Rewire a driving habit?!

About this time last year Liz and I bought a used car. We had previously decided to become a one car family. We sold the truck to help finance a trip to Europe, and the trusty Honda Civic had 280,000 or so miles on it, and so wasn’t feeling quite so trusty any longer. The big question was- What do we buy?

I sorely missed the convenience of the truck. Hauling bikes, building materials and manure for the garden was easy. Plus, it was easy to get into and out of, whereas the Honda was low and small. But the truck was a truck and for many reasons Liz didn’t enjoy driving it. Plus, the gas mileage in a truck was marginal at best. Liz wanted good gas mileage and a safe and easy driver. I wanted space for me and space for gear, and for occasions, the ability to pull a utility trailer.

After reading about, researching, and looking at different models we decided on a Ford Escape hybrid. It was big enough, comfortable enough and got good gas mileage. We got lucky in finding a clean low mileage 2006 for a fair price here in town.

1 Road trip RigOver the past year we’ve come to enjoy it a great deal. Our first big drive was a road trip to visit friends in British Columbia. It was comfortable and easy to drive, held all our gear and got good gas mileage. We averaged 32.5 mpg. I thought that was pretty remarkable for such a big car. Since then, the car has been training me. Being a newer vehicle, it gives a constant read-out of the average miles per gallon. Having that figure slowly drop or rise has trained me to have a much lighter foot on the accelerator and to slow down on the drives. The hybrid part kicks in when driving around town- the electric motor takes over at low, city speeds.

MPGI recently took it to my hometown in the Sacramento Valley to visit my mother. Before the return drive I reset the gauges. I had all day to make the drive so I set the cruise control at 62, turned on the radio, and headed south. It was easy driving. Lots of flat valley, a section near Soledad that gave a big tailwind and it wasn’t until hitting the hilly Central Coast did the average miles per gallon begin to drop a little. When I finally rolled up to the Peach House the gauge read 38.6mpg. A new high.

Seeing that gauge every time I buckle up keeps my foot resting a little lighter. I guess even at this stage of my life I’m trainable.

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