Real cars, real-world fuel results

It’s no doubt that fuel economy is a high priority when people go to buy their new cars.

Yes, heated seats, air conditioning and leather-upholstered seats are wants, but they aren’t necessarily needs.

People desire to know how efficient the vehicles can be and what they can expect to be paying at the pump for a fill-up.

And the best way to test that is in real life. That said, a short test drive might not give you the kind of information you’re looking for.

Sure, there are estimated consumption numbers on the spec sheets, but what does that translate into when on the road?

Eighteen cars — driven by 18 journalists — were in the mix and ranged from pure electrics to plug-in and conventional hybrids to high-efficiency gas- and diesel-fuelled internal combustion powertrains.

Eighteen cars — driven by 18 journalists — were in the mix and ranged from pure electrics to plug-in and conventional hybrids to high-efficiency gas- and diesel-fuelled internal combustion powertrains.
Alexandra Straub/For the Province,

A group of Canadian automotive journalists gathered last week here in Vancouver to find out during the third annual Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s (AJAC) Eco-Run.

The objective was to “showcase the latest advances in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions being offered to consumers, as well as demonstrating ways Canadians can reduce their vehicle fuel costs by modifying their driving habits.”

Eighteen cars — driven by 18 journalists — were in the mix and ranged from pure electrics to plug-in and conventional hybrids to high-efficiency gas- and diesel-fuelled internal combustion powertrains.

That encompassed anything from a compact car, to a pickup, to a luxury SUV to a family sedan.

Furthermore, each vehicle was equipped with a special monitoring device developed by Cross Chasm, which recorded fuel consumption, as well as the driving techniques of the driver.

The vehicles I had the pleasure of driving were the 2014 Ford CMAX Energi, 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, 2014 Nissan Leaf SL, 2014 Mercedes-Benz GL 350 4MATIC BlueTEC, and the 2014 Hyundai Elantra. (For the full list of participating vehicles, visit ajac.ca and click on the Eco-Run menu.)

The objective of the Eco Run was to “showcase the latest advances in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions being offered to consumers, as well as demonstrating ways Canadians can reduce their vehicle fuel costs by modifying their driving habits.”

The objective of the Eco Run was to “showcase the latest advances in fuel efficiency and reduced emissions being offered to consumers, as well as demonstrating ways Canadians can reduce their vehicle fuel costs by modifying their driving habits.”
Alexandra Straub/For the Province,

Before we set off, participating members had the opportunity to take an online eco driving course. Visiting the website (ecodrivingonline.ca) and going through the presentation provided some really good tips on how to achieve better fuel results. Keep in mind, this information is not mutually exclusive to new cars or what’s deemed to be a “green” car. In fact, it can be embraced by drivers of all makes and models.

It was pointed out that each litre of fuel burned is the equivalent to 2.3 kilograms of CO2 emissions. So if you’re using less fuel, not only are you polluting less, but you are saving money at the pump.

A couple of tips include accelerating gently and maintaining a steady speed.

Armed with that knowledge, we set off from the Jack Poole Plaza in the heart of downtown Vancouver, up to Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and back, throughout the three-day event.

The Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is one of the cars our columnist drove in the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Eco Run.

The Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel is one of the cars our columnist drove in the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Eco Run.
Alexandra Straub/For the Province,

As mentioned, our driving was being monitored with regards to acceleration, braking and overall driving habits.

The most efficient driver at the end of the event would be awarded the Green Jersey.

Regardless of the Green Jersey, what I got out of the event was the awareness that we can all be more efficient drivers, even with vehicles that were designed that way from conception.

Who doesn’t want to get more mileage out of a hybrid? Or match/beat the estimated fuel consumption numbers?

Sure, you might need to adjust a few techniques, but instead of it being a chore, I found it was more of a game. A fun one at that.

Speaking of fun, to keep the good times rolling, there are quite a few charging stations for EVs/plug-in hybrids.

Eco Run cars were assigned to the writers at random for each leg of the rally, which took us up the Sea to Sky Highway to Pemberton and back.

Eco Run cars were assigned to the writers at random for each leg of the rally, which took us up the Sea to Sky Highway to Pemberton and back.
Alexandra Straub/For the Province,

For example, Whistler has no less than 11 Level 2 charge ports in their small community. I say small because, on average, there are around 10,000 residents. That number grows to over 50,000 during peak season.

Furthermore, the Pemberton Lodge in Pemberton was one of the first places in the Sea-to-Sky corridor to have a charging station.
Visit caa.ca/tools to check out where the charging stations are located in Canada. Additionally, the CAA website offers more tips on fuel-efficient driving and a Driving Cost Calculator.

While I didn’t walk away with the coveted Green Jersey (and bragging rights!) the combination of putting together 12 major manufactures, 18 vehicles, and the quest for eco driving domination was a blast.

An environmentally-friendly blast, of course!

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