Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How easy can you take it in an F-150 SuperCrew?

Five years ago I bought an F-150 SuperCrew with a 5.4L V8 engine. My dad asked me to help him sell it. Instead I drove it for a day and a half and announced I was buying it.

Nobody could believe it. At the time my daily driver was a blue-on-blue Accord EX sedan with a manual transmission, and I loved it. And now I'm getting a full-size crew-cab pickup? Everyone expected me to drive the truck for a year or so, then dump it for another Honda, having learned an expensive lesson in late-model depreciation.

Nope. There it is in the garage. It's closing on 106K miles now, 68K of which are mine. It runs perfectly. In five years, in addition to normal maintenance, all I've done is replace an A/C line and the parking brake cable. It's a marvelous vehicle. I love my truck.

Well, there is one little thing. It seems I'm spending $3,000 annually on gasoline.

Now I'm not going to get into the ins and outs of why oil prices are where they are. I'm not even going to complain about it, really. I have been blessed with success sufficient to afford an $85 fill-up every ten days, and I really do thank God for the opportunity every time I do it.

However, that doesn't mean I enjoy it.

Lea and I are going to buy a third car soon. It may be a beater, or we may get something new, but it's going to get excellent gas mileage. I'll drive it to work, and she'll drive it at night. It's a car for when we're driving alone, or when we have only one child with us, dig? I'm looking forward to having it.

But it's going to be a month or two before we do it. In the meantime, as I was watching the numbers whirl dizzyingly at the gas pump yesterday, I decided I'd use this tankful to see what sort of fuel economy I could get, driving very carefully. I consistently average 15.5 mpg; how much can I improve it?

I'm not sure what I can reasonably expect. My dad was an excellent driving instructor, and I got extended lessons not only in safety but in efficiency. (And after I actually bought a few tanks of gas with "my own money," the jackrabbit starts did indeed become fewer and farther between.) The point is I'm already driving sensibly in terms of pointless acceleration, anticipating traffic signals, and the like.

So what can obsessive and meticulous attention do for me? If I can even get to 17 mpg, that would save me about $20 a month. We'll see.