Harry’s Little Log Book

When we decided to move to the suburbs, we knew we’d need a car, and so in February of 2021, we purchased a 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring!

Harry’s Little Log Book
Riding the bus in Long Island

One of my childhood memories is that my grandfather used to keep a little spiral bound notebook in the glove compartment of his cars. There was a little gold pen clipped to the notebook’s back cardboard. In the notebook was a log of every single trip to the gas pump. He recorded the mileage, the date, how many gallons he purchased and the price. If someone borrowed the car, they’d not only be responsible for returning the car filled with gas, but they’d also need to be sure to log their own fill-ups.

I figured he used this data to keep an eye on the gas mileage. I never once saw him remove it from the car, or do any kind of math on the numbers. To be honest, I think he probably just did it out of habit—maybe something his father did. So, when we purchased a car last year, I realized it was something I wanted to do too—a little reminder of the simple habits we do for no real reason at all, and a little reminder of my Grandpa Harry.

Up until March of last year, my wife and I had been living in Brooklyn, New York. I’d been there for a decade and she’d been there even longer. We were city people, through and through. Neither of us had cars, and we both relied heavily on public transportation, Ubers, taxis, ZipCars and an occasional rental to go on a weekend excursion (which I’d have to take an Uber to LGA to pick up). When we decided to move to the suburbs, we knew we’d need a car, and so in February of 2021, we purchased a 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring!

Since it’s been a little over a year, I thought I’d share some of the stats from my version of Harry’s Little Log Book. For my version, I decided on a free app called Fuelly to track my mileage. It’s simple enough, helps you monitor the mileage easily, and most importantly, I can export the data.

The Car

Since taking delivery of the car we’ve driven 6,600 miles and have pumped 225 gallons of gas! It’s not a lot of miles, considering we share the car, but we primarily use it to get around town, drop off and pick up our son at daycare, and to take occasional trips into the city or out east to visit family. It’s a true grocery-getter! Besides the gas, we’ve had two complementary oil and filter changes in the past year, as well as one tire rotation. Other than that, it’s been maintenance free.

The CR-V Hybrid is pretty nice. It’s very comfortable and fits the three of us with ease. It has plenty of room for all our stuff or all our groceries, and the Touring model is nicely appointed with leather seats and some kinda fake wood trim.

When we were shopping for a car, I really liked the idea of a Hybrid. I didn’t like the all electric options at the time because they all seemed extremely expensive and limited. This hybrid seemed like a good stop-gap between 2021 and sometime in the future when we get our next car, which I am guessing will be all electric.

My only complaint about the car is its very poorly designed infotainment system. It’s very slow, has an almost painful interface, and the Apple CarPlay, which is its only sort of saving grace, constantly goes black and stops working whenever it wants to. I guess when you’ve become used to the UX design of Uber, “Honda Link” just doesn’t quite cut it!

The Data

Taking a look at the raw data from Fuelly, you can pretty quickly see just how boring our driving habits are. Aside from a slight uptick around the holidays where we went on a road trip to Maryland and visited family on Long Island, our driving has been pretty linear.

I’ll also mention that I filled the car all the way up at each and every visit to the gas station. In almost all cases I waited until we were on empty to fill it up, except for the morning of our road trip, when I topped it off before we left for Maryland and before we left to drive back to New York. Other than those two smaller fill-ups we had 19 full refuels throughout the year. Also, the car came with a full tank of gas and only 4 or 5 miles already on the odometer.

Mileage

One of the big factors in choosing the CR-V Hybrid was that Honda claimed it would get up to 40mpg in the city and 35mpg on the highway. I think we got pretty close, but let me walk you through what I observed.

For the first few months, we did pretty good, consistently hitting between 30 and 35mpg. In fact, it seemed to get better as time went on. In May I switched from 87 octane to 93 octane to see if it would go even higher. However, the higher octane really didn’t seem to make a difference that I could noticeably see in the data. It just remained up and around 35mpg pretty consistently. I also had some fun in the first few months getting to know the car and playing with the “EV Mode” and “Econ” buttons. The EV mode button shifts the car from being a hybrid to EV only. The problem is, whenever the car thinks it needs its combustion engine, it will cancel EV mode. This happens when you step on the gas, or when it’s cold and the car is trying to heat up the cabin. But, I figured if I just remembered to keep pressing EV Mode, it might trend toward using the battery more often than if I didn’t. After a couple months of doing this I just gave up and decided to not worry about it. The Econ button basically makes the car super sluggish and weird, so I stopped pressing it after the first few drives.

You can see in the chart that something starts happening around November. We were pretty consistent for a while and then all the sudden the mileage is all spikes and dropping. My only explanation is the car suffers in the cold months, prioritizing the combustion engine to keep the cabin warm more often than in the summer. We also tend to warm the car up before driving each morning, and I think we just drive a little harder when the weather is bad.

Then around the road trip we saw a spike back up to 36mpg, and then all the way down to 18mpg in February when it was really cold. It’s March now, so I am hopeful we will start to see the mileage crank back up with the warmer temps, but we shall see!

Costs

In the news these days we are reading all about gas prices. It hurts me that the price of a gallon of gas has become this measuring stick for the state of the economy in this country. The other day I saw a young woman standing in front of a gas station in the next town over, waving a sign that said “Stressed at the pump? Vote Republican.” There are some things in this world I don’t think I’ll ever understand.

But, I understand this chart. When we got the car we were paying about $3 per gallon for 87 octane and now we’re paying around $5 for 93. I’ll probably switch back to 87 and see what happens!

To get a sense of real “cost” I prefer to look at the “cost per mile” chart, which takes into account the gas mileage throughout the year. It’s also been trending up lately, but at least our road trip kind of evens it out. This measure of cost reminds me to be a little bit gentler on the pedal, and to hit that EV Mode button more often. It reminds me of all the road trips I want to take this summer, and how we can try and be a little bit sensible, and still own a car.

The Numbers

Over the course of a year we drove about 6,600 miles and used 225 gallons of gas (not including our first free tank!). This cost us $852 which is equivalent to $3.78 per gallon or $0.14 per mile. We averaged 27.85 miles per gallon. I bet Grandpa Harry could have fit our entire dataset on one slip of paper in his little notebook. Personally, I like charts!

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