‘Green Car’ convoy rolls through Vail | VailDaily.com

‘Green Car’ convoy rolls through Vail

Scott N. Miller smiller@vaildaily.com

VAIL – Here’s the good news: You can buy, right now, a five-passenger sport utility vehicle with a 7,700-pound tow rating that gets more than 25 miles per gallon on the highway. The bad news? It costs $50,000.

The SUV in question is the Volkswagen Toureg with a turbo-diesel V6 engine under the hood. The big Vee-Dub was part of a three-day rolling exhibit of “green cars” put on by the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association. The convoy – which had the Toureg, a mid-sized VW Jetta diesel, the most fuel-efficient version of Ford Focus compact and a Honda Odyssey minivan – drove from Denver to Montrose along mountain roads, then from Montrose to Grand Junction, then back toward Denver along Interstate 70.

The group – Tim Jackson of the dealers’ group, along with automotive journalists Dan Buxbaum, Mike Cotsworth and Don Bain – made a brief stop at the Vail Golf Club Monday, with the drivers happy to talk about their real-world experiences with the cars.

All four were impressed with the diesel-powered cars – “It goes uphill like a goat and goes downhill like a slot car,” Bain said of the Jetta. But the gas-powered cars made an impression, too.

The Ford, which has a government fuel economy rating of 40 miles per gallon on the highway, was returning real-world mileage in the high 30s. That’s pretty good, when you factor in the elevation and the fact that the group wasn’t exactly following Shell Fuel Economy Challenge protocols about gentle driving.

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“We filled up in Montrose, and we got all the way to Parachute before the gas gauge budged off full,” Buxman said.

But the big Honda might have had the most tricks up its sleeve. The seven-passenger minivan, which uses engine-management technology that will shut down up to three of the engine’s six cylinders in steady-state driving, was delivering real-world fuel economy of almost 28 miles per gallon.

The idea of the caravan was demonstrating to consumers that decent-to-outstanding fuel economy is possible in a range of vehicles.

The Honda was also sporting new vinyl graphics touting the Clear the Air Foundation, an effort by the dealers’ group to get older, dirtier cars off the road. Jackson said modern cars are 99 percent cleaner than cars made even 25 years ago. And last year, the foundation took about 170 cars off the road.

“Every old car we take out of service is like taking 100 newer cars out of service,” Jackson said. “And that’s taking ozone and other pollutants out of the air.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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