Monday, April 27, 2009
As Mr. Spock would say...
As you know, it's taken me a long time to find a car I love - and I definitely do not love this rental car. It's very low to the ground (hello? I can see over it without standing on my toes - that's low!), and rather... ahem, economical in its appearance inside and out. In fact, it's terribly generic. Silver. Four-door Sedan. Nothing distinguishes this car from any of the seemingly millions of other cars out there just like it.
I have to use the panic button on the remote to find the darn thing in a parking lot. Once I pressed the button and I was standing right next to it.
Yesterday, I was sitting at a stoplight just waiting for it to change, when I noticed that this car doesn't have cruise control. How very odd for a rental. I checked the wiper stalk and the steering wheel. Nada.
Well, not quite. There were two buttons on the steering wheel where the cruise buttons ought to be. One says "info" and the other has what looks like an ENTER button from a computer.
Curiosity got the better of me and I pushed the info button. The CHANGE OIL SOON message that's been in the odometer area since I picked up the car changed to air pressure readings in the front wheels (cool!). Another push got me back wheel pressure. Then came outside air temperature and mileage (I was wondering), coolant temperature, oil life (0%), miles left in the tank (272 - I'd filled up the day before), average mpg, and then mpg inst.
What the heck is mpg inst? The light turned green and I forgot about the readouts and headed home.
This morning, I started pushing buttons again and discovered that mpg inst is the instant miles per gallon - affected by whatever it is you are doing at the time. I am a "conservative driver" so I watched what all of my actions behind the wheel did to the mpg. Accelerating gently from a stop dropped me down to 3 or 4 mpg. Driving along at 35-40 miles per hour with little pressure on the accelerator had me at 29 (the average mpg, by the way). But I also found that coasting could get me up to 56 mpg and coasting downhill got me to 99mpg! I was amazed at how much a difference it made between fast and slow, coasting, braking or accelerating (I do not jackrabbit).
I also run the AC on low (it is allergy season!), but if I turned it up the mileage went down.
And I thought to myself how differently people would drive if they all had this information in their hands. This was a "standard" car - not a compact or economy model. Imagine what I could do with an even smaller, lighter car and a stick shift!
But the big oil companies can bank on lots of people driving like idiots so they don't have to worry about a dwindling demand for their product. Too many people get their jollies from flooring it at a stopsign, speeding through traffic and slamming on their brakes at the last minute. The kids around here think it makes them look cool.
But wouldn't it be cooler to have a fatter wallet than to leave skid marks on the pavement?