drive it. There was nothing else like it on the market back then.

    They are normally rated at 31-32 mpg but under ideal conditions and with intelligent driving I’ve gotten 37 mpg on cross country trips. I love my diesel Mercedes (and of course my V8 ‘97 E420).

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    as much as I love E class diesels the routine maintenance of HPF fuel filters , urea etc would make me lean towards a Passat 1.8t -preferably a Sport 5mt, or Avalon hybrid- boasting an LS sized interior , Dba levels and 87 octane fuel requirement as well as a decent sized fuel tank ,>600 mile range.

  • avatar
    grein002

    I’ve managed 575 miles in my 2015.5 Volvo S60 w/2.0 turbo (NC to FL). 17 gallon tank coupled with 35-37 mpg, with AC on and cruising at around 70 MPH.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My Optima Hybrid will get a real 40+ mpg on the highway if you keep to the speed limit. Its 17.7 gallon tank means you can go 600+ miles on a tank – closer to 700 if you push it.

    Living in western PA, I once drove across the state and back on 1 tank of gas, with range to spare (~600 mile round trip).

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      That was my experience with my 2012 Passat 2.5l 5 speed, not TDI. I got about 37 mpg on long trips (cruising at 75 mph on average) and about 600 miles on a tank. A trip of 1200 miles to Florida would only require one fuel stop. We would stop more frequently to change drivers, stretch our legs, go to the bathroom…

  • avatar
    Rick

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions! Truly informative.

    I had no idea that trucks like the F150 came with optional large tanks.
    That could be the setup if I get a new vehicle. The other idea would be to find
    a clean 2016 Mercedes diesel coming off of lease next year.

    Also thanks for the hybrid car information. I have always wondered if the actual
    highway mileage would match the EPA estimates. Without any benefit from the
    battery portion of the hybrid in highway mode, I debated whether they would
    actually “work” as advertised.

    With a ~600 mile range, it sounds like the Toyota or the Hyundai could be
    options. Maybe the Accord hybrid. We have owned a lot of Hondas over the
    years and they have been ( for us anyway ) rock solid.

    I have another 2000+ mile ( round trip ) coming up in late July. Unfortunately
    the only car available this time is my 2017 Fit with the 6 speed manual.

    Great mileage but a TINY 10 gallon tank.

    Thanks again to the best and brightest!!!!!

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    You don’t have to go hybrid, diesel, or optionally huge gargantuan tanked pickup to go far these days. Lots of newer cars have great highway mileage with multi speed trannies and turbocharging.

    Took a BMW 320i on a road trip out west and got 40 mpg out of the first tank (that was with ethanol free gas). Most of that first leg was on the interstate with the cruise set on 80. Only had to fill up a handful of times over 5 days spent driving hundreds of miles each day. Mileage did drop to around 36-37 mpg once I got into the ethanol blends, but with a 17.5 gallon tank it still had a very deep range. I was pretty impressed.

    Contrast that with the very first road trip my then girlfriend and now wife took in her Ford Expedition with the boat anchor 3v 5.4L Triton and a 28 gallon tank. Had to fill up every single morning on that trip, and we weren’t driving nearly as much. Her current F150 with a 36 gal tank, 5.0 Coyote and 2 more cogs in the tranny does much better.

  • avatar
    salguod

    Previous generation Accord Hybrid. With an EPA combined of 47 MPG and a 15.8 gallon tank, that’s a theoretical range of 742. Our 2015 regularly goes 600+ miles on a tank and has gone as far as 680.

  • avatar
    CaptainJon

    I’ll never see 700 miles on a tank, but my wife’s 4-cyl 2015 TLX is always good for mid-500’s on the highway cycle, and it’s a wonderful highway cruiser. The 17″ wheel / tire combo makes for very comfortable cruising, the seats are wonderful, and the car is very quiet at speed.

    We live in Sacramento, and due to a sick family member in SoCal, I’m frequently making the 420 mile trip down I-5. The range allows me to make the trip without stopping, and leaves enough gas for most of my time down there.

    This car is incorrectly marketed as a “sport-sedan” It’s truly a high-way cruiser of wonderful capability.


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