The end result of the Autos 2008 50-litre Challenge
The end result of the Autos 2008 50-litre Challenge. Click image to enlarge

By Paul Williams

Discuss this story in the forum at CarTalkCanada

How far can we go?

The rising cost of fuel continues to make headlines, so here at Autos we thought it would make sense to run our “50-litre ChallengeTM” once more.

How time flies! Our first “50-litre ChallengeTM” took place three years ago, when gasoline was nudging one-dollar a litre, and consumers shook their collective heads in disbelief at that. Now, you don’t even want to think about where prices will go.

But consumers can have some control over how much they spend on fuel. Driving fuel-efficiently and driving fuel-efficient vehicles are the two weapons in the consumers’ arsenal, and they’re powerful weapons indeed. Maybe you can’t affect the price you pay per litre, but you certainly can affect the number of litres you need to buy. And you may be surprised at just how far you can drive a small car on a single tank of fuel.

To prove the point, as we did in 2005, we’ve lined up an example of every compact car on the Canadian market, which we’ll be driving on a predetermined route in convoy until they run out of gas. We’ll track when the “fuel” warning light comes on in each vehicle and where each car finally stops, and we’ll plot the results on a map so you can see where we drove, and how far.

This time we’re partnering with Motoring 2008, Canada’s longest-running automotive TV show, who will film the event as we traverse the highways and byways of Eastern Ontario. You’ll be able to see the event on TV and track it online at

Most of the cars in the 50-litre ChallengeTM have a 50-litre gas tank, which is one of the standards for vehicles in this class, and all of them can be purchased for under $20,000 new. So yes, economy is the name of the game. But we’re just not looking for economy; we’ll also be comparing comfort, roominess, exterior design, standard features and overall quality when discussing the vehicles.

The bottom line, though, is “How far can they go?” This year, many of the cars we’ll test are all-new. They have more standard safety equipment, they may weigh more (less fuel-efficient), but they have different engines and transmissions (more fuel-efficient).

Think you can guess which vehicle will go the farthest on 50 litres of fuel? Find the results from the 2005 50-litre Challenge, and check the specs in our Buyers Guide for the following vehicles.

  • Dodge Caliber
  • Ford Focus
  • Honda Civic
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Kia Spectra
  • Mazda3
  • Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Pontiac G5
  • Pontiac Vibe
  • Suzuki SX4
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Volkswagen City Golf

Three people who guess the longest-lasting vehicle and come closest to predicting the number of kilometres driven on 50-litres will win a card for $150 of fuel. Contest begins Friday, June 7, and ends June 21, 2008. Enter often!

The Autos 50-litre ChallengeTM will take place Saturday, June 14th, with results posted the following week.

Click here to enter the contest now!

Connect with