Fuel Mileage and Reliability

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Michael Norris, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. Michael Norris

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    So I have noticed a few folks on here who chase in turbo Subarus. I drive an 04 Forester XT myself and know the very lackluster fuel mileage. That combined with a relatively small tank, and I'm lucky to achieve 300 highway miles before I need to fill up. And that's running it all the way to fumes. Seeing as how that really isn't good for the fuel system, that means realistically needing to fill up after only about 225-250 miles. Not to mention the reliance on premium fuel. So to those of you who chase with these vehicles, and anybody else who chases in a less than fuel efficient vehicle, has this made any noticeable/ significant impact while out in the field? If so, how have you counteracted that?

    And a side question specifically for the Subaru guys, how has overall reliability been in the field? Having been a Subaru enthusiast for quite a few years now I'm all too familiar with common issues such as head gasket failure and ringland failures that can rear their heads with frequent aggressive driving or driving in severe conditions, as well as 5-speed transmission failures. Have yall had pretty good luck with all that? While my luck so far with those things has been great (knock on wood), the last thing I want is to have my engine start knocking and die while attempting to get out of the way of an approaching supercell.

    Thanks everyone!
     
  2. Todd Lemery

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    I chase in a Chevy Avalanche. It’s supposed to get 18 mpg highway (I have no idea what it actually gets), but has a 37.5 gallon fuel tank which works out to a theoretical 675 mile range. I don’t ever remember having to dive into a gas station in the middle of a chase with it. I guess the point is you may want to focus more on driving range instead of fuel mileage if you can afford to absorb the extra cost.
     
  3. Michael Norris

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    My Subaru only has a 15.9 gallon tank. I can usually manage 19-20 mpg, which works out to between 300 and 320 miles. But of course that's if I run it dry. I would love something with a greater range though. It's not entirely out of the question, but I am hoping to at least wait until my current car gives out. I'm rather enjoying no car payment
     
  4. Drew T

    Drew T EF4

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    I currently chase in an 09 Titan. Fuel tank is fairly small for a half ton pickup (only 26 gallons), but I'm still good for upper 300s on fuel. My only complaint is the lack of room inside if I have more than one other person chasing with me, but that's only a big issue a few times a year. That said, I still have my eye out for something with more room inside. If I had a crew cab, I probably wouldn't look to change

    One of my biggest complaints about Subaru is your choice is basically between serviceable power (with terrible fuel mileage) and fuel mileage (but it's a gutless turd). That, and the fact that they are a complete pain in the butt to work on. It's not 1999. You can make good power in a 4 cyl that still gets good fuel mileage. Toyota has a 200hp 4 cylinder in their new body style Camry that gets 40 mpg. Granted it's not AWD, but it gives you an idea of what's actually possible in terms of technology with motors, and Subaru hasn't entered the 21st century with their motors yet.

    19-20 mpg for a turbo 4 is only slightly better than what I get out of a nearly 6,000 lb pickup (I get 18-19), and yet I have nearly twice the available power. For that matter, I can get low 20s in an equally capable (from an off road standpoint) Xterra or R51 Pathfinder, albeit with a V6 that "only" puts out 260hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. I've done enough serious off roading in my Titan to know that there's not much out chasing that it (or an Xterra or Pathy) can't handle. The Toyota 4Runner and Tundras are probably even more rugged in stock form, with similar fuel mileage numbers, albeit generally much more expensive to buy, especially fairly new and low mileage.
     
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  5. Michael Norris

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    An 06-09 Toyota 4Runner is actually what I would like to replace my Forester with eventually. More room, bigger tank, and like you said, similar mileage to the Forester, even with the optional V8 they offered and 4wd. Just as a real world example of my concerns with the Forester; when I drive to my inlaw's from San Angelo to a northern suburb of San Antonio (about 220 miles), if I stay on the speed limit (70-80 most of the way), I'll be at about 1/8 of a tank when I get there. For normal everyday driving it doesn't bother me, but if I get more serious with my chasing and get out beyond the local area more, it makes me a little uneasy
     
  6. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I have become a fan of Toyotas as chase vehicles based on the experiences of friends who have them and from driving a Yaris since 2012. As much as I want a 4Runner (one of the most ideal all-around chase vehicles IMO), I continue to be impressed with the stability, toughness and practicality of the Yaris. When I had a Ranger, I would need front-end alignments after chase season and at least one other time during the year. The Yaris almost never needs any significant alignment adjustments even after equally crazy jaunts on washboarded, pothole-filled roads in the Plains and Midwest. I went off-roading at 80mph in an interstate median this season after getting cut off suddenly, and there was no ill effect other than the rear bumper cowling breaking one of its attachment rivets loose. It gets 400 miles on an 11 gallon tank (without hail guards, around 300 with them on). I have 255,000 miles on it and have had zero engine or transmission issues. As long as the tires are good, it never has any stability issues in heavy rain or on gravel. The only problems I've had to have a mechanic fix were the two rear wheel bearings going out at different times. I don't like the cramped interior space, but given the quite significant cost savings from the gas mileage and it's so-far remarkable toughness, I will probably buy another one when this one eventually dies. I'm no brand loyalist for no reason, but the Toyotas have performed exceptionally for everyone I know that has used them chasing.
     
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  7. Michael Norris

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    I'm with you on the Toyotas. I drove a 2008 Camry for several years and loved it, though it only saw very rare chase use. The only mechanic work it ever had done was a water pump at about 30k miles which was covered under warranty. I put 120k miles on it and never had any issues. My mom has had both a Sequoia and a Highlander with similar experiences. Not much beats a Toyota reliability wise
     
  8. Marc R. O'Leary

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    I chased in a 2007 Forester XT 5spd. It was an awesome car for chasing, but the 5spd got old, and my back started getting worse, so I needed to change cars. THE day I bought my new (used) car, my forester died. No idea what happened yet, she's just sitting in the driveway, looking forlorn.

    Anyhow, yeah...about 300 miles on a tank stretching it. I just got used to topping off every chance I got. That car was a beast on nearly any road. It never once left me stranded on a chase. I was never stuck. Visibility was amazing. It was fast as hell.

    On the other hand, 5spd requires a free hand, and the constant shifting got old. It was kinda small inside. Back seats worthless so they were always folded flat. Slept back there a time or two.

    As far as trying things to boost mileage, I didn't. It just wasn't worth it. I had thought about removing the rear seats, but at the same time I was carrying two spare tires and had a roof basket. Figured if I'm going to chase in a 20mpg (best case) car, I better just suck it up and get gas more often.

    Yes Subaru's have some common issues, but with proper maintenance, these things can be avoided. Any car an be subject to a freak failure, which is what just happened to mine. I'm guess the turbo ate itself, which if that the case, is BS because the turbo only has 50k miles on it. I think it may be a cooling issue. I had a leak, then I believe a airlock or something in the system. It ran fine for 3 weeks after the leak, then one day, rattle rattle bang dead. 200K miles and change.

    FWIW, I replaced it with a 2016 Kia Sorento SXL AWD V6. Its amazing. I'm getting nearly 30mpg. And my back is thanking me for it. Oh and ventilated seats...talk about a feature DESIGNED for chasers.
     
  9. Drew T

    Drew T EF4

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    @Michael Norris If you get a 4th gen 4Runner, I would recommend sticking with the 6 cylinder. While the V8 does have significantly better low end torque, at highway speeds (for example, passing on the highway), upper RPM power is pretty similar between the two. V8 4Runners are rather difficult to find as it is, and the 4.7 wasn't Toyota's best V8 by any stretch. Reliable, very much so, like all of their motors. But likely not enough extra power to compensate for the hit on fuel economy. The 4.7 was a rare misstep on Toyota's part, that Nissan learned from when they introduced the TItan and Armada with the 5.6L. Nissan later put the same V8 in the Pathfinder, which does make for a more difficult decision if I end up choosing between a V6 and V8 Pathfinder, as the power difference at all RPMs is very significant between the 5.6 and the 4.0 V6 in that era (as is the fuel economy)
     
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  10. Michael Norris

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    My wife actually drives a 2016 sorento LX AWD V6 and I do love it. Even without all the fancy leather and ventilated seats and whatnot it's very comfortable. Drove it from San Antonio to Birmingham, AL and back around Christmas and it was great.

    I bought my Forester a few years back when priorities were different and the turbo and the 5 speed were more important than more space and a comfortable ride. As much as I love it, it's becoming harder and harder to justify it now.
     
  11. Quincy Vagell

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    I'm on my third Toyota Camry and they've been great. The only downsides for chasing are limited handling on muddy roads and how low the vehicle rides. (Prone to bottoming out, but newer Camrys are better than the old ones with that.)

    My first 2010 Camry went to 235K before a deer totaled it. It didn't need anything beyond routine maintenance except replacing the O2 sensors after about 175K.

    Replaced it with another 2010 Camry and I hit 275K yesterday. It runs as good as it did when I bought it at 150K. Same thing, no big work needed except the stubborn O2 sensors.

    I can also get 38-40 mpg on the highway and have exceeded 700 miles of driving with its 18 gallon tank. Realistic driving averages closer to 30 mpg, when you reach the 75-80 mph speed limits out west and up north.

    It may not be practical for most chasers due to handling, but it also has a surprising amount of room (especially the trunk) for a vehicle its size.
     
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  12. Marc R. O'Leary

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    Sounds like we've taken similar paths. I bought the Forester because it's a sleeper and it's fast. Did some suspension upgrades and basically had a sportswagen. Now with my back, I just wanted more luxury/comfort and of all things the Sorento ticked every box. Yet to see how Sorento does on sticky roads.
     
  13. Randy Jennings

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    I will echo what Todd said about range being important . May of the fuel efficenct cars get that way by reducing weight and one big way to do that is to have a smaller tank (and no spare tire). I drive a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and I get over 500 miles on a chase and rarely have to fill up until the way home on a long chase. My chase partner has an older Trailblazer and we often have to fill up during the chase. We usually need to stop for food or a bio break, so it is not that big of a deal, but I would consider range for sure if buying a new vehicle. Also be aware that some new vehicles have auto engine kill when stopped to save fuel - that is feature I would avoid.
     
  14. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    My 2013 Taurus has a 19 gallon tank, and I only get around 320 miles locally, but can easily hit 430 miles with all-highway driving. That irons out to around 17MPG locally and 23MPG on the highway, but this is considering many factors -

    - The car has tons of available power. It's never disappointed me on acceleration or power. Ever. It is very easy to pass the century mark by accident if you aren't paying attention.

    - I drive like a douche.

    I should try very cautious driving and following the speed limits to the letter to find out what the actual fuel mileage is.
     
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  15. Michael Norris

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    We were headed to a pumpkin patch last fall out off a dirt road. It had just rained the day before and things got a bit sketchy, but the sorento did great I thought. Never missed a beat FB_IMG_1529178079047.jpg
     
  16. Warren Faidley

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    Even though my Nissan Xterra has a 300+ mile full tank range, I always keep the tank full, right up to the time when I'm actively pursuing a storm. I've ended up in areas where power is off and extra fuel was critical in getting to the next town or avoiding lines when time is critical. The fun starts when hurricane chasing. Fuel is the juice of life. If fuel is available, I'll stop and top off the tank even if its only a couple of gallons low. You never know when or where the next opportunity will occur. Extra fuel cans are great but you can't store them in a vehicle. There is also an excellent app called "Gas Buddy" that shows gas stations with fuel. I used it during Hurricane Irma.
     
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  17. B. Dean Berry

    B. Dean Berry Moderator

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    Warren, check out Rotopax. I've been heavily considering them. Will probably put a combo plate mount with 2 2-gallon cans onto a hitch-mounted spare tire carrier.

    It's only 4 gallons, but 4 gallons will likely get someone to a fueling station, or out of a disaster area.
     
  18. Warren Faidley

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    Thanks, but I mostly use rental SUV's for hurricanes as I fly in and it would be difficult to carry such a set up. I'm also not a big fan of gas cans near the rear bumper area as too many people are texting and causing rear end accidents. Gas igniting there could be a disaster.
     

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