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Coast-to-coast Cruze sets fuel-use record

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We did it! We broke a Canadian record for lowest fuel consumption.

My husband, Garry Sowerby, and I drove from Vancouver to Halifax on the shortest route in a 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel.

After 5,956 kilometres, we had an average overall fuel consumption of 4.21 L/100 km. That's 107.97 kilometres per imperial gallon and beats the existing Canadian record of 5.59 L/100 km. The Cruze consumed 250.9 litres of diesel fuel. (See below for more information on these statistics.)

On the final day, Friday, Aug. 30, departing Woodstock, N.B., in the dark, a silence came over the cockpit. After an hour, the first words Garry uttered were: "Once the fog clears, the big question will be which way is the wind blowing? Will it be in our favour?" He continued to mutter about getting "the number" down. It didn't sound good. Mutter. Mutter.

"You can't believe the numbers in my head!" he said. "Elevation. Average speed."

"Oh yes I can," I replied. "You're saying them out loud!"

Back into the silence. I recalled a story he told me about a similar run he made through Scandinavia on a fuel-economy challenge in 1991. This story crossed my mind more often over the previous nine days than I cared to admit.

That trip took place B.L. -- Before Lisa, as I call the time before Garry and I met more than 15 years ago. His female travelling companion at the time was, by all accounts, a patient, sane woman. On that trip, however, the Fuel Nerd stretched her patience to the limits. Near the end of the trip, as the incessant rattling and muttering of numbers intensified, she threw a jar of peanuts at Garry across a hotel room.

When he would tell me this story, I would think: Wow, you'd have to be driven to the end of your patience to do that. Now I understood.

Through my musings in the vehicle on that last morning, Garry cheerily and suddenly asked: "You ready to throw a jar of peanuts at me yet?"

But as Garry -- husband, travelling companion and tenacious Fuel Nerd -- says: "We feel very good about the outcome. If someone wanted to take a crack at breaking our record, they'd have to think hard about attempting it."

A road trip with the mission of beating a record must have parameters. These were ours:

1. Average overall speed on the entire journey must be 80 km/h or above. This may seem slow, but you have to think that speed limits through most of northern Ontario are 90 km/h. There is not much four-lane highway in Canada where the speed limit is 110 km/h. We were at no time a hazard on the roads. We drove the speed limit, slightly under where it was safe to do so. We travelled with the flow of traffic on two-lane highways and used passing lanes to their full efficiency.

2. The entire trip must be completed in eight days or 192 hours. We did it in 189 hours.

3. The entire route must be within Canada between Halifax and Vancouver. Direction of travel is up to the drive team.

4. No boats, ferries, airplanes or trains allowed.

5. You must use the least amount of fuel. We used 250.9 litres of diesel fuel.

6. Vehicle chosen is left to the discretion of the drive team. We used a 2014 Chevy Clean Turbo Diesel Cruze, according to Chevrolet, the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car on the market.

7. You're allowed to bring your own pillows.

We had a memorable road trip across the country and made some remarkable friends. We showed Canadians and ourselves that a massive drive across the country can be fun, frugal and fuel-efficient.


1. Feather pillows. We are not those people who travel with pillows. We smuggled those pillows into every motel room every night. We may not have completed the drive without them.

2. Shoes. In my first column about this trip, I stated that, to keep weight down in the vehicle, I would only take one pair of shoes. I knew there would be two urban nights: Vancouver and Ottawa. Of course, I had to bring a pair of "going-out" wedges. Final shoe statistics: Five pairs. Least worn? Those "going-out" ones, of course.

3. You're waiting for me to admit we hyper-miled, drafted behind transport trucks, waited out headwinds by the side of the road and got in huge daily arguments. None of these things happened.

4. At the outset of the road trip, I thought I would try to quit chocolate. This didn't happen either.

5. I did not throw a jar of peanuts at my husband.

6. We would do it again in a heartbeat.

Final Vehicle Statistics of the 2014 Chevy Clean Turbo Diesel:

Final overall fuel consumption: 4.21 litres per 100 kilometres

Instrument panel "fuel used": 253.8 litres

Total from fuel receipts: 248.6 litres.

With margins of error related to the instrumentation and the fuel pumps used across the country, our official claim is the average of the two: 250.9 litres.

Overall trip (from Vancouver to Halifax): 5,955.8 km

Overall average speed: 80.3 km/h

Total odometer on vehicle: 6,426 km

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2013 F7

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