Hooniverse Asks: How Far Do You Usually Go On a Tank of Fuel?

With all the talk of late about how Teslas are able to go 200+ miles on a fully charged battery and how other companies have set that as a benchmark for future all electric fare, I got to thinking, just how does that compare to the gas (and diesel) engined cars and trucks the rest of us riff-raff are consigned to pilot?
Fuel economy and gas tank size vary wildly from car to car, but I think that there’s about a 250-mile expectation of most of our daily drivers. What about you, is that your expectation? How many miles on average are you getting out of a tank?
Image: 2040 Parts

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  1. BigRedCaveTroll Avatar

    I usually get 375-400 miles out of a tank of gas in my Frontier. I get around 22-24 MPG average (mostly city driving), sometimes 26 on the highway. The highest I’ve ever achieved was 28 MPG, and the lowest was 19.

    1. Fred Talmadge Avatar
      Fred Talmadge

      I hate that miles per tank number, because it means absolutly nothing. That’s my rant of the day. Back to the question I’ll fill up when the needle gets below half a tank. If you want a number in my TSX Sportwagon I can go about a week on 5/8 of a tank if all I do is go to work. The real number is 29.6 mpg

      1. Tanshanomi Avatar

        Miles per tank means nothing? Tell me that the next time I’m driving across Wyoming or Utah.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          160 days to see what’s at the other end?

        2. Fred Talmadge Avatar
          Fred Talmadge

          Last time I drove across Wyoming there was a town about every 200-300 miles. Nevada is pretty empty as well.

          1. karonetwentyc Avatar

            Ditto Utah for emptiness. Actually, just add ‘the majority of the Western stretches of Interstates 70 and 90’ to that list.

      2. P161911 Avatar

        My old K-5 Blazer could go about 300 miles on a tank. It had a 31 gallon tank.

    2. karonetwentyc Avatar

      This jibes with every 4-cylinder Subaru I’ve ever owned or driven. 1985 Brat? 23-24mpg average. 1989 Wagon? 23-24mpg average. 1999 Forester S? 23-24mpg average. 2012-ish rental Forester? 23-24mpg average.
      Not really much of a mystery as the cars typically have fairly low final drive ratios – the Brats were in the 3.9:1 ballpark, and IIRC the ’99 Forester had something like 4.44:1 in the diffs.

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    All the way to the fillin’ station.
    I dunno — tripmeter’s broken in the 300SD, and I’m too lazy to make a solid mental note of what the odometer reads when I fill up. I’d guess I get 400 miles between filling up and the brief loss of power after hard right turns that indicates the tank ain’t got much left.
    On the Ody, we get a pathetic 275-300 miles most of the time, almost all city driving. On road trips, we’ve stretched it out to 450-460.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    300-350 miles with both the Silverado and the Trailblazer. Truck has about a 20 gallon tank, Trailblazer about 18 gallons. With the Leaf, 60-70 miles depending on if you use the heater and how low you dare take it.

  4. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    Usually until the light comes on.
    Not what you meant?
    300-ish miles per tank in the 9-7x. 350-ish in the GTO.
    Long trips don’t help much with the Trollblazer, but the GTO can break 400 highway miles per tank.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      So how does the Trollblazer compare to the Otherblazer? I wonder if SAAB managed to stretch out mileage a bit.

      1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

        According the fueleconomy.gov all else being equal, they get the same mileage. Mine, being an Aero gets the worst mileage of the GMT360 sextuplets, along with the AWD Trailblazer SS (16mpg hwy)

  5. Frank T. Cat Avatar
    Frank T. Cat

    So, I always fill up around half a tank.
    On the 900, I go around 250 miles until half a tank.
    On the 9-5, I go around 300 miles until half a tank.
    (the 900 spends very little time at partial throttle)

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Isn’t it a good idea to use up all of it occasionally? Or are you afraid of what might lurk at the bottom of the tank (bits and pieces)?

      1. Frank T. Cat Avatar
        Frank T. Cat

        Mostly do that to keep the fuel pump submerged so it runs cooler and stresses it less. I’d really rather avoid a fuel pump replacement on the 900, since that requires dropping the tank. And I don’t want to touch the brittle 16 year old plastic fuel fittings on my 9-5’s fuel sender unit.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Now that’s a good argument that I have never even thought about.

        2. longrooffan Avatar

          This may explain why I need to replace the third fuel sending unit in my longerroof in as many years.

          1. Frank T. Cat Avatar
            Frank T. Cat

            Yeah, most fuel pump failures come on the heels of running the tank empty. Found that out with the 245.

          2. salguod Avatar

            I hate stopping for gas and routinely run my tank nearly dry. Got to 180K (from 22K) on my Escort’s factory fuel pump, 170K on the Mazda3, 205K (from 39K) on my Odyssey and we’re at 175K (from 112K) on the Prius. In fact, the only fuel pump I’ve ever replaced was on my 1988 Caravan. My experience contradicts this theory.

        3. mdharrell Avatar

          I’m pretty sure it would just raise issues with the various other things in their respective engine compartments if I tried keeping my fuel pumps submerged.

          1. 0A5599 Avatar

            Are they not already submerged in whatever leaks from the valve covers (and, as applicable, the cooling system)?

          2. mdharrell Avatar

            That’s still problematic for the air-cooled two-strokes, as they have neither valves nor valve covers, but their fuel feed is via gravity and, in one case, pressure from a supercharger anyway. No fuel pump needed.

      2. Fred Talmadge Avatar
        Fred Talmadge

        I don’t do that to avoid sucking any sludge from the bottom of the tank. I assume the gas mixes up pretty well, if not then I’ll start doing the race car weave before start

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Isn’t a gas filter standard?

          1. Fred Talmadge Avatar
            Fred Talmadge

            A big slug of gunck would clog your filter.

  6. Maymar Avatar

    I almost always fill up once the fuel gauge has fun through each stage of warning empty (as that’s when it’s down to the 10L reserve, of a 42L tank). That averages about 400km (and an average of about 7.5L/100km or 31mpg).
    On my bike, I go about 200km between fillups. I could probably stretch it longer, but it’s older than I am, and doesn’t have a gauge.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      I’m surprised the newish, tiny Mazda 2 doesn’t do better. Here’s 442 cars on a German site averaging about 6.7 L/100km:
      Might be an octane issue?

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Octane is a fair bet, I also tend to drive on the aggressive side (lots of full throttle), or at 120+kmh where aerodynamics become an issue (I mean, at that point, it’s around 6.8l/100km in steady driving, never mind any throttle inputs).
        I’d blame snow tires (i usually end up running them about 6 months because I have to store tires and do the swap at my in-laws’, an hour away), but I believe snow tire use is pretty high in Germany as well. Also, is that figure a mix of 1.3s and 1.5s? I don’t know if that makes a difference.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          Yes, snow tires are mandatory all over Europe, I think. You’re right about the engines, too, I didn’t filter out alternatives. What I found interesting with switching over to a small displacement modern engine was that the difference between hard and calm driving was in a 20% range. That said, I haven’t had the van on a racetrack yet…

  7. Nick Biss Avatar
    Nick Biss

    Roughly 300 miles per tank in a Focus ST. I used to average that in an 03 Grand Cherokee V6 as well.
    Honestly, 200 miles is too low of a bar while refueling points are still limited for the Tesla.

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      Well that depends a lot on the individual. One of the advantages of an electric car is that you can have a refueling point at your house. Yes I know not everyone lives in a place where they could have one installed but if you do you can leave the house with a 200mi range everyday that you remember to plug it in. 200 mi per day exceeds the majority of people regular daily use. For me a crazy day might be 150 mi so I can see it filling my needs all but a handful of days per year. It would even cover say a trip from Seattle to Portland. Get a fresh charge at the hotel, something you can find in the Seattle and Portland areas, and a few minute bump for just in case is doable along the way as a little insurance.

    2. Maymar Avatar

      Eh, for the Tesla, it’s not going to cover everyone’s needs, but you could say that of any car (just for different reasons). Short of the occasional road trip (something that happens once or twice a year), I virtually never drive more than 200 miles within a day, and I doubt my habits are exceptionally common. Some of the longer trips might require a bit of planning, but that’s hardly a monumental grievance.
      Of course, I can see there being large (and less populated) swaths of the country where that’s not a viable option, bit I think Tesla’s focusing on the needs of the bigger markets for now.

  8. Bob jones Avatar
    Bob jones

    04 forester xt usually 250-280ish. It’s cracked 300 but rarely.
    05 golf tdi usually around 450 give or take with 90% city driving and a/c use. Max has been 801 all hwy.
    97 4 runner is about the same as the subaru. Both around 20mpg +/- 5.

  9. Sjalabais Avatar

    Pretty regularly 500km between fillings, but it can do 666km on a filling if you summon…you know.
    Not long ago, I filled on monday and/or thursday mornings because of the stupid price scheming of big oil – cheapest monday morning with a high on wednesday evening. But we’re so lucky to have an independent, oligopoly-breaking provider of gas and diesel in our village now. Thre price is very competitive and remains unchanged for months. So I drive more freely. My wife is extreme though, she often won’t fill before it’s only fumes left. She also tends to get to her commuter train with a margin of 30-90 seconds. Wild thing.

  10. engineerd Avatar

    The E90 gets about 2.1 million feet per tank. The XJ is horrible with bigger tires, a roof rack, and only 16 gallons of the 20 gallon tank useable. It only gets about 1 million feet per tank. The wife’s Edge gets about 1.8 million feet per tank which gets stretched out to 2 million feet per tank on road trips.

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      I’m assuming Cubits aren’t an option on your odometer.

      1. engineerd Avatar

        I tried to get it calibrated for cubits, but the guy at the shop just said, “Riiiiiiight. What’s a cubit?”

        1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
          dead_elvis, inc.

          Should have asked for a conversion to kiloSmoots.

          1. Tanshanomi Avatar

            I like to divide my speed in MPH by 3* and quote it in megapicas per microcentury.
            *rounding up; it’s technically 2.9896

        2. karonetwentyc Avatar

          There’s only one correct measurement of fuel economy.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            Measure it in whatever units you like, but the correct expression of fuel economy is as a cross-sectional area:

          2. karonetwentyc Avatar

            Bonus points for the xkcd reference. I’d been keeping that one in reserve.

  11. HuntRhymesWith Avatar

    I got 15 miles out of the tank in my RX7. I guess it didn’t help that it was spitting fireballs the whole time, and that the speedometer cable kept disconnecting itself.
    My 1996 Miata could get about 350 out of its 11 gallon tank- but only if you hypermiled it on the highway for many hours with a tailwind. The aero and highway gearing are terrible on that car. For perspective, I was once able to get 33.1mpg in an e39 540i hypermiling in the right lane for 50 miles.

  12. Tiberiuswise Avatar

    My current DD is a 1.5 liter Fusion and it has about the best range I’ve seen. If I’m careful I can get 35 MPG on the highway and the 16.5 gallon tank means a realistic range of 500 miles. I think my personal best is 546, after which it took 15.568 gallons to fill to first click-off.
    Yes, I’ve run out of gas a few times. Not as many as you’d think. A good rule of thumb is that you have about 40 miles after the car says 0 miles to empty. Besides, it’s fun wondering if you’ll make it to the next gas station.
    On the opposite end of the spectrum, in mostly around town driving, FrankenJeep can drain the good part of a 20 gallon tank in 250 miles. Of course there’s other reasons to wonder if you’ll make it to your destination involved there too.

    1. Scoutdude Avatar

      At least with the Fusion you should have a miles to empty reading and at least a light that comes on when it is down to ~50 mi to e.

      1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

        I can usually go 40 miles past 0 miles to empty and still be almost a gallon short of advertised capacity on the fill up.

    2. salguod Avatar

      The listed capacity of the fuel tank on the 318ti is 13.7 gallons and I regularly put over 14 gallons in it. 14.62 has been the most.
      I once put 20.5 gallons in my Odyssey’s 20 gallon tank – after coasting up to the pump.

  13. Tanshanomi Avatar

    With a full tank, Kizashi’s dash display shows 340 miles to empty. Its actually a bit more than that, as it camps out at that number for about the first 15-20 miles. I usually fill up when that number drops below 50.
    As far as mileage, the computer’s MPG readout is conveniently about 10% optimistic. In mixed city/highway (average speed 33 MPH) it currently shows 24.7 MPH, which in reality is about 22–23.

  14. outback_ute Avatar

    In the ute, 5-600 but it does have 2 tanks (one filler, 2 pumps, factory)

  15. Scoutdude Avatar

    My current DD as it has been for many years now is a Panther. This one in particular is an 05 P71 and I tend to fill it at the 250-275 range. The interesting thing is that its fuel light is really late to come on. All my others had tend to set off that light at ~1/8 tank and 272 miles on the tank (yes 272 on multiple versions). This one doesn’t turn on until just a hair above the E and usually 280 ish on the tank. The usual MPG hovers around 19 for it.
    Now my wife’s car a Fusion Hybrid usually gets filled at 600-650 which is about the time the fuel light comes on. It does vary depending on the time of the year when it wears non LRR winter tires it will dip to an average of 36.5 while in milder temps it will do 40.5 on the LRR tires it wears that time of the year.
    Now with my Scouts I tend to need to fill at 180 miles tops.

  16. karonetwentyc Avatar

    In-town driving, approximately 450-500 miles depending on A/C usage and traffic conditions. Highway (which is typically cruise control on at 80 with the A/C running), 600-650 miles depending on terrain. Tank capacity is 14.5 gallons, IIRC.
    Despite VW’s lack of truthfulness about the TDi’s emissions, I really do have to give them credit for efficiency and driveability. That Jetta is just very, very good at what it does.

  17. hove102 Avatar

    Driving on the streets, I usually fill up after about 210 miles in my Jeep, but I could probably push that to closer to 250 if I wanted to see the reserve light come on. I haven’t taken a long highway trip yet but I can imagine that those 19.9 gallons would still only get me about 275 miles.

  18. PotbellyJoe★★★★★ Avatar

    By current estimates? About 2.5 months.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      I last filled my F100 in 2005. If I’m not mistaken, @mdharrel has a Skyliner that has gone even longer since the previous fill up.

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        According to the previous owner, this would have been at some point in the early- to mid-1970s. So far during my ownership it has covered approximately 1200 miles, so in some sense it’s doing great?

        1. Vairship Avatar

          Who is the guy who’s buying the GTO or G8 again? That one came all the way from Australia and I’m not sure he’s put any gas in it yet!

  19. XRSevin Avatar

    2000 miles on the Volt. 280 miles on the CR-V.

  20. Hatchtopia Avatar

    320 miles is my usual limit in mixed driving in the Escape. I average about 23 mpg, which is pretty low for the 4 cylinder, but in my defense, my commute is 1.4 miles.

  21. smokyburnout Avatar

    I shoot for at least 500 miles, but I settle for less in the winter half of the year when it’s more important to be filling up while the sun is out.

  22. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    My trip computer usually shows something like 450 miles when I fill up. And the warning light goes on with about two gallons left in the tank. Driving at a nice even eighty or so, I can average about 30 mpg. 4 -7 mpg if I really baby it, and a whole lot less if i’m having a lot more fun or in city traffic.
    But the range limit thing relates more to bladder capacity, which i find doesn’t like being pushed much more than 200-250 miles, unless we’re driving through a very hot, dry desert. Then it becomes a question of #sixpacks/empty.

  23. salguod Avatar

    The 318ti goes 400-425 per tank, the Prius 250-400*, the Mazda3 250-350, the Tbird about 100, but that’s partly due to a flaky fuel guage that shows empty with half a tank remaining.
    * In the winter, economy drops from mid 40s to the mid 30s and the tank capacity, due to the stupid bladder design, goes from 8-9 gallons to 6-7.

  24. spotarama Avatar

    Tuesday answer, my Yamaha vmax gets regularly 60 miles from full to reserve (12 litres or a bit over 3 US gallons) , though the ‘best’ I’ve done was about 30ish when it was still new to me and I was still regularly exploring its performance paramaters
    as for the clown car (holden/Isuzu rodeo 3.6l petrol V6), I’ve got no idea, from where I sit I can’t see either the odometer or fuel warning light so I just keep an eye on the guage

  25. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    I had a P6B V8 15 (UK) gal tank (=18 US gal) tank in one of my Rover P6 2000TCs which normally have a 12 gal tank. I got 550 miles before pulling the reserve switch on. The reserve switch is on the left of the speaker, the choke, (remember those?), is on the right

    1. karonetwentyc Avatar

      Out of curiosity, what year was that P6? My 1972 2000 Automatic had the hockey stick-type controls (barely visible below) for the choke and fuel reserve. Never quite worked out where the cutoff was as I’ve seen both Series I and II cars with either type, though I’d imagine that things did get swapped around over the cars’ lifetimes.

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        The console in that picture is a later, Series II. The Series I is the interior in your picture. Theoretically there was a complete changeover, in practice some new stuff got put on early and some old stuff got put on late.e.g. The ‘hockey’ sticks were on the NZ Series II P6Bs together with the earlier switches above the console, instead of the later switches which ‘should’ be accompanying the later round instruments. Generally the NADA cars got new stuff first. And if you had a broken choke cable, the only replacements were the later ones.

        1. karonetwentyc Avatar

          OK, that makes more sense. Of the three P6s that were in the family, mine was (IIRC) the only Series II car.
          For what it’s worth, mine was something of an oddball. Series II interior, some Series I exterior badging (not sure if it came that way from the factory or not), and a couple of other oddities I can’t completely recall at the moment. Could have been the result of the previous owner’s maintenance efforts, or it could have just been down to it having been built close to the changeover to the 2200 cars and BL was digging deep into the parts bin on the day it came down the line.
          I really should get another P6 – this time, a V8, and track down the 5-speed out of an SD1 to stick behind it.

          1. Rover 1 Avatar
            Rover 1

            Badging was one area where there were a lot of irregularities. As covered in James Taylor’s book on the P6 S II cars went out with S1 badging and vice versa. Sometimes cars were repaired after accidents with the later parts as well. A damaged S1 could come back looking like a brand new later model car. A big temptation with a car of the production life of the P6.

          2. karonetwentyc Avatar

            Thanks for mentioning the James Taylor book, which I am definitely going to have to dig up a copy of; somehow, I never managed to pick one up when they were first published.

  26. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    I got to know the guy I bought my Kawasaki ZZR 1100 from when I stopped to help him on the side of the road when he’d run out of fuel. He was quite annoyed that he couldn’t find the fuel reserve tap which had been a feature of all his bikes till then. I had read that these bikes didn’t have the reserve position but had two tripmeters to compensate. I took him to the nearest gas station and loaned him a jerrycan and took him back to the bike, kept in touch and a month or two later when he tired of scaring himself witless with it’s performance, was able to buy the bike from him.

  27. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    ~300 on my FiST and its tiny tank. my Volvo does like 450, and i drive it so infrequently these days that it’s not gonna get more than a couple tanks per year.

  28. ptschett Avatar

    The 2015 Challenger does 300 highway if I’m being an idiot, 350 without much effort. I pulled off a 400-mile trip in my prior (2010) Challenger once with good planning and the ’15 could probably do the same.
    The ’96 Thunderbird has actually been a little bit more efficient MPG-wise, but the gas tank is enough smaller that it’s hard to go much more than 300 miles.
    My ’05 Dakota is my shortest-ranged vehicle, it rarely gets more than 250 miles before a refill. (And then one of the front brake calipers decided to start sticking recently…)
    Less recently, I had an aftermarket plastic gas tank on my old KLR650; the result was a motorcycle with more range than my butt could handle. One riding season ended with an early-November trip of more than 200 miles out into the forests in Minnesota near Lake Itasca, and on that trip the only times I had both feet on the ground were within the city limits of Fargo.
    Even less recently, when I was in high school in the late ’90’s and gas was about $1/gallon I didn’t really care… except the ’96-’97 winter when I was driving one of my dad’s ’78 F-150’s, the one with a 500cfm 2-barrel carb on the 400ci V8 and with only the single 16-gallon gas tank under the far back end of the box. Best-case fuel range to absolutely-empty: 160 miles. The only time I’ve seen a gas gauge move faster is the rockets I try to build in Kerbal Space Program.

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