Elegance

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As many of you know, I traveled over 1800 miles this week from NC to my permanent home in AZ after a 4-month work assignment in my dream National Forest. I'm a federal employee hired via a competitive fellowship which requires me to take a detail assignment (different position and duty station) for 4-6 months. I'm a New Englander who found a great job in the desert of AZ - Not exactly the most ideal location for me personally. So, I used the detail assignment to work my tail off and secure a permanent position in NC, a spot where I've always wanted to plant roots and puts my boyfriend and I much closer to our families. However, the detail assignment involved packing up our 2 vehicles with everything we need to live for 4 months, our cat, our dog, and our gecko, then driving across the country and back. What better way to say goodbye to my Big Bend than to give it one final road trip before my Badlands is built?

What did I have on the roof?
I bought Thule Evo cross bars and a Thule Canyon XT roof basket while we were in NC since I bought some stuff and was coming back with a few extra pieces of luggage. I wanted to document the effects on the MPG of the 1.5L when hauling about 80 pounds of clothes and a 35 pound roof basket across the country. Spoiler alert - It was challenging to drive in certain conditions. Here's what we had up on the rack. We kept things dry by covering it with a tarp after this photo was taken and securing it with the Thule cargo net seen below.
20220716_174554.jpg


Route Traveled
Here's the route we took to get back. On the way to NC, we drove through several Texas cities which wasn't the most fun even without a roof rack. So, we avoided it this time and took a calmer route mostly on interstate 40.
Screenshot_20220721-072044_Maps.jpg


Challenges Faced
With a loaded up cargo area and the rack, the 1.5L did not want to "giddy up." I was hitting over 3,000 RPM just getting up to highway speeds or passing slow trucks. I didnt feel overly "tippy" and the handling was still pretty normal, although I was cornering with extra caution and paying careful attention to not speed. I'd been driving between 65 and 75 mph the entire way through NC, TN, and AR. Once we got into Oklahoma and faced the Midwest winds, I couldn't even travel much over 70 mph. My boyfriend was in front of me leading in his vehicle and I could just no longer keep up. We were driving west into an easterly wind. The roof rack was legit acting as a sail. I checked the cargo position and tension of the basket at each gas stop, and none of it ever moved an inch. Very surprising since I was fighting the wheel the entire time. The Sport is already a literal box, but highway speeds with junk on the roof made things so much worse (and much more loud). My MPG up to this point was about 26 MPG, but it tanked in Oklahoma and beyond. Texas and New Mexico weren't much kinder in terms of wind. Here's my total MPG for the entire trip.
20220721_070905.jpg


In Conclusion
Am I thrilled I bought it? Absolutely. Especially secondhand at less than half the MSRP of the cross bars alone. There was a full-size hard shell suitcase, an army duffel bag, and a carry-on up there instead of taking up precious cargo space. My MPG suffered a lot, but I feel like my new Badlands will help a bit with the lacking "giddy up" issue and round out the MPG a more since I'll be able to keep the RPMs lower. I love road trips and having the basket just makes me want to travel even more. Lucky for me, I get to do this all over again in 8 months when we relocate permanently. If you don't have one and are considering it, buy one. Just drive carefully and don't take corners too quickly. 🙂

 
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jazzdab

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I wonder how a sealed rooftop cargo box like the Thule Force XT would compare. Obviously sealed boxes are not as flexible but might have less wind resistance and impact on MPG.
 
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Elegance

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I wonder how a sealed rooftop cargo box like the Thule Force XT would compare. Obviously sealed boxes are not as flexible but might have less wind resistance and impact on MPG.
I figured a box would be the smarter option for fuel economy. But it wouldn't fit nearly as much stuff as a basket can, which made it an obvious choice. If I'm going to lose MPG at all, might as well go big or go home.
 

thekingprawn

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I really appreciate the info. I'm struggling to decide if I want to get bars and basket or some such contraption to add cargo space for car camping. Hopefully I can find a way to suffer less on the mpg than you did.
 


3leggedhorse

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we recently traveled round trip Long Island to Pigeon Forge, TN. 1700 miles alltogether. 3 occupants, Thule Pulse roof box, 1.5l, stock tires. Handling was better yhan expected at interstate speeds. Traversing some of the local and back roads in the Great Smoky Mntns was also a pleasure.....never changed modes...left it in auto....
As for MPGs....Withouth the roof box I get 31 on the hwy......this trip...27-28ish.....speeds anywhere from 65 to 85mph. Comfort level was ok....better than expected....This truck is not marketed for the long distances but it was ok.
 
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NEFKANO

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Used my Amazon generic basket and with a few low profile bags ontop I took a few miles less on my overall MPG/s. But after trading in my truck...I needed to make the best use of what I have now... just set the screen to "CALM" mode and forget looking at the MPG readout... just frustrate you, lol : )


IMG_6567.jpeg
 

fsjdw2

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I’m kinda surprised your Mileage was so low. I did 5000 miles(Alaska to maine) in my forester xt(2.0 turbo) towing a 1200 lb 4x6x4 trailer, inside packed to the gills, and a roof rack full of gear . I got 24 mpg.
 
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Elegance

Elegance

Badlands
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Ok….missing info.
What gas did you use? 91 or 87?

My research for real world MPG….Aerodynamics have a bigger toll on MPG than load.
87. Gas was almost $5 per gallon during this trip and the government mileage rate would not be able to cover 91.
 


Poolmanz Sport Bronco

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87. Gas was almost $5 per gallon during this trip and the government mileage rate would not be able to cover 91.
Nice . Ok…so we can assume that 91 would of giving you better MPG. In my fleet we get at least 2 more MPG when we run 91. That’s mixed city and freeways.

My BS, we took a trip to Big Trees and Lake Alpine (CA), ran 91, we got 26-28 MPG, from sea level to 8k elevation.
Had to fill up with 87 at Bear Valley, (91 was $8/gal), so going back down home I got 25/26…then hit sea level.. I got 23.
Nice write up. Planing a trip to New Mexico….so thanks for the base MPG numbers.
 

Mark S.

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Nice . Ok…so we can assume that 91 would of giving you better MPG.
I agree that wind drag is the biggest factor in the flat lands; I don't think that would be the case in the mountains.

I'm curious about your claims regarding 91 octane. Unless 91 octane in your area doesn't use ethanol there is no known chemical or mechanical reason why you would get better mileage with it. 87 and 91 octane contain the same number of BTUs, which is the primary measure of energy available. Real-world test after test (including my own) has demonstrated no mileage gains with premium. Can you provide details about how you track fuel economy?
 

Poolmanz Sport Bronco

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I agree that wind drag is the biggest factor in the flat lands; I don't think that would be the case in the mountains.

I'm curious about your claims regarding 91 octane. Unless 91 octane in your area doesn't use ethanol there is no known chemical or mechanical reason why you would get better mileage with it. 87 and 91 octane contain the same number of BTUs, which is the primary measure of energy available. Real-world test after test (including my own) has demonstrated no mileage gains with premium. Can you provide details about how you track fuel economy?
Yo Mark!
I read your report. We are driving regular routes evey week in the SF Bay Area. We carry consistent payloads. I have used different methods, similar to yours. We have trackers in our trucks. Give me some time to break down the data. We have ran 87 for a week and then back to 91. I can do that again…since I don’t remember the weeks. Getting old.
But in short..my 99 F250 @87 I pray to get 200 miles a tank
@ 91 I avg. 260/280 a tank.
More to come…..have a great day!
 

endrMinr

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Yo Mark!
I read your report. We are driving regular routes evey week in the SF Bay Area. We carry consistent payloads. I have used different methods, similar to yours. We have trackers in our trucks. Give me some time to break down the data. We have ran 87 for a week and then back to 91. I can do that again…since I don’t remember the weeks. Getting old.
But in short..my 99 F250 @87 I pray to get 200 miles a tank
@ 91 I avg. 260/280 a tank.
More to come…..have a great day!
I suspect that the premium has less/no ethanol, several stations around me are like that. When I was in Oklahoma I could get ethanol-free in the 87, gained significant mpg vs E10

 

 
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