I’m a fairly humble guy but sometimes it’s worth noting your accomplishments.
That’s the case when it comes to The Great Canadian Chevrolet Diesel Fuel Economy Challenge which recently occurred across Canada.
Chevrolet Canada loaned out three different types of vehicles and challenged journalists to get the most efficient fuel consumption number we could over a 250-kilometre trip of our choosing.
The vehicles loaned out were a Silverado 1500, a Tahoe and a Suburban.
Yes, you read that correctly. These monstrous vehicles were used in a fuel efficiency challenge.
But these vehicles were also equipped with Chevy’s newly available 3.0L Duramax Turbo-Diesel I6 engine.
And which vehicle was sent my way for the challenge? The heaviest of them all, the Suburban. Still, having been a fan of diesels for years due to their low-end torque and good efficiency while highway driving, I was optimistic.
When it was all said and done, Chevrolet Canada announced which journalists got the best efficiency number, respectively, for the challenge:
Tahoe: 6.6L/100 kms
Silverado 1500: 6.3L/100 kms
Suburban: 6.3L/100 kms
And guess who got the best efficiency number in the Suburban? That’s right, your humble author.
To put 6.3L/100 km (37 MPG) into perspective, the subcompact Kia Rio gets a combined rating of 6.5/100 kms (36 mpg).
So, how was I able to achieve such an impressive number in such a massive vehicle?
Well the aforementioned diesel certainly did most of the work, but efficient driving habits will make any vehicle more efficient.
Firstly, the 250 kilometres had to be all highway and relatively flat. Cruise control is also your friend as it is able to maintain a consistent speed more than any human ever could. There are a few exceptions to that, and that’s when going up an incline or down a hill.
When going up a hill, all the cruise control cares about is maintaining the speed you set it at, and it will use more power to keep you at speed. It’s best to feather the throttle yourself at this point, almost like pretending that there is an egg under the gas pedal, and you are trying your darndest not to crack it.
When going down hill, use physics and let the natural momentum of coasting to keep you going. When your foot isn’t on the gas, you aren’t burning gas. Coasting as much as possible is an easy way to save gas.
Simple trick: Reducing your speed on the highway reduces fuel consumption.
Some other tricks I implemented was the speed itself. Going 90 km/h instead of 120 km/h means that you will burn 30% less gas. Now, this is tolerable for most people behind you when the limit is 90 or perhaps even 100, but when the limit increases beyond that, be aware the unhappy drivers behind you when they have no ability to pass you.
Needless to say, a couple one-finger salutes were thrown my way when they were finally able to pass. They weren’t participating in a fuel efficiency challenge, so I wasn’t bothered.
Another trick is to turn mostly everything off inside the car and roll up all the windows. The less energy that is used for the A/C and the radio for instance, the more gas you save. You won’t be saving a colossal amount of fuel by doing this, but whilst in a fuel efficiency challenge, every drop of gas saved counts.
Check the tire pressure and reduce unnecessary weight!
The other thing I did before we took off was to ensure the Suburban’s tire pressure was at the manufacturer’s recommended figure. If you don’t know what the recommended figure is for your specific vehicle, check the driver’s side door jamb. T
A sticker there indicates your ideal tire pressure. If there’s no sticker, check the owner’s manual. Regularly checking your tire pressure can save you as much as three per cent in gas and helps increase the lifespan of your tires.
And last but not least, get rid of any unnecessary weight in the vehicle.
All of these techniques may ensure a win, if you participate in a fuel efficiency challenge. On a daily basis, you’ll see a noticeable difference in how much gas you use for every day driving.
Fuel efficient driving techniques also double as defensive driving techniques, so you will also become a safer driver. On top of it all, the less gas we burn, the better it is for the environment.
Safer, cleaner. It’s all win-win-win.
If you don’t believe this winner of The Great Canadian Chevrolet Diesel Fuel Economy Challenge, then try it yourself. Set your fuel consumption monitor to zero and give it a go. I promise you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.