Fuel-Efficient Vehicles; Green and Mean


Not taking offense at all. Just offering that it’s easy to make assumptions. As the driver of a big growling truck I get it all the time. Funny, a few years back some friends and I did a trip on the North end of Van. Is. My truck and two newer Subaru’s. The road was so terrible we had to load everything into the Truck, and all the boats onto the trucks burly rack. My friend told me he “got it now, and had truck envy”.

That old rig has hauled so many cars and SUV’s out of ditches and snow banks, and saved my life when a drunk ski patroller hit me head on in his Toyota 4x4 on Ski Hill road, Wy. Toyota totalled…big Dodge fixed. Had I been in my wifes Subaru I would be dead. Rear ended in old 86 Subaru some years back. Compound fracture to left arm, car totally destroyed. Big truck rear ended many times in Seattle, Everett traffic. Spilled coffee, go out pull idiots grill off the receiver hitch, drive on… I’ll keep my big truck thanks.

It’s fair to fear the big guys for sure…but hey in over a million miles of windshield time I’ve hit no one, but been hit three times.

Like kayaks, it’s all about matching the tool to your needs. Buying a big SUV when you don’t need it is like paddling a double around solo.

better yet
buy and drive a USED Motorcycle!! makes all those econ egg cars seem like SLUGS, and best of all they are FUN!!! That way you can save your beans for filling the TRUCK that hauls your yacks and family around…

so you must have the cummins? Do you have the greasecar kit? how hard was the installation?

big is not always bad
i completely agree with you some people do need large trucks, suv’s, etc. hell, with 2 kids and all their stuffs, i have a minivan myself (which is just as fuel inefficient as most suv’s) but i was just trying to point out the reluctance of some people to drive small cars. if it came out as a slam or i failed to clarify, then my apologies. but how much of your reaction is from a hair-trigger from all your perceived past experience with “granolas”? just as they oversimplify all big vehicle owners, could you be over sensitive to any thing to do with big vehicles?

however, be honest, what’s the percentage of people who NEED a large suv compare to those who actually drive it?

Big Trucks
Salty raises some excellent points.

Clearly, if a guy needs to haul a lot of stuff frequently, he needs a truck or other larger vehicle. Your water heater goes down, you probably don’t want a plumber that shows up in a Civic hatchback, with your new heater strapped to the roof and his tools in a shopping bag.

But take a look around at all the oversized trucks and casually peek into their beds; 90% are empty. Heck, half of my fellow office-dweebs drive shiny monster pickups that seldom haul more than groceries. Maybe the semi-annual refrigerator.

By contrast, I suspect if I followed someone like Salty around, I’d often see him hauling stuff. The fact that his truck is running on veggie oil only improves what seems like an already smart use of a larger vehicle.

A few weeks ago when we rented a wood splitter to take apart a big hickory, we borrowed a friend’s pickup and we bought him dinner. And on Saturday I’ll rent a pickup from the lumber yard where I’m buying my drywall, or I’ll check into having it delivered for a few bucks more. I suppose a lot of people might use those to justify buying a big red muscle truck, but on Monday I’ll be back to driving my fuel-sippin’ Toyota. I move to a new house every decade or so, but you don’t see me driving a U-Haul every day …

As for Salty’s question regarding a second, smaller car, it seems to me the answer is yes. Sure, you’re consuming more initial resources to produce two vehicles instead of one, and that’s not an insignificant factor. But each should last about twice as long as it normally would have, as you’ll only be using it for its intended purpose, so that capital investment is amortized over twice as much time, thereby balancing it out. There are also such matters as insurance, parking, time-related maintenance, and other duplications whose cost must be weighed against the fuel savings, but that is a question of economics, not ecology.

Two vehicles can be cheaper than one
Last year my husband and I had the same question when it came time to get rid of our old Saturn. It was an older car that we bought for my daughter to learn to drive on. She since got herself a Subaru, and the Saturn (35 mpg) was just sitting there, so Jeff started using it for work instead of his 4Runner (20 mpg). When all the numbers were crunched, it SAVED us money to keep the Saturn, with the savings in insurance and gas. With the Saturn as his work car and the 4Runner insured as occasional use, the dollar difference was considerable.

Great post!
There usually is somethin’ else just beneath the surface, eh!


Heavily modified
Greasecar kit. Knowing what I now know I’d go elsewhere for a kit for the Cummins. Took a bit of re-engineering, and GC is not really up on the big truck engines the way they are with TDI’s Benz etc. Their solenoids seem to work well, but I’ve changed most everything else. Truck loves veggie! I want to get it sniffed as it shure seams to run clean…no soot in tailpipe etc.

Cummins is a superb engine…still like new with no blow by, oil use etc…

Diesels are great
However, my TDI wagon became a total nightmare at 75K miles after the dealer botched a recall repair on the engine, and VW wouldn’t stand behind the quality of their work, or even entertain the thought that they damaged anything. Shame, because I wanted to get 250K or so out of the car. 50 MPG highway and the ability to carry as much stuff as a small pickup or SUV was perfection to me.

So, I’m buying a Honda Fit to replace the TDI until Honda is allowed to sell their CTDI engine here. They have an accord CTDI wagon in europe that supposedly gets 62 MPG on the highway. The Fit is rated at 38 highway, and I’ve heard of people getting into the low 40’s with them. My Jetta averages 43 combined, and has gotten 52 on a long highway trip, so the Fit is not far off the mark for what I’m accustomed to.

It’ll be great to get back into another diesel, and if my better half likes the Fit, we’ll sell her car when I buy the CTDI, and she’ll drive the Fit.

big trucks
I lived in New Zealand for a few years. It is a land full of farmers, ranchers, and blue collar types. During my time there I saw a handful of ‘full size’ pick up trucks. The ones I did see were towing horse trailers.

All the other farm-types I knew and saw managed to get by with small size trucks.

True, some people NEED large trucks but most people don’t they just like to think they do.

Dealer for a TDi?
Big mistake as you’ve belatedly learned. A vast majority of VW dealers are totally clueless regarding the TDi and almost invariably botch things up. Quite a few really competent independents around however if one seeks them out. One right in your area of CT in fact. Anyway, love my 96 Passat TDi wagon and it will NEVER see a dealer :wink:

$$$$ Lesson
Yeah, I learned a $3K lesson, and the car still needs to be repaired. It’s going to a very highly regarded independent shop to get things sorted back out, and then I’m trading it in. Fortunately (?), there is a 3 month or so wait to get a Fit right now.

No matter how good the TDI runs when I get it back, I’ll never believe it’s fixed now. Best I just unload it before it needs things like brakes, timing belt, and a clutch.

Before all of this, it was my perfect vehicle. Oh well. It’s just a machine after all.

Bigger not always safer, either.
Latest NTSB crash data shows that big SUV’s and trucks are actually LESS safe in a crash on average, because their bodies are more rigid, and don’t absorb impact as well as a car does. Plus, they’re a lot more likely to roll over in a crash.

There are some cars out there that are plenty tough (Volvos come to mind). I have been rearended in my last 2 VW’s, and not only did I not get hurt either time, my cars hurt the other vehicles worse.

My '01 Golf was rearended by a Ford Explorer, and while I had a small hole in the bumper cover and some scratches on the bumper, the Explorer was barely driveable, because there were parts hanging off the front of it, sticking into a tire, and pieces of the front cowl all over the road. I got a new bumper out of the deal.

My '04 Jetta wagon was hit at 40 MPH (I was stopped to make a turn & launched 45 feet from the point of impact according to the cops) by a Toyota Avalon. I drove away. The Toyota was destroyed right up to the windshield. Neither of us was injured. It cost $10K to fix my car, though. Good thing the other guy had insurance.

Most of the “small cars aren’t safe” bunk is auto manufacturer marketing hype — they make huge profits per unit on trucks and SUV’s compared to what they make on cars. And according to NTSB, they may be lying to you when they pitch safety to prospective large vehicle buyers. Your call. But if you don’t need a big vehicle, why waste the $$$ on fuel?

The Fit is go!
I’ve been driving a Honda Fit since the beginning of June, with about 1600 miles on it now. Started with 5. I’ve always loved hatches, but my personal faves are the 5 door hatches instead of 3 doors (I’ve owned both). The Fit really takes the qualities I like about the body style to new levels, though. The interior space is excellent.

I drive mine almost exclusively on surface streets…it’s seen very few highway miles so far. I’m still averaging about 35mpg, so I don’t think it would be a stretch to expect low 40’s on the highway out of it…especially since I got the sport manual that has cruise.

The fit kit for my Thule rack is on the way now, so it’s going to be an even more versatile vehicle.

hypocracy is what bugs me

– Last Updated: Jul-13-07 2:46 AM EST –

I take zero offense to any post here, but for the last 13 years have taken crap for my truck...u ntil they need me to haul for them or pull their little box out of the snow drift. My vehicles are always super well cared for and you will find no oil dripping from beneath my truck.
I've owned Subarus and found them very inadequate for my needs, especially currently. Add to that mileage not all that much better than the big diesel, half the life, higher maintenance costs. So over the miles and years the truck has been a far better servant. I could not imagine going back to a little wagon.
As for little trucks, my big diesel gets better economy than friends little Toyotas..

I have not all the answers and find these discussions interesting because they make us think about our use of resources.