And yet, after putting more than 2,200 miles on our long-term 2015 Subaru WRX, driving from Ann Arbor, MI, to The Great State of Maine and back, my overall fuel consumption figures were almost as baffling as the premium-gasoline prices throughout Canada.
In the early part of the now-past autumn, my wife Molly and I were happy to make use of the long-term WRX for our annual road trip from Michigan to Maine. Our goal, as ever, was to fit as much hiking, boating and lobster eating as we could into a one-week span. And, with the sporting Scoobie as our ride this time, I also hoped to spend time bombing down some of my favorite roads through the White Mountains.
Anyone that pays attention to the industry knows that New England is a hot spot for Subaru sales, but it turns out that the WRX is just about tailor made for enjoying the best of Maine, too.
First up, though – as it was the most surprising to me – is the fuel economy story. I knew going into the trip that I'd log more than two grand on the odometer, but I never expected the returns to be quite so positive as they ended up netting out. My total observed economy over 2,226 miles was 28.38 miles per gallon, or just a fraction better than the EPA estimated highway number of 28 mpg.
How'd I do that?
Well, for starters, the stretch of Canadian highway between Michigan and Vermont is exceptionally long, flat, straight and dull. Excepting the inevitable traffic around Toronto, the trip is mostly of the "set it and forget it" variety, typically at a cruise of about 72 miles per hour (so as not to attract the Mounties). Doing that haul, I had one tank of premium (15.9 gallon capacity) last for 466 miles, running a trip-best 31.9 mpg. Considering that the Canadian petrol was running me roughly five American bucks per gallon, I appreciated the Subie's newfound frugality.
My total observed economy over 2,226 miles was 28.38 miles per gallon.
One small issue, tangentially related to fuel, did crop up on the road. The WRX's gas door stopped popping open when I pulled the lever after my second fill up. As it turned out, there is a technical service bulletin out for this very issue, which was looked after as soon as we got back to the States. For the rest of the trip, it just made opening the door a two-person job, which was annoying. Editor Greg Migliore shows this annoying little quirk in the video, here.
Overall, I spent about $320 on gasoline for the trip, which is a pretty cheap way to see the world, and not as much as I could have thrown down on the lobster roll and beer budget if Molly had looked the other way.
The mpg numbers took a dip as the roads and landscape grew more rugged, of course, which is no bad thing considering how much fun the roads were to traverse.
My in-laws have a stunning 'camp' (their terminology, not mine) near Weld, ME, which is not a place I'd ever have found on my own, nor one that many other people seem to have discovered, but one that ticks all the boxes just the same. I had to pick my way carefully up the winding dirt road that ends at the camp's front door – calling the surface "gravel" would seriously undersell some of the boulders that comprise it – but I managed it with a careful eye and only a couple of underbody scrapes.
Though my father-in-law Virgil would disagree with me, I didn't find the WRX terribly punishing, either. I've got a high tolerance for stiff suspensions, it's true, but only the very worst roads, at high speeds, caused me to flinch a bit before I slowed down. Driving fatigue over the total trip was lower than expected, if a bit higher than I'd have seen in more of a traditional cruiser, I'm sure.
There doesn't seem to be a straight bit of road in the whole state.
From our camp base, we struck out on bent back roads with huge crowns, spending days hiking up the mountains that dot the area, and taking a few days furlough back to civilization out on the Atlantic coast. The great part of all of those trips is that there doesn't seem to be a straight bit of road in the whole state; I pushed the turbo hard in open bits just to stick, limpet-like to the fast-approaching corner that inevitably followed. Lumber trucks were passed, third gear was in high cotton and my smiles only abated long enough for me to stick something delicious into my mouth. Vacationland, indeed.
With the unrelenting Michigan winter fast approaching, it makes me smile again to remember spending the last really warm fall days in a fantastic spot, with people I love and a car I can't get enough of. The snowy weather brings with it the promise of Subaru-based fun on snow tires though, so let's give three cheers to four seasons.