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September 05, 2013


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Alexandra LeMay

The last time I drove a standard I was 20 years of age. I was the designated driver and my buddies were hardly in a position to point out the subtleties of using a clutch. I'm pretty sure I stripped whatever gears the car might have had. I have avoided standard vehicles ever since.


I have had a standard transmission most of my life, and until recently with the newer electronic controlled transmissions there was a very definate fuel economy advantage with the standard, especially with the 5 speed transmissions - assuming that the standard is driven well. Some friends had identical 4cyl 2.2L cars except one was auto and the other was a 5 speed. The auto at best could get 32 with an average 28 mpg, the 5 speed regularly got 36+ and averaged 34 (IMP).

With the new cars, keep in mind the type of driving, with the lock up converters an automatic can get virtually the same economy on a road trip as a standard.

However the generic statement "By keeping your vehicle in this range, your engine is not working as hard as it would at higher RPMs." is simply not true. It takes the same power (force) to move the car whether you are reving the engine high or lugging it at a low rpm. The key to economy is to keep the engine at its most effecient speed for the task at hand. For example, you might be "only at 1200 RPM but with your foot to the floor to go up the hill, you engine is well below it's most effecient range and will use more fuel than if you dropped a gear and could use less throttle pressure.

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