These days there is a lot of talk about fuel efficiency in cars, and with good reason. Gas is expensive! It’s one of the major long-term costs associated with driving, and the more you drive the more you pay.
Given the state of the environment and the effect that cars have on it, there’s plenty of cause for concern. The EPA estimates that motor vehicles collectively cause 75% of carbon monoxide pollution in the US, as well as 27% of greenhouse gas emissions and one-third of air pollution that produces smog.
Then, of course, there’s the huge ecological damage caused by mining for petroleum.
More efficient cars mean less need for crude oil and less pollution in the air per miles driven. Just by driving a more efficient vehicle, you are helping to reduce environmental damage!
In this article, let’s explore how you can save the most gas while going about your life as usual.
Driving habits: our choices influence our mileage
It’s not just what we drive but how we drive. Are your driving habits making the best use of your car’s fuel, or are you burning gas unnecessarily?
1. Avoid city driving:
City driving demands more fuel than cruising down the highway, so much so that auto manufacturers will typically provide two separate standards of gas mileage for city or highway.
Why? It’s simple physics.
When you’re on the highway, you push up to a high speed and then more or less stay there, cruising on your car’s momentum as well as its engine power. The strenuous part of driving, from the engine’s perspective, is getting that enormous object from a standstill into motion – which is exactly what you do constantly when driving in a city.
To avoid all that starting and stopping, park your car on the outskirts and take public transport. As a bonus, parking will be much cheaper than in the urban center.
2. Quit idling:
Idling is one of the easiest ways to waste fuel and stress out your engine for no good reason. Let’s make 2019 the year we all finally drop this bad habit!
For every two minutes of idling, it uses about the same amount of fuel that it would take to drive one mile. Not only are you instead getting 0 miles per gallon, that fuel isn’t fully combusted, meaning that fuel residue builds up on the cylinder walls and can damage your sparkplugs and exhaust system.
It causes much less stress to the engine to just turn it off and start it again when you’re ready to go.
Finally, consider that you (and everyone around you) are breathing that cloud of exhaust around your idling car. Sparkplugs can be replaced but your lungs, not so much.
3. Stay chill behind the wheel:
Aggressive driving isn’t just dangerous, it’s more wasteful.
High speeds and sudden accelerations make your car burn more fuel. Driving moderately and with gradual changes in speed will keep it working at peak efficiency.
4. But keep your car warm:
Cold temperatures reduce your fuel efficiency, especially if you’re making several short trips with stops in between. It can be a significant difference: about 12% lower for the average car at 20 degrees F vs. the high 70’s.
While you might not be ready to relocate for the winter, parking in a garage can help take the edge off the chill.
That said, don’t let your car sit idle to “warm up” before driving! Modern engines don’t need this and, as I covered before, idling is a bad idea for several reasons. Just 30 seconds is plenty of time; it will heat up just fine while you drive.
The most fuel-efficient cars for 2019
If you’re in the market for a new car and you’re concerned about gas efficiency, you’re in luck. Thanks to new technological developments, today’s vehicles are more efficient than ever. These are some top-scoring cars, giving you the most bang for your buck on your summer road trip or wherever you’re going in 2019.
- 2019 Toyota Prius (43 miles per gallon city/59 highway)
- 2019 Hyundai Ioniq (42 city/60 highway)
- 2019 Honda Accord (40 city/52 highway)
- 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid (32 city/52 highway)
- 2019 Kia Niro (32 city/53 highway)
SUV lovers, don’t despair! Bigger, more athletic vehicles will always burn more gas than small light cars, but relatively speaking, today’s SUV’s have also made great strides in fuel efficiency. Check out these gas-sipping forerunners:
- 2019 Mazda CX-3 (29 city/34 highway)
- 2019 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (41 city/38 highway)
- 2019 Nissan Rogue (33 city/35 highway)
- 2019 Nissan Kicks (31 city/36 highway)
Electric vehicles: running just fine on empty
Of course, the ultimate in fuel efficiency is not using fuel at all!
Electric cars and SUVs, once more of a novelty, are rapidly becoming widespread and pose as an attractive alternative to conventional gas vehicles. They’re faster, more powerful and longer lasting than just a few years ago – and more affordable, to boot. In another few years, they might be the new normal.
Visitors to the recent NYC auto show got a glimpse of more than 40 hybrid or electric vehicles, including the award-winning Jaguar I-PACE. This World Car of the Year, typical for contemporary EV’s, doesn’t sacrifice performance for cleanliness: it boasts 394hp and can sprint from 0-60mph in just 4.5 seconds.
With today’s electric vehicles, you can expect to cover several hundred miles before needing to recharge the battery. The top-runner in this category is currently the Tesla Model S Long Range, whose massive 100-kWh battery pack lasts for 335 miles.
A few top electric vehicles for 2019:
- Hyundai Kona Electric ($37,495)
- Nissan Leaf ($30,885)
- Hyundai Ioniq Electric ($31,235)
- Jaguar I-PACE ($69,500)
- Tesla Model S ($86,200)
- Tesla Model X ($90,700)
Going green in your car takes a combination of good driving habits and choosing an efficient car. It’s in your power to make choices that are better for the environment and for your wallet at the same time: not a bad deal!