7 Tips on How to Get the Best MPG on Your Road Trip to Vegas
When taking a road trip to Las Vegas, the more money we have in our pockets, the better, especially on the way back. So we talked to three auto journalists who recently underwent a Mitsubishi-sponsored hypermiling challenge from Las Vegas to Cypress, CA, and uncovered their strategies for getting the best mpg.
#1 Take A Fuel-Efficient Car
For the challenge, all three competitors drove the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage. “I knew it would be good, but it did way better than I expected,” said Aaron Gold, editor of Cars.about.com and Autobytel video reviewer. At 44 mpg highway, the Mirage’s claim to fame is being the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid gasoline vehicle available in the U.S.
#2 Slow Down
Cutting just 5 mph off your speed can create a significant improvement on your mpg, according to Mike Austin, automotive editor at Popular Mechanics. “There’s a direct correlation between slower engine speed and less fuel consumption,” said Austin. “Staying under 60 mph was really the key for me. I never went over, except when I was coasting downhill.” However, Gold, who won the challenge with an impressive 74.1 mpg, targeted the 44-55 mph range. Gold admits that his speed was too slow for public highways, and stayed in the right lane with the hazards on. "I only got honked at and flipped off by one person!" said Gold.
#3 Maintain a Steady Speed
Keep your eyes down the road and plan ahead for any stops or merges. "If you have to slow down and speed up, that kills you," said Gold. And when you are at a stop, accelerate slowly, keeping RPMs below 2000, advises Joni Gray, Autobytel editor. "And avoid hard braking, Gray said. "In fact, try to slow the car down very early so you barely use the brake at all."
#4 Use Cruise Control
We've established that driving at a slow and steady speed is key, but employing your cruise control will help ensure that you maintain that pace, especially on a long drive back from Las Vegas when you're likely to space out. "I wanted to trust cruise control rather than the inconsistencies of my foot," said Gold.
#5 Coast Downhill
Popping your car in neutral and coasting whenever you can not only saves gas, it's fun. "Coming down from the valley, I got 80 mph just in neutral," said Austin. "That was the fastest I went, and the most fun part."
#6 AC vs. Windows Down – Follow the 35 mph Cutoff
We know it’s the desert, but cranking up the car’s A/C is a surefire way to eat up your gas. So invest in some good deodorant and roll down your windows instead – up until 35 mph, that is. “I did a test years ago for Car and Driver, and found out that it’s more efficient to lower your windows than use the A/C; but over 35 mph, the A/C is more efficient,” said Austin. Or better yet, tough it out like Austin did and forget about any sort of cooling relief. “I just did a lot of sweating."
#7 Fill Up Your Tires
Putting just 5 lbs of extra pressure on your tire makes a big difference in reducing rolling resistance, according to Austin. Decreasing rolling resistance reduces the amount of power your vehicle needs to move, increasing its efficiency. Gray advises filling tires to max side wall, although this can reduce driving comfort by causing you to feel more of the bumps in the road.
Gold won 1st place by coming in at 74.1 mpg, winning $1,500 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Austin and Gray tied for 2nd place with 68.5 mpg. Each won $500 for their respective charities – the Wounded Warrior Project for Austin, and TJ's Dream Team for Gray.