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Old 12-19-2010, 06:43 PM   #1
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Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

Hoping to get some opinions on what my best options would be. Originally I was thinking about a Honda Civic or something about that size. (Cavalier, Corolla...) But I'm wondering if I'd be better off with a car the next size up (Accord, Malibu...) with a larger engine to deal with weight. I'm a musician and carry about 400 lbs of extra gear around with me during trips. I can, and prefer, to fit everything in a 4 door car. Most all my trips are 95% or more highway driving, on 70 mph speed zones. I'm a pretty big guy at 6'1", 245. Plus, sometimes one of the other band members rides with me.

So, my questions are: 1) Would the bigger car/engine get equally as good of MPG with the extra weight figured in? 2) Would the extra weight put excessive wear on a smaller car/engine, and would the larger last longer.

Being a bigger guy the mid-size car would be more comfortable on long trips. But if the smaller car will get 8-10 mpg better I'll deal with less leg room. If the extra weight brings the mpg down to almost equal, I'll do with the bigger car.
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Old 12-19-2010, 07:08 PM   #2
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

Hey-
I play music for a living and carry 200 pounds of drums around much of the time. I also carry one passenger during some of that driving. I have a Civic VX (see gas log) that averages over 50mpg. I've done mods, changed my driving habits, etc. I've had tanks over 60mpg. I don't carry the drums all week unless it's summer. I gig 3 times a week during the winter, more often during the summer.

What are you carrying that is 400 pounds? It really depends on how much space you need.

The rear seats are removed from my car, as well as some other weight to counteract the added weight of the gear. As such, it's a two seater. My girlfriend's civic has a surprisingly big trunk for it's size. It's auto and has gotten tanks as high as 45mpg (65mph highway trips).

50mpg is the only way I can make a living making $100-$200 a night at gigs. I also teach and don't carry any weight when I drive to the music stores.

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Old 12-19-2010, 07:11 PM   #3
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

The most efficient cars will lose some of their fuel economy with the extra weight, but the effect shouldn't be too bad in highway driving.

You might want to take a look at the "Hypermile sleepers" thread, linked in my sig, which discusses some relatively large cars that get good highway fuel economy.
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Old 12-20-2010, 07:23 AM   #4
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

With only 400-600 lbs of extra payload- the smaller car with the smaller engine will typically get better mileage. The extra stress on the engine is negligible unless you floorboard it all of the time.

If you live in a mountainous area, the loaded small car may struggle to maintain the speed limit on the interstate when ascending a grade and it will handle more poorly while loaded if you needed to take evasive action (swerving and braking hard).

Fueleconomy.gov should give you a baseline comparison between vehicles.
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Old 12-20-2010, 08:25 AM   #5
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

@ Ben... I'm carrying at least one heavy amp + two guitars, stands, cord case. Then depending on which band I'm playing at the time I may be carrying my smallish PA which consists of 12" speakers, stands, another cord case, and an 8 channel PA head. This all fit just fine in a Corolla I had, and that was without taking up the front passenger seat.

Before I owned the Corolla I had a '96 Camry which was WAY more comfortable to drive and got better FE than the Corolla by quite a bit when loaded. My best in the Camry loaded was 35. Unloaded consistent 35-36. The Corolla was really disappointing. 32 tops unloaded in the two years I owned it. Loaded, it would drop to 26, even down to 25 in the winter months.

I realize all cars vary some, and your mileage may vary But this is why I ask. Was it just the two cars I owned or is this the general consensus?
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:42 AM   #6
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

FE depends on so many factors. Can we get some more info on the cars? I suspect the cars were both auto trans? Were both vehicles in good running order? Any recollection of what RPMS were on the highway?
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Old 12-20-2010, 10:07 AM   #7
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

Guitarzan, I bet the Corolla was much newer than the Camry, right? Cars from the 80s and early 90s, and a few stragglers into the mid 90s, were very efficient...after that, efficiency went way down for most models. Weight went up, aerodynamic drag went up (thanks to modern styling), and power went WAY up.
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Old 12-20-2010, 10:50 AM   #8
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

The Camry was a '96 and the Corolla an '06. Both had AT's. The Camry I got with 70K on it, the Corolla new. I took the Corolla back to the dealer twice regarding the mileage. The first time they did some sort of diagnostic stuff and said they couldn't find a problem. That was a about 15K miles. The second time at 34k, just before the dealer warranty ran out and they wouldn't even check it out unless I paid. They said the MPG was within the manufacturer guidelines so they wouldn't do anything about it. I tried a couple different air cleaners in the Corolla with zero luck. There were other problems with the car also, so I at 46K I traded it in.

My wife has a Matrix. Either one of us can feather the gas pedal on it and it gets 33 tops highway. Another Toyota MPG disappointment. We took a Grand Marquis on a trip to CO for vacation this summer. Ran it 75 mph + on the highway, loaded with suitcases and both our fat butts and got an avg of 29 MPG overall, and that's figuring in the time in the mountains.

The Camry was absolutely the best car I owned by far. Got lots of miles out of it, it was comfortable to drive, the 2.2 was smooth as silk and the MPG was good even with my foot in it most of the time. But that was an older model.

There's a part of me that is intrigued by the idea of a Civic HX 5 speed and trying to hypermile it. I'd love to be able to say I was getting 50 MPG out of anything I drove. Then there's the other side that would rather get something a little bigger because of comfort and roominess. I'm just trying to weigh it all out. Don't know that I can see myself driving 2 hours away the taking my time getting home. I'm more of a "stick my foot in and get there" kind of guy.

Been reading thru the FE sleepers thread. That's pretty interesting. Keep the ideas coming. Thanks!
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Old 12-20-2010, 03:27 PM   #9
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

50mpg is very much needed at 600 miles a week. (or more) As such, I'm willing to drive a somewhat less comfortable, aerodynamically more efficient (and uglier), slower traveling vehicle.

Many people aren't willing to do that. And I understand that. I consider myself the exception, not the rule. Comfort is a big factor when considering how long you'll be sitting in the car driving it.

I don't know what was the last year of that generation camry, maybe it was 96'? Either way, if it were me, I'd scower craigslist and used car lots for a 96' camry with super low miles. You'll find one out there that was lightly used with less than 75k or something. It'll last you 100k if you keep up with the maintenance/rust.
That keeps your 35mpg and comfort. I believe Theholycow has a car called Christine in his garage that he described as the most comfortable he ever drove. Hopefully he can elaborate on this.. I think he sold his higher mpg car (VW rabbit) for this one.

The new chevy volt looks pretty cool too, if you are thinking of a brand new car.
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Old 12-20-2010, 04:47 PM   #10
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Re: Bigger 4 cyl or small V6 for highway and hauling

Quote:
Originally Posted by benfrogg View Post
I believe Theholycow has a car called Christine in his garage that he described as the most comfortable he ever drove. Hopefully he can elaborate on this.. I think he sold his higher mpg car (VW rabbit) for this one.
Christine is my 1980 Buick LeSabre. It is a full size car and came with an emissions-era 4.1L carbureted V6. I changed its 3 speed automatic for a 5 speed manual. I hope to change to fuel injection next summer.

Depending on criteria, I could call it the most comfortable car. Being 30 years old and in need of so many repairs, one could say some things are not so comfortable about it - squeeks and rattles, loud engine and exhaust, engine always idles very fast, window doesn't crank down smoothly, etc. The bench seat is plush; the center armrest is placed perfectly; the window sill is placed and shaped perfectly; the ride is plush (yet it handles surprisingly great); throttle, clutch, and brake all respond nicely; steering is very light (which I like); steering wheel is shaped nicely with two slightly angled spokes; controls are all in easy reach...etc.

I didn't sell my VW, it was a lease (I needed a car temporarily until I got Christine on the road, as well as needing a brand-new car for the security of knowing I'd get to my new job reliably - 3 years later, no longer an issue). The VW was actually a HUGE surprise in the comfort department; despite being a big guy and needing to spread out, I was comfortable in the smallest car I've ever driven.

The decision to roll with the Buick was for a few reasons...
- I hated to see it rot in my yard (inherited from grandparents 5 years ago).

- Total cost of ownership is rock-bottom even with bad fuel economy and my 75 mile per day commute. Insurance is cheap, parts are the cheapest, and I can do many of my own repairs on it.

- I wanted to be out of the monthly payment business and couldn't scrape up cash for a car purchase.

- Putting all my groceries into this cavernous trunk is much easier and more convenient than folding down the seats in the VW.

- The challenge of getting good fuel economy! I had pretty much mastered the VW, especially since I couldn't modify it (lease), and while I enjoyed 40+MPG, it's interesting to learn to get good FE from this huge stone-age car.

Right now my good tanks (about 50%) are 24MPG and my bad tanks are 20-22. I will eventually get consistently over 30MPG.
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