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An Alternative to Alternative Fuels and Vehicles 322

Posted by Zonk
from the when-you-have-to-use-gas dept.
markmcb writes "While the world is working to solve energy and environmental issues with today's petroleum fuels, some vehicles simply don't have good alternatives, namely off-road platforms. For those not willing to give up their gas-guzzling habits, Matt Vea offers an innovative alternative. Using the OBDII interface in his Jeep, a laptop, and the infinite power of Excel, Matt conducts some performance tests and uses the results to tweak both his vehicle's engine and his personal driving habits for optimal fuel consumption both on and off road." Rigorous testing and good use of available technology; nice work.
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An Alternative to Alternative Fuels and Vehicles

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  • by Pink Tinkletini (978889) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @07:42PM (#15729788) Homepage
    Move to the city [walkablestreets.com], man's natural habitat.
    • This is one of those fallacies that the city dwelling greenies would love to make everybody believe. Moving to the city doesn't reduce your energy consumption, it just shifts it. Sure, you may walk to the grocery store, but those groceries didn't grow in that store, they were shipped in. Your energy consuption is now being done by the supply chain that feeds the city, so the energy is being consumed by proxy on your behalf.

      In the grand scheme of things, you may believe that reducing a commute to work m

      • by cperciva (102828) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @08:27PM (#15729908) Homepage
        Sure, you may walk to the grocery store, but those groceries didn't grow in that store, they were shipped in.

        It is much cheaper -- and more fuel efficient -- to transport 2 tons of food in a single shipment than it is to transport 2 tons of food in a thousand 2kg shipments inside separate vehicles. Yes, the food you buy from the grocery store had to be shipped there, but economies of scale apply to the pre-grocery-store shipping.

      • Sounds like you've got your own agenda there. ;)

        Of course, it's best to buy local, but is there a comparison of the costs of eating shipped food (eg a city dweller who walks everywhere but must "import" their food) vs living in the country, driving everywhere, and eating more local food? (of course, country people still eat lots of non local food, unless you happen to be growing your own coffee &c). I'd also suspect a lot of country folk are buying whatever is cheapest at the local store, which may not
      • but then i'll be cold and hungry. where's the fun in that? i'd better blog this.
      • Sure, you may walk to the grocery store, but those groceries didn't grow in that store, they were shipped in. Your energy consuption is now being done by the supply chain that feeds the city, so the energy is being consumed by proxy on your behalf.

        Firstly, very few people actually live anywhere near food-growing land. Most people in industrialized countries live either in the suburbs, or in cities. Given those options, city life (including at least moderate use of public transportation and non-detatched hou
      • Actually this is only partially true. While the energy costs for living in the city are higher than living in the country without a car it's really hard to counterbalance the inefficiency of using a 3000 ~ 4000 lb vehicle to transport a 180 lb of cargo. Unfortunately that's exactly what the average person does when they jump in their car to run an errand. On the other hand a fully loaded semi trailer carries 80,000 lb of cargo. Even if the tractor and empty trailer weigh 80k lb then they are doing alot bett
      • but those groceries didn't grow in that store, they were shipped in

        I think you're misunderstanding some basic principles of capitalism and a market-based trade. In order to maximize profits, costs are cut to the bare minimum. The reason goods are shipped to the cities is because it's cheaper than doing everything locally (try growing corn in Alaska, for example). See, it's cheaper to have one massive shoe factory in Chicago that ships to all the other cities than it is to put a little shoe factory in each c

        • by Bob Uhl (30977) <[eadmund42] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:42AM (#15731740) Homepage
          However I do agree with your suggestions for energy conservation. That's why I keep the A/C at 81*F in the summer and the heat at 68*F in the winter, have compact fluorescents everywhere in my house, and drive a small diesel powered car.

          Ha! I don't even bother running my AC (Saturday was 100F here in Denver); in the winter I keep the heater at 56 most of the day (raising it to 64 in the morning, 'cause 56 is miserable when getting out of the shower); I drive a 15-year-old car which gets 35 mpg. Oh, and I normally cycle to work (in fact, I recently completed a month without driving to the office).

          I'm like the Green Avenger or something. Only thing is they won't let me into the local environmentalist meetings since I always vote a Republican/Libertarian mixed ticket:-(

      • by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012@pot a . to> on Monday July 17, 2006 @10:21AM (#15731168)
        It's really trendy here on /. to whine about SUV's in terms of energy consumption, but, the fuel burned by an SUV pales beside what a semi full of goods headed into the city burns.

        The average SUV [wikipedia.org] weighs 4242 lbs and gets 19 MPG. Larger ones like the Escalade are rated at 13 MPG in the city [chicagotribune.com]. The cargo for your average grocery store trip is, let's say, 100 lbs. A tractor-trailer rig is somewhere around 25,000 pounds empty, gets 5-6 MPG [whyfiles.org] when loaded, and carries up to 40,000 lbs cargo [geocities.com]. Let's assume that the average is half that. If I did the math right, moving groceries by semi is then 57 times more efficient.

        As a kicker, truckers use 13% of fuel [geocities.com] purchased in the US versus 63% for cars and other light vehicles. So you're right about the "pale" part, but it appears to be the other way around.

      • Sure, you may walk to the grocery store, but those groceries didn't grow in that store, they were shipped in.

        Economy of scale: it costs less energy to ship in bulk than seperately. Plus, cities have shorter distances, so they'd be perfect for use of electric vehicles. Unload goods from an electric train at the freight terminal. Use an electric "milk float" type truck that can plug in to a ubiquitous charging station whenever parked and has regenerative braking to deliver the goods to customers. How t

    • Sure, there may be more violent crime, more pollution, more stress, and a generally lower quality of life, but at least you can sleep at night knowing that you, personally, have contributed less to global climate change. That is, if you can ignore the gunshots and incessant car alarms and horns honking. ;)
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday July 16, 2006 @07:42PM (#15729790) Homepage
    Since such a large portion of SUV consumers are suburbians who go everywhere on well-paved roads and never use their vehicle's off-road capabilities, I think choosing a more economical car the next time around would be a better way to conserve fuel.
    • by johnlcallaway (165670) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @07:52PM (#15729821)
      Or....if one finds that only a low-milage SUV is needed for one's recreational pasttimes, maybe finding another recreation would work best.

      Nice piece though, I must commend the author for at least trying to provide a non-biased look at what impacts fuel economy.
      • by Jeff Molby (906283) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @08:11PM (#15729872)
        maybe finding another recreation would work best.
        Nah, you can't tell someone how to spend their free time and disposable income. It would be nice if we could convince some of them to do the math though. There's no way it makes sense to spend five extra digits (nevermind the mpg cost) on a vehicle just to haul a boat/atv/etc a handful of times per year. I'm sure you could rent something when you need it and save a few bucks. What they're really paying all that extra money for is the convenience of not having to call Hertz each month. With gas firmly at $3, I imagine that this pool of people is already shrinking. I'm sure it'll dry up pretty quickly when cruise by $4.
        • Rental contracts almost always specifically state that you may not take the vehicle off-road. While they are often willing to overlook things if you're on a dirt road that is maintained or at least well-used, if you do any damage to it, they may see it as damage while violating the contract, and hence insurance may not cover it.

          I've occasionally rented SUVs when going out to the desert for recreational purposes, but when I do, we're pretty well stuck in one spot. If you want to do something like follow th
          • No doubt. If you do a significant amount of off-roading, it probably makes sense to buy your own. I was following up on the assumption that most SUV owners don't take their vehicles off-road. Most simply use it for the occasional tow.
            • Well, if you only use its off-roading or tow capacity on rare occasions, then you probably don't need a high quality vehicle. Get a beater. (I'm using Chevy as an example, but this applies for any brand.) Instead of a $45,000 2006 Chevy Suburban, get a $20,000 2006 Chevy Impala and a $2,000 1985 Suburban. The old Suburban won't be as nice as a brand new model, but there are $23,000 reasons to prefer it. Just use it when you need it.
            • by Undertaker43017 (586306) on Monday July 17, 2006 @08:46AM (#15730624)
              Try finding a rental company that have SUV's or trucks with hitches, none of them do. I unfortunately had to try and find one, when my transmission went. U-Haul is one of the few, if you have a class I-III type trailer, if you have a fifth wheel, forget it, their pickups are all 1/2 tons and no fifth wheel.

              Rental companies aren't interesting in helping out recreational types, they put too much wear on a vehicle to be worth it for them.
      • by kullnd (760403)
        How can you say that someone should find better recreation just because YOU don't feel that it's worth the cost? I really wish that it was not necessary to use up so much of our limited resources to do what I enjoy, but I'm not about to give up all of my hobbies just because they are not good for the oil crisis.

        Myself, I take part in many of these fuel consuming activities. My favorite activity is skydiving, talk about waisting fossil fuels for fun, we burn gallons of jet fuel per person everytime we go up
        • Chill out dude...If you can pull out of your little flame there, and re-read, I said 'perhaps finding a different recreation would work best'. I never said 'no one should use SUVs to take a little kayak to some isolated stream somewhere'. I thought if someone is concerned enough about the environment to expend all of the effort the author did, maybe searching for a way to reduce their consumption to 0 would be another consideration.

          Have you ever considered a very large ACME slingshot yourself??
    • by fm6 (162816) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @08:11PM (#15729868) Homepage Journal
      Said suburbians buy SUVs as steel security blankets — being in a big vehicle that's high off the ground gives them a sense of safety. That's an illusion [cbsnews.com], of course, but American carmakers have always relied on illusions to sell their products.
      • I aleays thought they bought those cars so that there would be no survivors when they hit the smaller cars. It cheaper to pay off a dead guy then to pay for a lifetime of medical care and juries tend to give higher awards to injured people. Nobody is going to wheel a dead guy into the court to elicit sympathy but an injured child is a sure bet.

        Those SUV are great for making sure the other car gets completely destroyed and the occupants killed.
        • Sound legal logic (when you hit somebody with your car, always remember to back up and finish them off!) but not the way most people think. Thank God for small favors!
        • Those SUV are great for making sure the other car gets completely destroyed and the occupants killed.

          So, those people who choose air travel expect to cash in on their life insurance plans (as opposed to their medical insurance) in the event of mechanical failure?

          And those people who drive cars instead of motorcycles expect to destroy and kill the drivers of those motorcycles they hit?

          How'd you get insightful from a troll/flamebait?

          • So, those people who choose air travel expect to cash in on their life insurance plans (as opposed to their medical insurance) in the event of mechanical failure?

            Whoa, that's a far stretch. What cloud are you on, and what are you smoking ?

            And those people who drive cars instead of motorcycles expect to destroy and kill the drivers of those motorcycles they hit?

            Ok, that's better. And the answer is: No. Because you can hit a motorcycle with pretty much anything (other motorcycle, small car, large ca

  • Petroleum!
  • by lixee (863589) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @07:50PM (#15729814)
    While the experiment in itself deserves a hat off, what he concluded isn't really a surprise.
    Changing driving habits introduce a profound effect on fuel savings for any vehicle. In brief, the following tips collectively save gas in the long run.

    * slower acceleration
    * reduced top speed
    * proper tire inflation
    * using cruise control
    * proper vehicle lubrication
    * correct transmission gears
    * using air conditioning only when necessary
    * reducing aerodynamic drag
    * removing excess weight
    Duh!
    • A lot of people would do well to learn these basics. I have a Camaro that, when I drive in the city, I tend to keep below 2000 RPM. It moves along in normal traffic just fine, and my mileage doesn't suffer too terribly much. The occasional teen in an overdone Civic does get put in his place, but generally speaking, I'm fairly easy on the gas. This changes when getting on the freeway, as I tend to open up during acceleration, but since most of my freeway runs are fairly lengthy and run using cruise contr
      • I've always felt that gearing (and the required engine torque) has been overlooked in increasing efficiency. My wife's new Accord only runs at 2300 RPM at 70 miles an hour, which is the lowest I've ever seen for a 4 cylinder engine in a mid-size car.

        I also have a friend with 99 vette. He can put the cruise on 70 mph and, as long as it's in 6th gear, the tac runs around 2k and gets 36 mpg! This is almost totally due to the very high gearing and unbelievable amount of torque the engine can produce.
        I am to
    • This dude http://sitemaker.umich.edu/mhross [umich.edu] has a report titled "Fuel efficiency and the Physics of Automobiles." You have to wade through a lot of formulas and SI units for otherwise familiar quantities, but I have put those formulas into an Excel sheet, and they are amazingly predictive of steady-state highway gas mileage.

      The fundamental assumption is that just about all gas-engined cars run the same thermodynamic cycle and about the same compression ratio these days, so the non-ideal Otto cycle runs a

    • * reduced top speed

      Ok, so I have a question. If I reduce my top speed, then it will take me longer to arrive at my destination. Right? So I'm burning fuel for a longer period of time, thus I may be burning more fuel than I save by traveling slower. I.e. I think it's more efficient to travel 60 miles in 60 minutes than it is to travel 60 miles in 80 minutes, as the extra 20 minues of fuel burn time will eat up any savings made by reducing RPM and wind resistance.

      What nobody ever seems to talk about is the cr

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @07:52PM (#15729820)
    Look.. back in the early 80's my uncle, a doctor, used to keep an SUV for cases when emergencies demanded he trundle off through snow bound michigan streets to see critical patients, but in today's age more than half the vehicles on the road come with all wheel drive and traction control, and luxury sedans now have the option of adjustable suspensions to increase ground clearance. He has one of these now and it serves him better.

    Further, fewer than 1% of SUV owners actually take their cars offroad. Most people now buy these things for their own vanity and nothing else.

    Meanwhile, while they guzzle fuel at 3mpg, they drive the price of this increasingly limited and taxed resource to the point where there are news reports of the working poor having to pawn off household objects merely to make it into work.

    At this point this activity is approaching immorality. I know of few other activities (besides lobbying) which actively make other people poorer for no reason.
    • Meanwhile, while they guzzle fuel at 3mpg

      Say what? Maybe if they've got a 1400hp 600ci V8 in them. Granted it's still not great but many of the new mid and large SUV's are now getting 20mpg or better now. Yes it's not great, but it's a far cry from your over-exaggerated 3mpg crap.
      • Rather than give a small bonus to people who buy SUVs, I'd like to see a massive penalty charged to people who don't.

        Are hybrids the answer? Not to the final exam, but they are for the mid-term. The answer to the final exam will need to be electric vehicles with locally generated wind/solar electricity.

        Leave oil to the 18 wheelers that keep the country moving, that would drop the price to the point that the small operators can still move equipment around the country while a better way to make a fully elec
    • I know you're morally superior to everyone else because of your vehicle choice. But...

      Further, fewer than 1% of SUV owners actually take their cars offroad.

      How many drive them on snowy roads? Everyone who owns one and lives where it snows, I bet.
      How many people need to tow something? Not a huge percentage, but they won't be doing it in a honda civic.
      How many people have a couple of kids and have to fit a car seat? A lot. Sure they could drive a minivan, but the mileage isn't too much different in a lot
      • How many drive them on snowy roads? Everyone who owns one and lives where it snows, I bet.
        How many people need to tow something? Not a huge percentage, but they won't be doing it in a honda civic.
        How many people have a couple of kids and have to fit a car seat? A lot. Sure they could drive a minivan, but the mileage isn't too much different in a lot of cases.


        did you read my post at all?
        all wheel drive and adjustable suspensions handle snow, when we moved from detroit to atlanta we towed trailers beind *surp
      • Meanwhile, while they guzzle fuel at 3mpg

        Which new SUV gets 3 mpg?

        For that matter, what old SUV gets that? My dad has a 1990 Sierra 3500 Dually with the camper, trailer, and off-road packages, and it's admittedly a fuel hog, but even it gets about 10 MPG, and when he had an over-cab camper on it, it still got about eight.
      • by More Trouble (211162) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @09:27PM (#15730121)
        How many drive them on snowy roads? Everyone who owns one and lives where it snows, I bet.

        I always get a charge when it snows here, and the SUV drivers in the no-season tires think that all you need is the latest Ford behemoth. I drive a '92 Mazda Miata. Yes, a tiny little roadster, but with snow tires. Until the snow is higher than the undercarriage, a Miata with good snow tires can't be stopped. Driving past SUVs in the snow is a blast, but I do feel bad when I see them flipped over.

        :w
        • I always get a charge when it snows here, and the SUV drivers in the no-season tires think that all you need is the latest Ford behemoth. I drive a '92 Mazda Miata. Yes, a tiny little roadster, but with snow tires.

          I drove an older Beretta as well as an older Grand Am in the winter, both front wheel drive, both with snow tires. I lived 20 miles out of town, at the end of a 2 mile dirt road that was the last one plowed, and I had no problem in the Minnesota winters.

          Lightweight FWD cars can go through an

        • Until the snow is higher than the undercarriage, a Miata with good snow tires can't be stopped.


          A car that you can't stop in the snow is a bad thing ;)
      • How many people have a couple of kids and have to fit a car seat? A lot. Sure they could drive a minivan, but the mileage isn't too much different in a lot of cases.

        Why would you need a SUV or a minivan just to fit a couple of kids in the car?

        The vast majority of cars can easily transport five people.
      • How many drive them on snowy roads? Everyone who owns one and lives where it snows, I bet.

        Brilliant! And everyone who owns a 2WD and lives where it snows use them in the snow.

        I learned to drive in a primitive, pre-energy crisis, rear wheel drive behemoth with bench seats, nearly 300 HP under the hood and ball joins that had seen better days. And I have owned a number of different cars of different designs and driven many more over the course of the years, all of them including driving in the snow. The o
        • Did your senator vote to help those people get cheaper gas by allowing oil drilling in ANWR?

          Why should he... ?


          Cheaper gasoline.

          My reasoning is simple: if you do the same thing you did before, but more efficiently, it has to be good.

          I agree. As long as "more efficiently" takes time, money, happiness, and everything else into account. For example, spending $1000 to save $100 worth of energy isn't "more efficient". It's also not more efficient to spend $100 to save $100 worth of energy if it also makes you
    • It's kind of unfair to say (hyperbolically, even) that these cars get 3mpg. Due to a lot of innovation in engines, the efficiency of some of these SUVs is comparable to older, much smaller cars. A couple years ago, my brother decided to buy a Toyota Harrier (sorry, I can't remember the US name for that--Lexus letters-and-numbers--it's the Lexus SUV with the clear taillights). I gave him the standard liberal anti-SUV lecture. He pulled the mpg stats on the Harrier and on my older Camry and emailed them to
    • At this point this activity is approaching immorality. I know of few other activities (besides lobbying) which actively make other people poorer for no reason.

      Great, so let's try to legislate *your* opinion of what's morally right / wrong, huh? 'Cuz that's worked so well before (gay marriage ban, prohibition / drug war, abortion debate, etc.).

      If someone comes up with a solution that doesn't involve taxing the living shit out of everyone or passing assanine laws which don't do anything but boost politic

    • I am no fan of SUV's myself, but credit where credit is due: many GM and Ford SUVs and trucks offer flex fuel (E85 compatibility). If you need a bigger vehicle, and are located near the "corn belt" I suggest you take a look [e85fuel.com].
    • SUV's are overrated for off-road anyway. Sure, 4-wheel drive helps, but it's a lot more complex than that. Even though they're built on truck frames (for the most part), they have messed with the suspensions so they don't really handle like trucks, nor are they capable of doing what heavy duty trucks are capable of. If Billy the construction worker needs a truck to carry all his tools around and such, it makes sense to have an F-350 or something along those lines. For soccer moms that do nothing but go
    • I hate 4WD (SUVs) as much as the next person who doesn't own them. Sure they use up a lot of resources, but more directly because a lot of people can't drive them properly, and because they are safe, don't even see the need to learn. OK, so I am extra careful when I see them. I wish they weren't there, but there you go. Complaining about some poor people who can't afford to drive to work is just silly. These people should be able to find another way to work, without driving, or get a closer to home job. Thi
    • I know of few other activities (besides lobbying) which actively make other people poorer for no reason.

      One word my friend: lotteries

      -Eric

  • Why is this on slashdot exactly? This guy just tuned his car and followed some tips we've known about improving gas mileage for years. This isn't a new alternative to alternative fuels and vehicles, this is stuff car guys have been doing ever since the first ECUs were put into cars (and before that they'd have to change a mechanical system to tune the car.) Normally it's to improve performance but it can be used to improve gas mileage also.
  • by 7of7 (956694) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @08:02PM (#15729845) Journal
    As far as I can tell any means of electric vehicle would be an absolutely kickass offroad vehicle. The extreme torque and smootheness of electric motors are ideal for rock crawlers and other similar 4wd vehicles. It doesn't really matter where you get the electricity from. Heck, imagine one truck carries a giant fuel cell and tows the rock crawlers to the hills while powering them up too. Hybrid would be cool too, but you'd still have the gas/diesel engine to deal with.
    • We know. I'm an offroader and an electrical engine would be great. Unfortunately they don't hold enough charge and aren't reliable enough. Try dumping one in water a few times and see what happens. :) But yeah, the torque would be perfect.
  • by fermion (181285) * on Sunday July 16, 2006 @08:24PM (#15729902) Homepage Journal
    This is a good and interesting analysis, and really demonstrates the physics that most people do not understand. For example, not everything can be blamed on the vehicle. The vehicle is what it is, and the vehicle by itself is not necessarily good or bad. Rather, it is the application of the vehicle that is good or bad. Now the american manufacturers have a good bit of bad on their side as they built many vehicles that do not perform well at high speeds or in the city, but the owners have to take some responsibility and not just whine all the time about how high gas is.

    For instance, when driving one has to impart some amount of KE into the car. KE is mv^2. What this means is that a car going 85mph has twice twice the KE as a car going 60mph . Now, if a car is light, like a roadster at 2200 lbs, one could go 85 and not gain any more than a Pilot going 60. And yet every day I see these huge cars going 90 mph, while I am going 70, and all these people complaining about gas consumption? It makes no sense. If they were truly concerned, they would go slower than me!

    I really applaud this guy. He really tried to maximize a solution using reasonable constraints. If everyone did the same, instead of whining that they are being crunched by the price of gas, we would be in a much better place.

    His recommendations are good. Accelerate slowly, especially if you have a massive car. Any physics or engineering person knows how much this helps in energy expenditure. Keep tires inflated well, and if you car came with improper tires, buy new one. You SUV is not a car, and should not drive like one. Don't drive fast, especially if you make frequent stops. The energy profile will be against you. This is why hybrids are do good for the city. Do not drive fast period. Not only does it waste gas, but if imperils all other drivers.

    The day that I see most SUVs in the right two lanes, going 5-10 miles under the speed limit, is the day I believe that gas prices are too high. Right now gas prices are just inconvenient.

    • by e2d2 (115622) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @09:10PM (#15730057)
      Yes but also don't forget the variable PAS or people are stupid.

      On a side rant, everyone bitches about the SUVs, like somehow the SUV has caused gas prices to rise dramatically, while ignoring the obvious growing population, ignoring social aspects of the middle east and south america, and ignoring the cartels that control said oil and the companies unwilling to allow prices to drop. And it's always the guy in the humvee the guy in the humvee! Where the F is this guy? I hear about him all the time but I never actually see him! Apparently he is the one causing all of the problems. It's not those GOOD PEOPLE(tm) in their more eco-conscious cars burning the same gas. It's those other people, yeah that's it!

      Want to cut gas consumption in half? Start by clearing up the traffic people sit in every day. There, billions saved. It's a start.

      • Want to cut gas consumption in half? Start by clearing up the traffic people sit in every day. There, billions saved. It's a start.

        Want to cut gas consumption in half? Put two people in your car instead of one. That will clear up traffic queues, which as above, will probably cut gas consumption in half again...

        And yes, many readers already do this, good stuff. But next time you're stuck in traffic, look at all the cars around you, and imagine if all the cars with one person were carrying two instead, and th

      • "Want to cut gas consumption in half?....Start by clearing up the traffic people sit in every day"

        Invest in some decent public transport, think long term. It won't work for everywhere but will cut a lot of those urban/suburban traffic jams. Check out how busy the car parks are in European 'park and ride' edge of town parking locations are, that offer out of town drivers the opportunity to park and then get cheap shared transport (buses, metros, trams) into the city centre 5 miles away. They are all doing t

    • The mass is the obvious point - you don't need some massive truck as a personal 4WD, I used to have a little Suzuki 4WD that was good on steep dirt roads and on sand. The point about driving it like a truck is well made - if it is geared like a truck you are better off driving it that way (engine braking etc) even if it is smaller than some cars. Another example is that Land Rovers bodies are made of aluminium so they are lighter than they look.

      Then again I'm paying $3.70 US dollars per gallon for fuel a

    • Let's say you drive 15,000 miles in a year. If your average speed is 55 mph, that's 272 hours in a car. If your average speed is 75 mph, that's 200 hours in a car.

      Like it or not, most people would gladly pay an extra 30% in annual fuel costs in return for an extra 72 hours of free time.
  • Excellent article... (Score:2, Informative)

    by MeatFlap3 (741121)
    The recommendations have direct bearing on some of the newer fly-by-wire cars. I have a 2003 Nissan Spec-V and it is all FBW. By experimentation I have found that keeping the RPM's between 2000 and 2500, depending on the gear and speed, I can get up to 33 MPG on the highway... and yes, the ECU does learn your driving habits. Now, if we could just disconnect the black box lie-detector...
  • portion of the population that has a real need for an SUV. But of course they buy a real SUV, one that can handle off road. Ever notice how most SUVs handle like a shopping cart on basically all terrain.
  • an alternative (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Goldsmith (561202) on Monday July 17, 2006 @11:12AM (#15731511)
    you're kidding, right?

    An alternative to off road vehicles? How about a horse?

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