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AutoBlog: Consumer Reports tests fuel efficiency vs. speed; Honda Insight biggest loser


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2010 Honda Insight - Click above for high-res image gallery

The faster you drive, the more fuel you use. Common sense, right? Absolutely, but it's still helpful to see real-life data, as you'll see by checking out the results of a recent test performed by Consumer Reports. Not all cars perform the same at various speed limits, and as you might expect, America's most fuel efficient models are also the vehicles most affected by higher speeds.

A total of seven vehicles were tested by CR: a Acura TSX with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder; a new 2010 Honda Insight; a Lexus RX350; a Mercury Mountaineer with 4.6-liter V8; Toyota Camry and RAV4 with 2.5-liter four-bangers; and a Yaris with a 1.5-liter four.

As you're probably aware, today's hybrids are optimized for high fuel economy at city speeds and therefore lose much of their miserly ways on the highway. As it turns out, this was especially true of the new Insight hybrid, which lost over 15 miles per gallon moving the needle from 55 mph to 75 mph - the largest drop in the contest. Click here for the complete test results.

[source: Consumer Reports]

Consumer Reports tests fuel efficiency vs. speed; Honda Insight biggest loser originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 10 Sep 2009 15:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Interesting, I loose less than 2 MPG going from 55 to 75. Believe it or not, even going 85 doesn't seem to drop it more than about 4 MPG.

Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not surprised that the only hybrid and highest MPG car of the group saw the sharpest drops going faster.

I am surprised at how well the Yaris retained its mileage going faster. Perhaps it is extraordinarily aerodynamic. I'd rather chalk it up to margin of error though. ;]

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Ruh-roh. Insight Hybrid not for teh win at highway MPG, sounds like.

I haven't driven at 75 in quite a while, but IIRC at long distance open road freeway speeds like that I get maybe 1-2 mpg less on average (16/17 vs 18) compared to my normal current commute (up to 65 on freeways, down to 10-30 in congestion + street stop and go..)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Ruh-roh. Insight Hybrid not for teh win at highway MPG, sounds like.

"But the most significant change in fuel economy comes from the most fuel-efficient vehicles we tested.

The Honda Insight hybrid showed the largest drop in fuel economy—over 15 mpg going from 55 to 75 mph. The Toyota Camry returned 40.3 mpg at 55 mph, but that reduces to almost 35 mpg when the speed moves up to 65 mph and drops to almost 30 mpg when speeds reach 75 mph. That’s a drop of about 5 mpg for every 10 miles over 55. Vehicles with lower fuel efficiency had the smallest drop. The V8-powered Mercury Mountaineer has a fuel economy of 23.8 mpg at 55 mph and that drops to 21.2 mpg at 65 and 17.8 at 75 mph."

Well that's a littls misleading.

Let's do a little math.

Extra fuel to travel 100 miles @75MPH vs 55MPH:

0.59 Yaris

0.75 TSX

0.81 Insight

0.87 Camry

0.97 RAV4

1.12 RX350

1.42 Mountaineer

So yes, the most fuel efficient cars had the largest drop in fuel economy, but they also had the least amount of extra fuel used.

What was their point exactly?

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Your math is the long way around to a shiny, sparkly 'DUH!' there, GXT. You're still comparing MPG directly, your way.

I don't think the piece is misleading (I did not click the link)- but it is very interesting for comparison purposes; folk say their camry gets 40 MPG, but on the highways here in Jersey, following the flow- it only gets 30. That's a huge perceptive difference.

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It would be better to know the total consumption figure over a set distance, such as gallons per mile or litres per kilometer. Viewing the figures from the article only helps to tell the story from a particular viewpoint on 'just how efficient are fuel-efficient engines?'

It's not exactly common knowledge that a smaller engine has to work harder at a higher RPM to sustain higher speeds; however, it would take a lot of ignorant people to believe that a fuel-efficient engine would be anything but at all speeds. Articles like this have an angle. I prefer sticking to facts that help educate the reader as to what the findings mean and why.

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One of the worst V8s for fuel economy and power. Had they picked a better V8, I think the results might have been a lot different.

Remember the test of the M3 v. Pruis? The Pruis had to drive all out and all the M3 had to do was keep up with the Pruis. The Pruis got worse mileage than the M3.

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One of the worst V8s for fuel economy and power. Had they picked a better V8, I think the results might have been a lot different.

Remember the test of the M3 v. Pruis? The Pruis had to drive all out and all the M3 had to do was keep up with the Pruis. The Pruis got worse mileage than the M3.

I cant tell you what my mpg was at 55 65 and 75, but I can tell you what it was at 62 and 90. I recently drove to Texas in my GTO, and I got 27mpg at 62, and 21.5mpg at 90. Percentage wise, that compares with the Yaris's 20% drop going from 55 to 75.

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Your math is the long way around to a shiny, sparkly 'DUH!' there, GXT. You're still comparing MPG directly, your way.

I don't think the piece is misleading (I did not click the link)- but it is very interesting for comparison purposes; folk say their camry gets 40 MPG, but on the highways here in Jersey, following the flow- it only gets 30. That's a huge perceptive difference.

Most people would think it necessary to read an article to actually know if it is misleading.

As someone who did ready the article, my "DUH" calculations were because when the author of the article wrote "...America's most fuel efficient models are also the vehicles most affected by higher speeds." they didn't bother to follow up with, "The most fuel efficient models use the the least extra fuel as speed increases.". It does change the spin a little.

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