Suburban Dad Vacation: Mileage

Perhaps the best aspect of the Sprinter is its mileage. It’s a big, hulking van that seats 12, yet I averaged nearly 20 mpg over more than 1,600 miles over the course of nine days. While it’s not Prius-like, there are millions of Americans out there who need to haul around that close to a dozen people at a time, and this is far better than driving in a gas-powered van that gets only 10-12 mpg. Here’s how each leg broke down in driving:

Leg 1: 405 miles, 8 hours on road, 20.6 mpg; Aurora, Ill., to outside Akron, Ohio.
I think we benefited from heading east; while winds were largely calm, they were blowing behind us. We got bogged down in heavy traffic leaving Chicago, which I’m sure cost us, and ran into some road work in Indiana. Still, it wasn’t too bad, although our youngest riders weren’t very happy at how long it took.

Leg 2: 310 miles, 5:40 driving time, 21.2 mpg; outside Akron, Ohio, to Honeoye, N.Y. Because this was a Saturday afternoon, traffic was much lighter and I made a lot more use of cruise control. Also, with temps in the low 70s, I was able to conserve fuel by turning off the A/C every so often, until my wife noticed and complained about how humid she was feeling.

Leg 3: 677 miles, 11:29 driving time, 18.5 mpg. From Honeoye, N.Y., to Aurora, Ill.
It’s interesting the difference weather can make on your mileage. Two things were very different from our trip east: The temperature had risen from 75 to 98, and winds were now blowing in 30-40 mph gusts. The combo effect of having to blast the A/C continuously and drive into strong headwinds took a toll on our mileage.

Overall mileage: 1,670 miles, 9 days, 19.7 mpg
All told, I was very impressed with the Sprinter’s mileage. I didn’t find the diesel engine as distracting or loud as I feared it might be, finding diesel fuel was no trouble, and all in all my mileage this summer wasn’t far from last year’s trip. Thankfully, though, both gas and diesel were only around $2.75 a gallon, down from last year’s $3.75 a gallon, saving plenty of money on fuel.