QOTD: Gas Pump Workaround?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd gas pump workaround

If you’re as paranoid as this writer, chances are your formerly daily driver has long since sailed past its last regularly scheduled fill-up date. The last time any fresh gasoline hit the innards of your author’s high-end motorcar was three and a half weeks ago. The needle’s now resting just north of a quarter tank.


Frankly, it’s cause for concern, as adding useless miles to the odometer has typically served as a mental tonic for yours truly. At the same time, who wants to encounter people or things they’ve touched? That friendly neighborhood gas pump is no longer the welcoming monument it once was (with Doritos, no less). Wouldn’t it be great to drive past it without a care?

“Just give me 20 miles,” I keep thinking, hypermiling my sumptuous Cruze to my favorite running spot roughly 2 miles from home. “20 miles of range I can add at home, keeping that 1.4-liter BEAST in reserve. Why, oh why, did I purchase such a gas pig?!?”

The solution to my problem would be the sudden appearance of a plug-in hybrid in my parking spot. Sure, an electric vehicle would do the trick, and we’ve talked about that before, but a PHEV offers the best of both worlds. I could tool around the Omega Man-like streets of my deserted city, keeping my ICE and gas tank offline until called upon for some sort of emergency (or carefree road trips when borders eventually reopen).

People enjoy choice, but in North America the additional expense, weight, and trade-off in cargo volume (a less common concern nowadays) of PHEVs turns many consumers off. Why not flip the automaker an extra couple of grand for a conventional hybrid, or go all-in with an EV? How else to explain the decline and demise of the Chevrolet Volt?

A vehicle like the Volt (yes, it’s technically a series hybrid, but it works out just the same) would suit me just fine right now. Plenty of plug-in range and a gas generator waiting to fire up should I push it too far. Chances are I wouldn’t have to fill up till summer.

Plug-in hybrids probably aren’t your bag… and that’s okay! But no one likes pumping gas while wearing a t-shirt over their face and plastic bags on their hands, then watching their gas gauge like a cheating spouse. Just for today, put yourself in my mindset. Which PHEV currently on the market (or scheduled to land this year) would get your buy?

[Image: General Motors]

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9 of 79 comments
  • Rudiger Rudiger on Apr 11, 2020

    There are lots of terrific PHEV choices. For a CUV, the Mitsubishi Outlander doesn't have much of an EV range but it 'does' have one ace-in-the-hole: DCFC capability. No other PHEV has that (yet). Now, if the upcoming RAV4 PHEV includes DCFC, it would easily trump the Mitsu. For max hauling capacity, though, it's the Pacifica Hybrid. You can stuff a lot of humans/cargo in one of those without burning any gas for ~34 miles. If a sedan will do, the Honda Clarity has an EV range of 47 miles. And if you don't mind buying used, a second generation Volt, although smaller than the Clarity, has the same range and, unlike the Clarity, is a hatchback. Just make sure to get the top-tier version with the 7.2kWh charger. Charge times of lesser Volts aren't so great.

    • See 5 previous
    • -Nate -Nate on Apr 16, 2020

      @-Nate Yes, the 'free' charging station I was thinking of is always full of Teslas and nothing else . I got a post card in the mail yesterday saying the largest free charging station in the U.S.A. just opened, up on the roof of some building, I dropped that card into the shredder with all my junk, old bills etc. . -Nate

  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Apr 12, 2020

    @SaulTigh: Another grocery store shut down due to COVID. A store in Vaughan Ontario (Northwest suburb of Toronto) closed after 8 more of its workers test positive. This despite the store being closed and sanitized a couple of weeks prior. So much for your assumption/prediction.

    • JimZ JimZ on Apr 12, 2020

      that's what happens when we let people believe that reality is just a matter of opinion. if he doesn't believe any grocery store workers caught it, then no grocery store worker has caught it.

  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).
  • Steve Biro It takes very clever or amusing content for me to sit through a video vehicle review. And most do not include that.Tim, you wrote :"Niche titles aren't dying because of a lack of interest from enthusiasts, but because of broader changes in the economics of media, at least in this author's opinion."You're right about the broader changes in economics. But the truth is that there IS a lack of interest from enthusiasts. Part of it is demographics. Young people coming up are generally not car and truck fans. That doesn't mean there are no young enthusiasts but the numbers are much smaller. And even those who consider themselves enthusiasts seem to have mixed feelings. Just take a look at Jalopnik.And then we come to the real problem: The vast majority of new vehicles coming out today are not interesting to enthusiasts, are not fun to drive and/or are just not affordable.You can argue that EVs are technically interesting and should create enthusiasm. But the truth is they are not fun to drive, don't work well enough yet for most people and are very expensive.EVs on the race track? Have you ever been to a Formula E race? Please.And even if we set EVs aside, the electronic nannies that are being forced on us pretty much preclude a satisfying driving experience in any brand-new vehicle, regardless of propulsion system. Sure, many consumers who view cars as transportation appliances may welcome this technology. But they are not enthusiasts. I don't know about you, but I and most car fans I know don't want smart phones on wheels.There is simply not that much of interest to write about. Car and Driver and Road & Track are dipping deeper into nostalgia and their archives as a result. R&T is big on sponsoring road trips for enthusiasts - which is a great idea. But only people with money to burn need apply.And then there is the problem of quality in automotive writing. As more experienced people are let go and more money is cut from publications, the quality and length of pieces keeps going down, leading to the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy.Even the output on this site is sharply reduced from its peak. And the number of responses to posts seems a small fraction of what it used to be. This is my first comment since the site was recently relaunched. I don't expect to be making many in the future.Frankly Tim - and it gives me no pleasure to write this - but your post makes me feel as though the people running this site have run out of ideas and TTAC's days may be numbered.Cutbacks in automotive journalism are upsetting. But, until there is something exciting and fun to write about, they are going to continue. Perhaps automotive enthusiasm really was a 20th century phenomenon..
  • THX1136 I think that the good ole interwebs is at least partially to blame. When folks can get content for free, what is the motivation to pay to read? I'm guilty of this big time. Gotta pay to read!? Forget it! I'll go somewhere else or do without. And since a majority of folks have that portable PC disguised as a phone in their pocket, no need for print. The amount of info easily available is the other factor the web brings to bear. It's perhaps harder now to stand out. Standing out is necessary to continued success.In an industry I've been interested (and participated) in, the one magazine (Mix) I subscribed to has become a shadow of it's former self (200 pgs now down to 75). I like print for the reasons mentioned by another earlier. I can 'access' it in a non-linear fashion and it's easily portable for me. (Don't own a smarty pants phone and don't plan to at the moment.)I would agree with others: useful comparison reviews, unique content not easily available other places, occasional ringers (Baruth, Sajeev, et al) - it would be attractive to me anyway. I enjoy Corey, Matt and Murilee and hope they continue to contribute here.
  • Daniel J I wish auto journos would do more comparisons. They do some but many are just from notes from a previous review compared to a new review. I see where journos go out to a location and test drive and review a vehicle on location but that does absolutely nothing for me without any comparison to similar cars. I also wish more journos spent more time on seat comfort. I guess that doesn't matter much when many journos seem to be smaller folks where comfort isn't as important. Ergonomics are usually just glossed over unless there is something very specific about the ergonomics that tick the journo off. I honestly get more from most youtube reviews than I ever do about reviews written on a page.