Home > 39.4 Miles Per Gallon

39.4 Miles Per Gallon

July 13th, 2008 at 11:34 am

Have you ever checked your car's fuel efficiency? Up until recently, I hadn't checked mine, but the EPA rates my 1999 Honda Civic as getting 29 City/35 Highway. (You can check your car's efficiency on

I suspected it might get quite a bit less than the EPA estimates because when I bought my kayak a few years back, I had a kayak rack mounted on the roof of the car, causing considerable wind drag. And are my car tires properly inflated? I don't really know; it's not something I check regularly.

My Honda isn't an EX, DX or LX. It's an HX. What makes it unique is the CVT, or "Continuously Variable Transmission." As explained in the sales literature, this transmission works a little differently and is supposed to eke out a little more fuel efficiency. That's the extent of my knowledge on CVTs!

The car has an automatic transmission.

So I made note of the odometer reading when I filled up 13 days prior, and then again this weekend. I drove a total of 390 miles during this interval. Most of that is my RT 47.5 mile commute. I divided 390 by the number of gallons on the second refill.

I was astonished to see that I'm getting 39.4 miles to the gallon! To what do I attribute beating the EPA estimate by 4 miles to the gallon?

I am a master of fuel-efficient driving techniques. I've driven this way for years. Here's what I do:

First, my entire commute is on back roads. The county I live in is largely residential and there just aren't any major north/south highways; the only alternative to the back roads, if you're traveling north/south, is a single two-lane highway that is heavily commercial and greatly congested. Most commuters I know avoid this highway like the plague because it's a notoriously stressful and slow route to take, and in fact mile-wise, it adds eight miles to my drive. In any case, the back roads are very scenic and you pass by some lovely reservoirs.

On these back roads, the fastest you can drive is 50 or 55 mph.

I'm guessing my average commute speed is 45 mph, which is close to the "sweet spot" of maximum fuel economy.

I try to drive at a consistent speed and, importantly, leave enough room between me and the car ahead of me so that if the other driver brakes for any reason, it may be possible for me to simply take my foot off the gas; if I do brake, it's gentle and gradual. So no tailgating and no hard braking!

When starting off from a stop sign or traffic light, I accelerate gradually.

Basically, I treat my car as if it were a slow-moving senior who needs extra time to get where they're going, and I don't push it to do spectacular feats. (Actually, its 4 cylinders never really made it a speed demon, so that's just as well.)

7 Responses to “39.4 Miles Per Gallon”

  1. Broken Arrow Says:

    Wow! I never knew Honda had a CVT model out on the road! Learn something new everyday I guess.

    But yeah, I've been hearing about fuel efficiency from them stretching back all the way to the 80's, possibly more but I'm not a mechanic or car afficiando. It's too bad that Americans, in our infinite wisdom, never quite pay attention to these things until oil gets scarce.

    I hope that fuel-efficiency-- or better yet, alternative fuel-- is here to stay for good. It SEEMS to be the current trend but who knows....

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    Our 2007 Honda Odyssey EX has something like that, I automatically turns off some cylinders when it can, saving gas. A little ECO light comes on when it turns them off. I don't know much about I maybe have used the wrong terminology...but it is doing something to be efficient!!

    I'm sure your fuel efficiency is better than our though!

  3. Apprentice Fun-Frugalist Says:

    I've become a Honda fan too !! Bought a 2004 Honda Jazz (knows as Fit in US) in March -only had 47000 miles on it. You only have to press a knob beside the speedometer and it gives you your real-time mpg. I live in a small town and every time I've pressed it, it says I'm getting a mpg of 52-53. Amazing !!! :-) Mine doesn't have CVT but another thing called DSi (not sure what it does.. but it relates to efficiency somehow :-) )

    My Honda really is a perfect fit for me for the following reasons :

    Stylish, very practical, fun, cheap to run, very frugal, rare ( In Ireland anyway - I was never one to follow the crowd).

    This just blends in with my frugal lifestyle. I am enjoying all the perks of a Lexus type driving experience for 1/5 of the cost !!! I LUV it !! I know I won't turn the heads of any girls... I'll leave that to the guy with the 06 Ferrari in town... but as Van Morrison says "this may be the perfect fit".

    I am happy with it and at the end of the day, that is all that matters.

    Best of Luck with your health issues !! :-)

  4. Dido Says:

    Great fuel efficiency Nice to know that you have that even without buying a hybrid. I've recently started keeping track of the mileage I get on my 10-year-old Subaru Forester; it varies from 20-25 mpg. I'd love to get greater mileage but a replacement car isn't in the plans any time soon.

    I hope you have a great visit with your dad this week!

  5. Jane Says:

    Isn't Honda great? I have a used 2005 Honda civic that I drive about 400 miles one way to visit family. Always track the fuel efficiency,and last time I got it up to 45 mpg on the highway. Almost fell over! (This is with keeping the tire pressure up, changing the oil regularly, and not speeding.) Honda beats most hybrids on the market right now- nothing like that to generate brand loyalty!

  6. Sunshine Suz Says:

    It sounds like we have the same driving habits. I like to coast to a stop too! "Driving like a slow moving senior" is a perfect description! Gotta take care of our oldies. I have a 99 Chevy Cavalier with 152,000 miles on her. I didn't have to have a brake job until 110,000 miles. She gets 29 mpg which I think is good. I work with a bunch of guys and they tell me it runs on 2 squirells!

  7. MileHighGirl Says:

    My fiance's 1992 civic is getting an average of 43mpg. He coasts, doesn't speed, keeps the tires inflated. I'm getting about 30 with my 2007 CRV.

    I don't understand what people are doing buying hybrids, when their mileage is not any better than a small civic. I'd love to have an environmentally friendly car, but it better be doubling the miles per gallon I'm getting now.

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