2008 Jeen Grand Cherokee CRD
2008 Jeen Grand Cherokee CRD. Click image to enlarge


2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD and 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD – By Paul Williams

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2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD

Ottawa, Ontario – Long time Ottawa residents tell me that the winter of 2007/2008 reminds them of the city as it was decades ago. This season’s often frigid temperatures and piles of snow – almost 200-centimetres by the end of December – used to be the norm for winter in this part of the world. I guess we’ve been spoiled here for the past few years.

At least I’m driving an SUV that that seems unfazed by the harsh climate. The 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel motors its way through pretty much anything, its 3.0-litre engine and Quadra-Drive all-wheel drive system generating whatever kind of torque and traction is necessary to pull and push you along. My latest trip took me “down south” to Niagara, where, contrasting with Ottawa, patches of snow seem to have been placed decoratively on the mostly green landscape, and icicles are made of plastic, illuminated for holiday celebrations.

After filling the Grand Cherokee in Carleton Place, Ontario, about 30 kilometres west of Ottawa, the plan was to determine the Jeep’s actual fuel consumption for a long trip, while practising the fuel efficient driving style we’ve promoted in this series. The outside temperature was about -10 degrees Celsius; skies: grey; roads: icy and slush-covered; with the vehicle wearing a thin winter coat of road salt, and lightly loaded with luggage and gifts.

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD. Click image to enlarge

Canada’s Energuide program rates the Grand Cherokee Diesel at 12.0/9.0 L/100 km, city/highway, and the best I’ve been able to achieve, on the highway at least, is 9.5 L/100 km. Frankly, I didn’t see how you could do any better – such was the effect of my efficient driving style, and the unusually mild temperature at the time. Leaving Carleton Place, I set the cruise at 90 km/h (the speed limit is 80 km/h) for the drive down Highway 7, which is part of the Trans-Canada Highway in this region.

The first town you meet beyond Carleton Place is Perth, and once past Perth there’s really not much to see. The landscape can be scenic, with its tall pines and frozen lakes, but this is where abandoned motels like the Land o’ Lakes and the Trelawney punctuate the roadside, along with derelict restaurants and gas stations. A Greyhound bus still stops at Actinolite, but not many long-distance travellers choose this route anymore, preferring the pace of the super-highway to the south. It’s hard to believe that in its glory days, Highway 7 was the main road between Toronto and Ottawa (actually it used to stretch all the way from Ottawa to Sarnia and the U.S. border). Motorists would overnight in one of the numerous motels, dine in log-cabin restaurants and actually get served in the service stations.

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD. Click image to enlarge

But it’s a good road for an uninterrupted (and nostalgic) drive, and as the temperature unexpectedly warmed and the skies darkened, big fat snowflakes began pelting the Jeep’s windshield somewhere around Silver Lake. Most Canadians are familiar with this kind of weather, where the snow’s falling so heavily that you can hardly see through it for looking, and a thick blanket covers everything in a matter of minutes. The weather front was heading east, and I was fortunately driving south-west. Experience suggested that by the time I reached the North shore of Lake Ontario, it would be raining.

The relaxed and even pace was paying off. Driving through Kaladar, the Jeep’s trip computer displayed fuel consumption of 8.9 L/100km – surprisingly, better than the Energuide highway rating – and approaching Roslin on Highway 34, it was down to 8.6 (33 miles per gallon).

I was impressed. As I’ve said before, the Grand Cherokee is a heavy, powerful truck, good for extreme off-roading and serious hauling; Fuel consumption of 8.6 L/100 km is outstanding for this type of vehicle.

Indeed it was raining along busy Highway 401, which follows the contours of the lake down to Toronto before continuing on to Windsor. Changing course to Niagara required enduring some heavy Toronto traffic before exiting to the Queen Elizabeth Way, and this coupled with increased speed (up 110-115 km/h), raised fuel consumption to 9.2 L/100 km over 509 km. This would be one of the first occasions, if not the first, that Autos met or exceeded an Energuide fuel consumption estimate.

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD. Click image to enlarge

Including about 200 km of local driving over three days in Niagara, the 1231 km round-trip from Ottawa to Niagara and back returned 9.7 L/100 km overall (according to the Jeep’s trip computer; 9.8 by my log book). Returning to Ottawa was uneventful and driven exclusively on the aforementioned multi-lane highway. The weather system I’d encountered on the way down had indeed clobbered the city with yet another record snowfall. Welcome home.

Overall, my experience driving the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel has demonstrated that you can affect fuel consumption by changing your driving style. Currently, it’s showing 12.8 L/100km from fuel-efficient city driving, which in my view is very acceptable for this type of vehicle. However, in the winter there are other factors that will have a negative effect on fuel economy that you can’t change. Examples are extreme cold weather, snow-covered roads, frequent stop-and-go driving, and unavoidable extended idling.

For the record, over 3,616 kilometers of mixed city/highway winter driving, this Grand Cherokee Diesel consumed 429 litres of fuel, returning 11.8 L/100 km “combined.”

When viewed as part of a bigger picture, it’s fair to conclude that your fuel consumption will vary over the course of the year. But fuel consumption can be improved, no matter what the external conditions, by modifying your driving style.

Toyota Camry Hybrid – By Grant Yoxon

2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

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2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Ottawa, Ontario – We set out to show how fuel efficient driving techniques could reduce fuel consumption, but we learned that perhaps the most significant factor affecting fuel consumption is weather.

A case in point: with almost ideal conditions, clear roads, temperature steady at six degrees Celsius and a strong tail wind, our Toyota Camry Hybrid easily beat its 5.7 L/100 km Energuide rating for highway fuel consumption – showing 5.3 L/100 km on the driver information display. As Paul noted in his introduction (http://www.autos.ca/articles/pw/energuide.htm), the Energuide highway-driving test simulates a 16-km drive on a clear summer day at 77 km/h. Yet I had the cruise control set at 110 on Ontario’s 401 highway and as anyone in Ontario knows, this ain’t summer! Having a bit of wind at your back can save you money.

But as I turned North onto highway 416 toward Ottawa, the wind direction, relative to the car, changed. Now it was a cross wind, hitting the car at about the 10 o’clock position. In less than 60 kilometres, fuel consumption increased to 5.8 L/100 km, based on the tank average, that is, the average fuel consumption for the tank of fuel currently in the car.

Viewing the real time fuel consumption gauge, I could see that my fuel consumption at any one moment was ranging from a high of 6.6 to more than 10 L/100 km depending on whether I was heading up or down a grade.

The Camry keeps you informed about fuel consumption in three ways – real time, displayed in a large gauge from zero to 30 L/100 km; tank average, displayed in the driver information display; and average since the car was last shut off, also displayed in the driver information display.

2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Since then, and after numerous short trips with a cold engine on slush filled Ottawa streets – yet still a half a tank of fuel from a fill up – the Camry is averaging 6.4 L/100 km, based on the tank average. And nothing I can do behind the wheel of the car seems to keep it from climbing steadily toward the sevens, which is what I averaged for the 5704 kilometres I drove the car – an average of 7.7 L/100 km.

The Toyota Camry Hybrid is capable of meeting and even exceeding its Energuide rating, but only when conditions are ideal, and in winter, conditions are usually anything but ideal. However, over the two months I drove the car, I became convinced that the fuel efficient driving techniques we employed – smooth driving, driving close to the speed limit, a light foot on the accelerator, pacing to avoid red lights, planning to reduce the frequency of stop signs and preparing early to stop when a stop light or stop sign is unavoidable – kept the fuel consumption from being worse than it was.

But what about the Camry Hybrid itself? What about the experience of driving a hybrid in winter?

It started easily every day. It handled the worst that winter could throw at it. It felt confident and stable in deep snow and on ice covered streets.

2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

The standard stability control worked well, preventing skids and, on one memorable occasion, prevented a severe accident when another driver pulled out from a side street without looking. Excellent brakes with ABS meant quick, straight stops, even on slippery surfaces.

It is rare that I test a car that everyone in my family likes, yet the Camry had something for everyone – great fuel economy and low emissions, comfortable leather equipped interior with climate control, a pleasing dash and centre stack layout and advanced features like the smart key system with pushbutton start. Even my six-foot four inch son had head and leg room to sit comfortably in the back seat. It was a great family car.

2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

I had a few quibbles. The climate control has an economy mode that turns down power robbing features like the high speed fan. It takes a bit longer to heat or cool the car, but you save energy that can be used to power the car. Economy mode shuts off whenever you switch the climate control out of automatic mode or turn on the windshield defroster. However, economy mode doesn’t return when the system is switched back to automatic. And the button to turn on economy mode is not located anywhere near the climate controls. Rather it is located to the left of the steering wheel above your knee and is placed right beside the button that opens the gas cap. It is also not lit, so you can’t see it at night.

I relied quite a bit on the fuel consumption indicators displayed in the driver information display. However, you can’t switch back and forth between the tank average indicator and the average since last stop indicator, rather you have to cycle through a half a dozen mostly unrelated displays (such as the outside temperature and odometer) to get the information you want. Cycling is done with a tiny button located on the steering wheel, right next to the voice command button that would be used if your cell phone was bluetoothed into the car. You probably shouldn’t be staring at the steering wheel controls while driving, but unless you want to talk to the Bluetooth lady – “say a command” – you don’t have much choice.

Bottom line: the Toyota Camry Hybrid provides big car ride and comfort, luxury car amenities and compact car fuel consumption. It’s a car that allows you to treat yourself well without treating the environment badly.

More Fuel Economy Challenge articles:
Introduction | December 11 update | January 7 update

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