48.5 mpg…

That’s what the Jetta logged last night as we dropped the kid back off at college. That’s one Jetta Sportswagen (Golf Variant) hauling 3 adults and dorm-room gear loaded to the roof, driving through NJ, Manhattan and out to Long Island via all the usual congested metro roads. Traffic was moderate, roads were rainy and the engine isn’t even broken in yet, so I anticipate even higher numbers in the future. The car is quick, agile, fun to drive, zipping easily between lumbering SUVs, and it was very satisfying to know we’d hauled the kid and her gear back to school on one gallon of fuel.

Oh, and for all you hybrid fans, here’s something to consider. Hybrids are designed to recharge by regenerative braking (so long as those brakes actually kick in) and by the engine. It’s a system designed for stop and go driving, not highway conditions. And if you’re plugging it in to charge your batteries, unless those volts were generated via solar, wind or hydroelectric power you’re just relocating your carbon footprints, not eliminating them. I’ve read some other articles questioning just how ‘green’ hybrids truly are; it’s something to bear in mind when the time comes to get a new car. Another option: stick with a good old clunker. Keep your car (refrigerator, washer, whatever) as long as possible. We did with the Mercury until fixing was no longer practical, and at a mere 11 years that was disappointing. The Volvo made it to 17 before lack of available parts and an excess of rust took their toll. The ’93 Dodge Dakota, on the other hand, just passed inspection with perfect emissions yet again. I expect a good 15-20 years from the Jetta, more if possible.

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