Monday, July 16, 2012

Confirmed: cheap gas

When I reviewed our Mazda 5, I complained that the gas mileage wasn't as good as we'd hoped.  Rather than the rated 22/28 city/highway, we were seeing around 18 in the city.  Now that we've gone on our first road trip in the 5, I have more to say about both useability and fuel efficiency.

Audi A3 owner and Mazda 5 owner enjoy the big sea-foam.
First, we found the car to be quite comfortable for our family of four and more than our share of beach gear on a recent trip to the Outer Banks.  Turns out our 5 had the most cargo capacity in the trip fleet, which also consisted of a Toyota Prius and an Audi A3 wagon.  In addition to our luggage, we ended up with 5 boogie boards, the beach shovel,  some buckets and the Pro Kadima.  We did draw the line at sand chairs.  The 5 may be bigger than a Prius and an A3, but it's still a microvan.  With the extra stuff, we were able to pack the back (third row seats folded, of course) and still allow visibility out the back window above the load.  We'd heard Mazda 5 owners complain that it doesn't provide much space for the little passenger-oriented stuff (e.g. sunglasses) on a trip.  We found it has plenty of space for us.  We found space for each boy's backpack, one for the parents and the snack bag.  The cruise control runs predictably and well; it's a good highway cruiser.

The one complaint on a hot summer drive was that the air conditioning seemed at times to need a "reboot".  After working quite well for hundreds of miles, both the cooling and the air movement of the fan would just start to poop out for a while.  We developed a technique of turning everything off for a few minutes, then turning the fan back on before turning the A/C back on.  This voodoo may have been a lot of foolishness, but it did seem to work to get the cool air flowing again.

Second, the fuel efficiency: it's not terrible on the highway.  We recorded an average of 25.9 mpg with a high of 30.2  Again, we'd love to get better fuel efficiency, but that's a marked improvement over our city mileage.  Speaking of which, for those of you who use your supermarket discount gas program (ours is Giant Eagle's FuelPerks at GetGo), you may be getting exactly what you pay for when you buy that cheap gas. 
For  a while, especially when they created the virtuous circle of food purchases earning gas discounts and gas purchases earning food discounts, I got my gas almost exclusively at GetGo.  Over four months, though, I've recorded an average of 18.8 mpg city on GetGo tanks and 19.9 mpg city from other gas stations.  I haven't done the full break-even math to figure in the gas discounts and the food discounts I earn by getting gas there, but I have adapted my policy to only get gas there when I'm going to use my discount on a big tank. My neighbor tells me Sunoco and BP return the best fuel efficiency.

Finally, having bought the 5 in November, I've discovered a design issue that only presented itself in the summer and will only affect certain drivers.  I carry a Leatherman Micra on my keychain, I have hairy legs, and I wear shorts.  The way my keys hang out of the ignition, the little round rivet-hinge-things on the Micra yank painfully at my leg hair.  It's a small price to pay for having a life-saving multi-tool at the ready, but it does hurt.  My brother-in-law fessed up to having the same new right inner knee-cap bald spot, and he doesn't drive a Mazda 5, so this problem afflicts other cars, too.


Karen Gorss said...

Wow, you keep really good records! To all our benefit. Thanks!

JFo said...

I got into the habit of resetting the trip odometer on every fillup and also emailing myself from my smartphone right at the gas station with the mileage, number of gallons and where I filled up so that I could go back later and compile the data.