Warren Brown and Lou Ann Hammond chat about cars on www.washingtonpost.com October 3, 2014

Warren Brown and Lou Ann Hammond chat about cars on www.washingtonpost.com October 3, 2014

I have a newfound respect for truck drivers. I could never be a truck driver. It’s not because of the type of truck or car, but the actual gruel, the long haul of driving. As the holiday season gets closer, and we all want to buy more retail items, remember, everything you own that was bought in a store had to be in a truck at one point. Give your truckers a break on the road. If you see them wanting to get in your lane flick your lights at them to let them know you are making room for them and it is okay for them to come in. Every time you cut a trucker off the price of your retail item goes up because they have to use more fuel.

While Warren has been at the Paris Motor Show Stretch and I have been trucking across America. We left Toronto, Canada Tuesday in a Ram 2500 Promaster van filled with precious cargo that was bequeathed to us. As I write this we are in the Promaster with my wifi mobile five hours away from home.

Our goal was to figure out the road as we went. We were told that the Promaster would get around 13-14 miles per gallon. Not so. Our first day from Toronto to Des Moines, IA the first and we averaged 18.9 miles per gallon. That includes two hours of torrential downpour! And this is not the diesel version, it’s the 3.6 Pentastar.

It was when we hit the rains and the winds of Nebraska into Cheyenne Wyoming that we had our biggest dip in miles per gallon. We only average 13.6 mpg during that time, which gave us an overall 17.9 mpg for the trip.

The altitude of Utah and Nevada sent our mpg down a little lower. We didn’t want to burn up the engine so we kept the rpms below 3,000 going up the hills. It was easy to want to think we could just gun the van but we had almost 1,000 pounds sitting behind us. The last thing we wanted to do was burn the engine out in some desolated spot. Prudent

When we are driving around town we always use Waze and/or Google maps, even above the maps in the cars. The apps we used on the road were Google maps, GasBuddy, Yelp and hotels.com. We’ve been using the Tom Tom in the van to show the entire trip and Google maps for direction to restaurants or hotels.

Stretch and I try to stay away from fast food so it was important to get a decent meal but we didn’t want to go to far away from the highway. We were on a mission!

We decided to limit our hotel to under $70 and we found a hotel through hotels.com each night that was more than decent. BTW – if you have a AAA or AARP make sure you get that discount!

Yelp was where we went for places to eat. We found a great breakfast place called Menlo Cafe in Menlo IA and Pennys Diner in Rawlins, WY. Both were ranked high on Yelp and they were much better than fast food. Denise and Jody were so friendly at Menlo Cafe. I love that Denise gave me the recipe for her pork tenderloin crust that is in competition because I was from California and it wouldn’t matter if I told someone out there 🙂

GasBuddy was great for finding the best price for gas. The cheapest was in IA for $3.05 a gallon; the most expensive was $3.34. The rest of the places across the prairies were around $3.20 but that was because we shopped ahead of time.

We are having a great time in the Promaster. It’s so easy to handle and to drive. It has a great turning radius and drives even better when it’s loaded. We’ve only found a couple things about the Promaster – it’s hard to hear phone calls over the sound system and if you charge an extra battery, 2500mA, yikes! 😉 for your mobile devices, with one of two usb ports the vans display goes dark but the audio still works. I can live with both of those things when I can get 17-18 mpg instead of 13-14 mpg.

The difference between the two fuel economy figures is about 100 miles more per fill-up. That makes all the difference when you’re crossing fields where the antelopes play and you can go 50 miles without seeing a gasoline station.

At $3.20 per gallon every fill-up is $75.

If I’m traveling 2,500 miles and get 18 mpg I only have to fill up 6 times. At $3.20 a gallon that’s $460.

If I’m traveling 2,500 miles and get 13 mpg I have to fill up 8 times. At $3.20 a gallon that’s $614. Gasoline would have to be $2.39 a gallon to equal the 18 mpg I got.

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louann Warren Brown and Lou Ann Hammond chat about cars on www.washingtonpost.com October 3, 2014 Auto industry news Automobiles and Energy car buying tips Driving tips Food and Wine Travel & Leisure

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.