This is my first post, but I thought you might be interested in my two cars, Red GrandAm and Black 'Stang, and my 172 mile daily commute.
Two months ago, on March 3rd, I began commuting from Chatsworth, in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, to Riverside. This coincided with the drop in value of my house (bad time to try and sell) and the rise in gas prices. My '99 Grand Am and '88 Mustang Convertible are paid for and are worth more to me than to anyone else, and realizing the biggest cost of a car is depreciation, I decided to keep them for now and use them for the commute.
Being "careful" (or cheap, according to some), I want to spend as little as possible on gas so I can use my wages for other, more important, things. So, I started off doing a "super tune-up" on my Mustang (a 5.0 V8 5-speed). If you look at my gas logs, my mileage has hovered around 29 and 30 mpg. The Grand Am is now reaching 35-37 mpg. Granted, most of this is freeway, but I am still destroying the EPA numbers without any modifications to my cars.
The Answer? Driving slow! I am a reformed speed demon (hence the V8 Mustang), so making this adjustment has been just that--an adjustment. Driving 58-60 mph is hard. It takes a lot of effort and concentration. But it pays off. Easier on the car (I want to make it last), easier on the emotions since I am not racing to get to work and arriving frazzled, easier on the DMV points and insurance since I won't be getting any tickets any time soon, and lastly easier on the credit card paying for my gas.
This proves that you don't have to drive a micro-mini (too small), or a hybrid or diesel (both overpriced right now) to get good mileage. When it is time to replace one or both of them I might consider one of those vehicles, but until I have to buy I will maximize what I already have.
there are a lot of little things that you can do to get those numbers even higher. like inflate the tires to near side wall max (some push past that point) do a grill block for better aerodynamics and faster engine warm ups. also a warm air intake for better mileage. all of these are inexpensive and sometimes free.
I can't get over the 28+mpg out of the 5.0 that is awesome. i have a dodge dakota with the 4.7 and it gets 18 or so. I did put 4.10 gears in the back and that killed the gas mileage. what are your rear end gears? I thought they put 3.73s in those things. just curious.
also, some of these guys are getting 60-70mpg out of their hondas so even though your numbers are well quite frankly "freakin awesome" they still are about half what some other people are getting. you are right there with my cavalier and you have at least twice the power. I need to work on my car.
good numbers though.
Be the change you wish to see in the world
A big part of the mileage is probably the rear end ratio. With the stock 2.73 rear end (same spec's as the CHP for their Mustang of the 80's) I run about 1600 rpm @ 60 mph. The car is practically idling. I have to admit I had thought about dropping some lower gears like 3.55 or 3.73 for better acceleration, but that is in a former life. I believe gearing and extremely low rpm's on the highway make a difference for both of my old cars. As I have seen in some other discussions, engine speed on the highway makes a big difference for both mileage and longevity for the equipment.
As for modifications, I hesitate to mess around too much since daily long-distance reliability is a big issue. Living in California it doesn't take long to warm up, and I don't want it to overheat in case I get caught in traffic. But I appreciate the ideas and encouragement. I do keep 35 lbs in each tire, which I may increase to 40, although I don't want to ride a buckboard for 3+ hours every day. But experimenting with various things might be interesting.