Real world gas and driving data of a small SUV

Pumping expensive gas
This is probably more of a curiosity for data-minded people than anything, but here is the complete gas price, gas mileage, and miles driven for the nearly four years I drove a compact SUV.

I’m one of those people who records several bits of information every time I fill-up with gas. Typically, this allows me to compute my mileage and that’s about it, but recently, I sold my 2004 Mazda Tribute ES (a re-badged Ford Escape) and decided to have a look at the historical data and see if it would make some interesting graphs.

First, and probably of the most interest to the general population is my graph of the cost of gasoline over the past several years. Most of the fill-ups were done in the same general geographic region (northern Colorado) with an occasional fill-up in Denver or Vail. Typically, you can spot these atypical fill-ups by the size of the fill-up and the number of days since the last one, as the drive to the mountains is around 350 miles each way.

Graph of the cost of gasoline in Colorado over the past several years

Notice how short the “down” price periods are compared to the “OMG, there’s a gas shortage!” periods are. No wonder the oil companies are getting rich and really look like scammers.

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The Tribute/Escape is considered a “small SUV” and compared to the behemoth Yukons and Excursions, they are indeed small. Because of that, you’d think that it would get significantly better gas mileage than its larger cousins, but that just isn’t really true. You see, Ford was still using a 10-year old engine design in the 2004 models, and without the variable valves and other technological innovations that tend to happen over a TEN YEAR timespan, the engine was, well, a guzzler for its size. The Duratec V6 really showed its age as it dipped to 12 MPG during the winters!

2004 Mazda Tribute MPG data

So, I then wondered if I tended to drive any less when the price of gasoline went-up. Apparently, since I generally drive to work and back and rarely take “optional” lengthy drives, my use is relatively steady regardless of the price per gallon.

Miles driven vs. cost per gallon of gas

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So, there you have it. Real-world mileage from a small SUV driven for real reasons by a real person. Not quite what the EPA ratings of 18/23 on the sticker would indicate. It’s a good thing they’re re-doing the MPG rating system in 2008.

And, if you’re really interested, here is my 2004 Mazda Tribute ES V6 AWD Automatic PDF which includes the graphs and the data I used. Please note that I’m not a statistician, so if there’s a mistake or some other data I can compute, let me know and I’ll see if I can fix/add it.

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