Gas Mileage Anxiety: Do YOU Get It?

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2011 Chevrolet Volt EPA sticker

2011 Chevrolet Volt EPA sticker

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Never mind range anxiety - that's old news these days. Most electric car owners say it lasts about a week after buying the car, and then you learn what you can and can't do.

Much more concerning is gas mileage anxiety, we think. What is gas mileage anxiety? Let us explain...

Back in the day, you'd buy a car, fill it with gas now and then, and be on your merry way. Simple!

Nowadays, you scour the price lists and for a car with good gas mileage, because gas is getting expensive these days.

Then, you drive it out of the lot, and rather than looking where you're going, you spend the journey home with your eyes welded to the instant or average mpg displays, hoping grimly that you'll match the official EPA figures.

If you don't match them, then you sue the company responsible, even if the testing procedure is out of their hands.

If you do match them, then you allow yourself a small smile, a hint of relief and promise never to let the display dip below the figure on the window sticker. EVER.

That is gas mileage anxiety.

It's the pressure of matching the EPA figures, which may simply be out of reach. It's what makes you 'hypermile' to make the most of every single long-chain carbon molecule, and it's what makes mpg far more important than mph these days--because you need to get your money's worth from each four-dollar gallon.

Or five dollar gallon, if you're unlucky today. Or reading this tomorrow. Possibly.

And all the while, the insta-mpg display leers at you from the instrument cluster, smugly showing depressingly low numbers as the speedometer beside it goads you into an extra mile per hour or two.

Of course, if you've already made the switch to an electric car, then none of this will concern you. You'll have already got over your initial range anxiety--if you had any to start with--and as long as you make it to work and back, life is good.

But just spare a thought for those of us with gas-mileage anxiety. We're doing all we can...


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