It's the Environment, Stupid.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

SUVs aren't the only gas guzzlers

Yahoo's homepage this morning featured a picture of a SmartCar accompanied by, "Brain vs. brawn. How will Europe's tiny Smart car compete with the SUVs packing U.S. highways?"

Curious, I clicked. The story, "Smart in the City" was about taking the Smart Car for a test drive in Manhattan to see if it would work as a commuter car. I suppose if you've never experienced a Smart Car in person, it gives a little bit of insight as to the tiny car's features. But other than that, I didn't find the driving through a construction zone on 37th street as being all that applicable/comparable to the driving experiences of suburban SUV drivers nationwide.

What I did find interesting though was another article featured in this "Brain vs. brawn" theme of the morning - a Consumer Reports guide to fuel efficient vehicles. It broke down vehicles by type (family sedan, small SUV, sporty cars etc.), and ranked them according to their fuel economy - city, highway and overall mpg.

Scrolling down it wasn't suprising to see that the highest ranked midsized & large SUV, the Honda Pilot EX, had an overall mpg of 19, city mpg of 13, and highway mpg of 27. What was surprising was that the non-SUVs had comparable numbers. Like the highest ranked minivan, the Chevrolet Venture LS, had an overall mpg of 19, city mpg of 12, and highway mpg of 27. The highest ranked compact pickup, Toyota Tacoma TRD, was even worse with overall mpg of 16, city mpg of 12, and highway mpg of 22.

The highest ranked small SUV (Toyota Matrix SR AWD) and wagons/hatchbacks (Pontiac Vibe FWD) were comparable: overall 24, city 17, hwy 33 for the Toyota; and 26 overall, 18 city, 36 hwy for the Pontiac. And nearly all of the sedan categories: family, luxury, upscale, and large (with the exception of the small sedan) were similar, averaging with an overall mpg of 22.

The winners were the small sedans, the top three in that category were the Honday Insight (overall 51, city 36, hwy 66), the Volkswagon Golf GLS TDI (overall 41, city 29, hwy 54), and the Toyota Prius (overall 41, city 30, hwy 49).

So the next time you want to criticize all those gas guzzling SUVs, be sure to expand your finger pointing to include nearly everything else on the road in your fuel inefficient tirade.

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