2015 Ford F-150: Oregon Road Trip Leg 4 - 707 Miles on a Single Tank
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on September 2, 2015
We rejoin our story after I wheeled our 2015 Ford F-150 back onto the interstate after the third refueling stop of my Pacific Northwest journey through Oregon and Washington. My hand clutched a McDonalds cheeseburger and a lukewarm cup of black coffee.
Mickey D's had been the only place open, but I didn't much care. And if I'm not mistaken, they've really cleaned up their act in the 10 years since my last non-breakfast visit. Or maybe my growling stomach made it impossible to be discerning.
No matter. The calories and caffeine were all I really wanted. I was about to turn off the freeway and head east toward the coast where I'd then bend left and begin following Oregon 101 south. It was going to be a dark night on deserted two-lane roads through occasional one-stoplight towns that were fast asleep.
It was that weird time of night that made you wonder if the car headlights trailing a half-mile behind belonged to a patrolman or just some local running a bit faster. I didn't push my luck, even though my brain told me the law was probably sawing logs at home.
The coastal roads were different. I saw no other lights or cars except when I rolled through towns spaced about 25 miles apart. The moon wasn't anywhere to be seen. In the darker places between settlements there were corners and cliffs, and many of these have the lumps and slumps that result when they build a road on land that is sliding inexorably into the sea.
Here the big Ford didn't seem like a big truck at all. Maybe the aluminum body gives it a lower center of gravity. Maybe I was in the zone. After awhile it was just me and the patch of light thrown out ahead by the high beams. The F-150 seemed to shrink around me because it was pitch-black to the rear and out the side windows, especially the ocean-facing passenger side. But this wasn't tiredness. I was wide awake and taking in every word of the podcast backlog I was steadily working through.
I arrived at my parents' place and immediately fell asleep until 10:00 a.m. the next day. A day later we loaded the improvised pod in the bed once more, said our goodbyes and began the journey home.
We decided to take Interstate 5 because of smoke and fires along our usual route closer to the coast, and this required a jog into and out of California to pick up I-5 in Grant's Pass, Oregon. Smoke blanketed our route anyway; the whole state seemed to be burning.
The smoke-obscured peak of Mt. Shasta came into view less than an hour after we re-entered the Golden State and we soon began our descent into the great central valley. Sacramento came up soon enough, and then we finally pulled off in Modesto for more gasoline.
It had been 706.7 miles since my last fuel stop, a 69-mile increase in the truck's best range performance. The Ford took on 34.308 gallons, which means this was the second tank in the truck's lifetime that cleared the 20-mpg barrier - but only just. The math worked out to 20.6 mpg (*golf clap*).
I expected better, but I find myself saying that every time I fill up this beast. The run from Cottage Grove to my folks place had been a 55-mph pace and the I-5 leg had hovered between 65 and 70 mph. We only made a couple of potty stops and took a lunch break. I did drive up and down the road to my parents' place, but only once.
Premium didn't seem to have paid any dividends, so I took the opportunity to switch back to 87-octane regular since the 36-gallon tank was close to bone dry. Because, why not?
We're only one more leg from home. Time to get back on the road.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 17,765 miles