The 2012 mileage report
The arrival of a new year here at Hartnett headquarters can mean only one thing: Obsessive detailing of my 2001 1.8T manual transmission Volkswagen Jetta’s mileage performance.
This is a very important event for the world and its people and fish. Indeed, many have said, and untold millions silently agree, that the new year has not truly begun until the publication of this very report.
Imagine, then, the look on my face as I imagine the look on your face immediately after you have read the following, most startling development in the history of annual mileage reporting here at Poor Hartnett’s Almanack of Annual Mileage Reporting, Bird Migration Forecasts, Liniment Formulae & Homeric Fan Fiction: I sold my 2001 1.8T manual transmission Volkswagen Jetta in September.
My wife and I also bid farewell to her 2000 Acura Integra in 2012. We did not literally bid it farewell, unfortunately, on account of not actually being present in July as the local artisanal Honda/Acura thieves made off with it. I should note at this point that detailed mileage records do exist for the Integra, but to date remain unpublished. On the other hand, if one were to catch me in an accommodating mood and ply me with the usual array of drink, cheese and tales of frog adventure, I might be inclined to let slip a tale or two of the Integra’s feats of mileage achievement.
Replacing both the Volkswagen and Acura as the object of my obsessive mileage tracking is a single car, a 2013 Kia Rio 5-door with a 1.6-liter engine connected to a six-speed automatic transmission.
It is white.
At the time I bought it, the Rio had an EPA-estimated (but apparently not EPA-tested) fuel economy rating of 30 miles per gallon in city driving and 40 MPG highway, for a combined 33 MPG. Of course, as a careful observer of the automotive fuel economy scene, I knew that was nonsense. Here’s a good Car and Drive story about how the EPA’s ratings mileage ratings are calculated.
Indeed, in November Kia and Hyundai admitted that my car’s 30/40 MPG rating was sort of made up, issued a revised 28/36 MPG rating, and promised to reimburse buyers for the difference. Why, just yesterday, I got in the mail a Visa prepaid card from Kia worth $33.98. Apparently, they’ll keep coming as long as I own the car.
Below is a graph of my daily miles per gallon from mid-2001 to the end of 2012. The red bits in this graph and the others below is the Kia, which I bought in August. Click the image or mash your finger or whatever right here for the full-size version. As you can see, nearly 100 percent of the miles I put on both the Volkswagen and the Kia since I moved to Atlanta in April 2011 have been from city driving, and I mean the real-world, fuel economy-killing kind.
Overstated mileage ratings aside, I’m pleased with the Kia and find that it’s meeting my more realistic fuel economy expectations. One of its best features in that regard, and one that should be mandatory on all vehicles, is a fuel economy computer that estimates MPG in real time. Seeing the real-time effects of minor gas-saving practices such as coasting down hills instantly changes one’s driving habits for the better.
That said, the fuel computer’s figures are only estimates, and, as you might expect, optimistic estimates. Per tank, the Kia’s computer has overestimated mileage by a minimum of 5.4 percent and a maximum of 10.1 percent. The average overestimate across the 19 tanks of gas I’ve used in the Kia so far was 7.7 percent, with a median of 7.6 percent. Quite literally, your mileage may vary.
Now have a look at how much I drove. I put 3,746.5 miles on the Volkswagen in 2012, and together my wife and I drove 4,645.7 miles in the Kia. That works out to 14.4 miles per day in the Volkswagen and 31.4 miles per day in the Kia, though the latter includes two separate single-day 250-mile drives. Also, remember that my wife and I share the Kia.
I burned 162.37 gallons of gas in the Volkswagen in 2012, and 165.941 gallons in the Kia.
Overall MPG in the Volkswagen in 2012 was just 23.074, while in the Kia it was 27.996. My best individual tank in the Kia was 42.095 MPG, roughly 95 percent of which was on the highway. The car’s computer estimated 46 MPG on that tank, by the way, off by 9.3 percent.
MILES PER GALLON:
An average of 19 days passed between fill-ups in the Volkswagen in 2012, and the Kia averaged 8 days between refills. Note that the Volkswagen had a 14.5-gallon tank, while the Kia’s holds just 11.4 gallons. The longest I went between fill-ups in the Volkswagen was 42 days, compared to just 12 in the Kia.
AVERAGE DAYS BETWEEN FILL-UPS:
I spent a total of $1,144.92 on fuel in 2012: $578.82 in the Volkswagen, and $566.10 in the Kia. That works out to $2.22 per day in the Volkswagen and $3.83 per day in the Kia.
TOTAL FUEL SPENDING:
I paid an average of $3.57 per gallon in the Volkswagen in 2012, and $3.41 in the Kia. The most expensive gas was $3.999 per gallon in the Volkswagen on Jan. 29, and the cheapest was $2.999 in the Kia on Nov. 28.
AVERAGE PRICE PER GALLON:
I owned the Volkswagen for 4,141 days and drove it 99,593.1 miles, a lifetime average of 24.05 miles per day. I used 3,651.049 gallons of gas in that mofo, and its lifetime fuel economy performance was 27.278 MPG. Its original EPA rating was 22 MPG city and 28 MPG highway, for 24 MPG combined. Not bad.
Don’t forget to send me some money.