By Kelsey Mays on May 20, 2009
The spring’s mileage challenge took three entry-level luxury crossovers — the BMW X3, Land Rover LR2 and Volvo XC60 — on 300-plus miles of mostly highway driving around northeast Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The results? Read on:
Interestingly, the numbers didn’t have quite as much space between them as the EPA figures suggest. At the end of the day, the trip computers showed the X3 edging out the LR2 and XC60 by 0.3 and 1.9 mpg, respectively. (Combined city/highway EPA ratings show a range of 3 mpg between the thriftiest contender, the X3, and the thirstiest, the LR2.) With about 85 percent of the miles driven on the highway, the Land Rover exceeded its highway rating, according to the trip computer, with the Volvo and BMW falling about 1 mpg short.
You’ll remember from yesterday, though, that the X3 and LR2 were driven in Sport mode during one leg of the trip. Wouldn’t that have taken a toll on their results? Fair enough: We calculated the mileage each car might have gotten had we driven Leg 3 in regular mode. As we mentioned yesterday, the LR2’s Sport mode cost it about 3 percent in mileage, and the X3’s Sport mode cost it 11 percent (deduced using the XC60’s mileage as a baseline, given it had no Sport mode). Correcting for this bumps the X3’s mileage to 23.7 mpg and the LR2’s to 22.8 mpg.
For all three cars, mileage calculated at the pump after the trip was slightly lower than the compiled trip-computer readouts. Way back in Mileage Challenge 2, Society of Automotive Engineers president James Smith told us that a number of factors, from fuel density to outside temperatures, can skew at-the-pump calculations. Over repeat fill-ups, Smith said, those calculations should even out to what’s on the trip computer, which usually measures fuel-injector pulses against distance traveled. Hence, in our mileage challenges we give more weight to the trip-computer readouts.
Either way, the X3 came out on top, followed by the LR2 and XC60. The LR2 improved the most on its EPA rating; despite its worst-in-group ratings, it earned a solid second place, both in trip-computer mileage and according to our calculations after filling up.
The XC60 trailed the group, but there’s a silver lining to that cloud. Stay tuned to find out what it is.
Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey