Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My 2004 Ford Crown Victoria

This is a picture of my Ford Crown Victoria at the Madeline Plain south of Alturas, CA.

Crooked River high bridge on US Highway 97 in central Oregon. This bridge was built in 1926 and spans an 850 foot deep gorge.

Tree along US Highway 395 at Sage Hen Pass in northern California.

US Highway 97 sign in central Oregon.

US Highway 395 sign in Alturas, CA.

Recently, I returned from a trip to Reno, NV. I drove my 2004 Ford Crown Victoria on this trip. I know what kind of fuel economy this car gets, but I like to clock the mileage from time to time just to keep my eye on it. On the return trip, I drove 479 miles between fuel stops. The amount of fuel used to drive these miles was 16.49 gallons. 479 divided by 16.49 equals 29.05 miles per gallon. The car is equipped with the 4.6 liter OHC V-8 engine and automatic overdrive. The route travelled was from Reno, NV via US 395, CA 299, CA 139, OR 39, US 97, OR 58 to Goshen, OR. No interstate highway miles were driven on this segment of the trip. Although most of it was open road driving, slow-downs were required in many towns where lower speed limits along the highways prevailed. The speed on the open highway varied between 55 and 70 mph. I used the speed/cruise control wherever possible, usually set around 60-65. Even throttle pressure maximizes fuel economy and using the speed control facilitates this. The specifications for this car call for the use of 5W-20 oil, and this reduces engine friction. I've commonly gotten 27-28 mpg with this car in highway driving, but this is the first time I've broken the 29 mpg barrier. Fuel consumption in around-town driving is lower, in the range of 17-20 mpg. Most people look at this car and think, "Gas Hog". It's deceptive.

I've talked to the service writer at the dealer where I have my car serviced, and he says that the mileage I get is typical of the 2003 and up Crown Vic and Merc Grand Marquis. He also agreed that the car is kind of a "sleeper" in that people do not expect that kind of mileage out of such a car.

The rear axle ratio on this car is 2.73 and when the automatic overdrive is in 4th gear, the final drive ratio is .70. When you lock out the AOD, or it kicks down, the third gear is running one-to-one. The police and performance versions of this car have quicker rear axles, mostly 3.27 and some 3.55, so of course cars so equipped don't get as good of mileage but they accellerate faster. My car has all the accelleration that it needs for my purposes.

Many old timers and back-yard mechanics hate "computer cars". However, having fairly complex computerized controls on automobile engines causes them to operate much more precisely and efficiently that older systems.

My first car was big, old 1957 Lincoln. That was in 1966 and gasoline cost around 26 to 30 cents a gallon. I didn't pay much attention to the fuel economy of that car, but I do remember buying the cheapest fuel I could find. I used to drive this car to the desert with my high school friends, and the trip to where we used to go was about 140 miles each way. The fuel tank held 20 gallons, and if I was real careful, I could make the round trip of close to 300 miles. Sometimes it was very close, and I used to worry enough that I would fill it before I got home. I dreamed of having a car that had an easy range of 300 miles on one tank of fuel. My 2004 Crown Victoria has a 19 gallon tank. Recently, after driving 479 miles, the car still had about 2-1/2 gallons remaining. I've driven 500 miles on a tank of gas before with it, but the low fuel light comes on at about 475 miles and even though it still has more than two gallons left, the light being on makes me nervous. It's nice to have that 500 mile range when you are out on the road, crossing desolate stretches of road. There are a lot of those in the west, and they're my favorite roads.

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