Driving usually isn't much of a challenge, but sometimes we make it one: Attempting to beat our best time for a trip. Trying to perfectly execute a heel-and-toe downshift. Plotting to nab the best possible parking space. Such activities add interest to the routine. What about the challenge of coaxing the most miles out of every gallon of gasoline? For us, that was a new one.
A contest of economy looked to be every bit as much a measure of skill, cunning, and iron will as is a contest of speed. This type of competitive driving is newly relevant and increasingly popular. Naturally, there are Web sites devoted to it. You've probably heard the word that describes it - hypermiling, for which CleanMPG.com's Wayne Gerdes takes credit. The term is relatively new, but the techniques behind it are not. In fact, the idea of a fuel-economy contest stretches back at least to the 1930s, with the widely publicized Mobilgas Economy Runs.
We decided to construct an economy run of our own, a test of man and machine. Ah, but which machines? To take the concept out of the realm of Toyota Prius owners and biodiesel Volkswagen Golf drivers, we wanted gas guzzlers. An SUV for sure, a sports car, a luxury sedan - the kind of cars with drinking habits closer to our depressing national fleet average (just over 20 mpg).... Read full article