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Old 05-10-2008, 05:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What is possible from SUVs?

Hey all,

I wanted to get some feedback from the forum regarding what is possible in the way of MPG improvement in a mid-sized SUV such as a Hyundai Santa FE or Chevrolet Equinox?

My wife and I are in the market to replace my beloved but aging Suzuki with something that has more space for our new baby and her stuff in addition to incorporating more safety features (traction control, multiple airbags, etc.) and more space for my 6'7" 300# frame which I have shoehorned into said Suzuki every day for the last 7 years.

This will primarily be my vehichle for a 50 mile round-trip daily commute and for our occasional family trips of moderate distance. Since it is going to be primarily my vehicle, I am planning on Hypermiling the vehicle. Right now we are leaning towards the Santa FE or Equinox. Perhaps my wife would be able to be talked into a Scion xB...maybe.

I am just looking for some input as to what some of the rare others with SUVs have found in their efforts? We would be going with Fwd , not 4wd , and with an automatic transmission, and the smallest engine option as we don't need it for towing or anything of the sort.

Thoughts?

Brian

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Old 05-10-2008, 06:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think your best bet for hypermiling in an SUV would be the Escape hybrid. Highest I've seen anyone get in those was about 39mpg. But honestly, I'd talk her into the xB since it's cheaper and would allow for a few mods to be added.

If at all possible go test drive both and see what you're more comfortable with. I'm sure you can apply any hypermiling tips to both and beat the EPA. And test out a Prius to see if it has enough head/leg room for you. If it doesn't, next years model is supposed to be a bit bigger if you're willing to wait that long.
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You can definitely get more out of an SUV than it's rated for. How much really depends on the amount of low end torque it has, and how you are going to drive it.

XB would be nice, but it's more of a brick than a lot of SUV's, although less frontal area and smaller engine. Escape Hybrid would also be nice.

How about a subaru? I've seen some nice suby's with lots of room, and good FE. Also, The sante Fe would be nice.

Does anyone know if the Exquinox has the option of a cylinder shut-off engine? I Know the trailblazer has one, but it's a V8. It shuts off 4 cylinders while idleing and on the highway to save fuel.

Which brings up the question... what are you planning on driving the most? highway or city?
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Old 05-10-2008, 08:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well once I stabilize the vibe I'll have my eyes set on my 4-runner. Now funny thing is that in that small small frame and body lies a v8, which from the get go gets better gas mileage than its 6cyl counterpart because of power weight.

So for ****s and giggles and to start teaching the wife how to save gas we went driving all day in it with no changes other than resetting the trip odometer. Idling @ lights, a/c on all the time, fully loaded with baby crap, three occupants, a full tank of gas, roof rack, mudflaps, and low pressure tires.

A 122 mile day netted us 23.2 mpg with a 50/50 split city hwy. SO I am sure once I get my hands on that bad boy 30mpg is well within our reach. Which is perfect considering we need the suv for our daily lives.

Now the new xB has the 2.4L 4 cyl with vvt-i technology and actually weighs less than the tC and camry. Therefore you should see pretty good numbers out of it it you adjust the nut behind the wheel properly... Plus you gain all the safety, comfort and storage size you may need. Plus they make lowering kits for them and the factory hubcaps come pretty smooth already.

So bang for buck the xB may be the way to go as far as SUV ish vehicles ..
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Old 05-10-2008, 09:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Previous:
"Which brings up the question... what are you planning on driving the most? highway or city?"

My driving demands are probably 20%city/80%highway. But the 80% highway is rather hilly (climb from about 630 ft to 1050 ft and back down to 720 ft at work. But the route is rural and I can play with the rpms quite a lot with the lack of traffic.

From my own standpoint, I prefer the xB. The vast majority of the vehicle's use will be commuting on my part and the xB has the best combination of space for me and for the times that the whole family is with me, but also has the economy that we also need. I don't think that it is wise to purchase a vehicle if it is ideal for 5% of its intended utilization while it is less than ideal for the 80% of the time it is spent commuting. Heck, if we need the space of a midsized SUV for a trip, we can rent one.

The Ford Escape Hybrid is intriguing, but I don't think that that the economics make sense compared to the xB.

Brian
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Going with what I know.. a 2.3L Escape would be my suggestion. Our 3.0/auto gets 23mpg on the highway and the 4 cylinders are capable of getting 29+. In 2009 their coming out with a 6 speed tranny which ought to make mpg a little better.
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Old 05-11-2008, 12:21 AM   #7 (permalink)
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If it is economics you are concerned about, I would list all the cars you are willing to own in Excel and work out the economics by looking at purchase price, EPA mpg, predicted reliability, depreciation, and insurance rates. Determine the cost per mile and go from there.

Cars that score a higher EPA rating will almost certainly be easier to hypermile. Generally, it will be the lightest, most aerodynamic, and smallest capacity engine available.

I would assume ~$5/gallon of gas for the life of the automobile and 150,000 mile useful life.

Looking at previous years' models and the general trends of major manufacturers, you should be able to get a good grip on depreciation. I'd expect Hyundai's to depreciate faster than Toyotas, etc.

Try to pay in cash. If you can't, I would suggest buying a used car and putting the difference into a CD at a credit union or another healthy investment. Buying a new car with a loan is going to kill through interest and the fact that the loaning institution will want full insurance coverage.

If you have to go for a loan, get the shortest one you can afford. Interest rates are low now, so that is a plus, but the faster you pay off the car the less you spend on interest. Once you are done paying off you car, keep making car payments. If you keep making car payments by putting that cash into an investment, you'll be able to pay in full when it comes time to buy a new car. If you are smart, you'll never have to pay interest again.

Call you insurance companies and get a feeler for expected quotes. Raise your deductible to a few thousand and put enough money into a short-term investment to cover the possibility of an accident. Money will be tied up, but you'll make more in the long run.

Personally, I'd view hypermiling pretty low on the techniques of saving money. When you do get to the point of hypermiling, your best bet will be to slow down to just above torque converter lockup (~45mph), maintain momentum, and pump up LRR tires to max PSI. I'd expect a high of 30mpg and an average of 25mpg.

I don't mean to hand out financial advice, I'm just trying to save you the most money possible.

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Last edited by LostCause; 05-11-2008 at 12:30 AM..
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Old 05-11-2008, 03:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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As for an 'economical' gas guzzler I would wait until Detroit makes us some, because there's no such thing... 23mpg in an SUV is like me trying to decide between a Bmw 850 and a Ferrari Mondial yet being concerned enough about FE that I'm wondering which 12 cylinder does better...

But with gas just having hit $4 a gallon it is only a matter of time before Detroit does deliver both space and economy... Now it might be more stuff along the lines of underpowered cube minivans such as what we had in the 80's, but to get a car now to me is jumping the gun.

I think you'd save more money keeping what you have, at least for the time being.

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Old 05-11-2008, 10:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I still say try out all the cars first and see which you like the best.
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Old 05-12-2008, 11:06 PM   #10 (permalink)
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bharman10,
I'm not trying to be a wise-ass ... but simply don't get an SUV. Get a car.

When I was a toddler, Mom drove me and my lil' brother around in a VW Beetle and we lived to tell the tale. You'll have to believe me but she wasn't a crappy mother.

Get a mid-sized car (or wagon) with a 4-cylinder engine. Tranny choice is up to you and your wife but I'd pick a standard.

Trust me ... you'll be fine.

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