Road Trip Fuel Economy - 2012 FIAT 500 Long-Term Road Test

2012 FIAT 500 Long Term Road Test

2012 Fiat 500: Road Trip Fuel Economy

February 16, 2012


With rare exception, efficient driving is not my strong suit, but on my trip back from Vegas, I was determined to get a passing grade from Fiat's Eco:Drive app. And so I abandoned the cutthroat environment that is Interstate 15, and cut up U.S. 95, followed it to Nevada 374, which becomes Daylight Pass Road, which I then followed to the California 190, and then to Panamint Valley Road. It was neat. I'd never been to Death Valley. It was 37 and snowing as I entered the park, and 62 degrees at sea level. Next time, though, I'll go through Badwater instead of Trona.

This was over 400 miles of driving, and while I didn't have the time to go exactly the speed limit on all the little roads, I tried to stay within 5 mph of it and minimize heavy throttle inputs. However, it was tough to avoid the latter on the short but steep climb out of Death Valley... you go from sea level to nearly 5,000 feet in what I'd guess was less than 10 miles. The 1.4-liter engine got winded, struggling to hold 45 mph in 4th gear with the throttle pinned. (Initially, I didn't even realize I was at full throttle -- given the lack of speed -- until I noticed the pedal wouldn't "go" anymore. <pointless detail that shouldn't have been shared> I considered a downshift to 3rd, but with no one behind me, I just eased up a little and continued on. I let the engine struggle like that for, I don't know, 3-4 hours, er, wait, 3-4 minutes, and only then, did I take pity on it and downshift to 3rd.</pointless detail that shouldn't have been shared>)

So how'd I do?


Uh, well, *trying* to drive more efficiently netted another 0.7 mpg.

294.4 miles --> 8.221 gallons of 91 --> 35.8 mpg

356.8 miles --> 9.762 gallons of 91 --> 36.5 mpg

That's not even close to the highwater mark of 39.4 mpg the Edmunds crew achieved during Fuel Sipper Smackdown 4 (the Fiat is rated 30 city/38 highway/33 combined with the manual gearbox).

And I still got a failing grade from the Italians, creeping up to only 45 after Sunday's score of 41. Man. At least Death Valley was spectacular. More thoughts from the trip tomorrow.


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Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 12,674 miles

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