Choose Your Weapon
Jason Cammisa: I don't know what's more ridiculous, the choice of vehicles (three V-8-powered gas guzzlers) or the choice of writers (three impatient native New Yorkers). If I'm going to have to spend five miserable hours in Los Angeles traffic, I'm glad I got the hottest car. The only thing "hyper" about me is my right foot, and I'm convinced that all the tricks these hypermiling weenies use are just plain dangerous. I'm seriously considering driving the M3 like a maniac, having a great time, and accidentally on purpose losing graciously.
Joe Lorio: Although it's the least fabulous, I'm not really disappointed to draw the Yukon. It's not as if we'll be able to use any of the performance of the M3 or the M45x. The four-wheel-drive Yukon appears to be at a disadvantage because of its size and weight, but it has a six-speed automatic (with a manual shift function), and although it's not the Hybrid version, its V-8 does have the ability to run as a V-4, so maybe that will help. Plus, it has satellite radio.
Preston Lerner: If we're going to spend the better part of a day in a car, then comfort is job one, and I'm happy to take the Infiniti. In preparation for this story, I started surfing various hypermiling Web sites and online forums. The best I found was ecomodder.com, and I took special note of its 108 - count 'em, 108 - tips for improving your fuel efficiency. To more closely monitor their effectiveness, I hook up a ScanGauge to the Infiniti's OBD-II port. This will give me an instant fuel economy readout, updated every two seconds.
Leg 1, Los Angeles to Santa Barbara
PL: On a three-by-five index card, I've prepared a cheat sheet with some of what seem to me to be the best of ecomodder's tips: DWB (Drive Without Braking), Lane of Least Resistance, and so on. I'm multitasking with a vengeance, trying to navigate traffic, figure out where I'm going, time lights, etc. - and not doing a very good job of it. I generally use the automatic transmission's manual mode to get into higher gears sooner. But the manual mode's separate gate prevents me from quickly throwing the car into neutral. Then, again and again, when I have the car in neutral at a stoplight, I forget to put it into gear after the restart and rev the engine uselessly, so that whatever fuel I've saved while stopping at the light is immediately wasted before I leave the intersection.