I’m writing today from my desk. In my home. With my lamps, and my couch, and my fuzzy purple blankets, which sound really tacky but go surprisingly well with the room.
This is a big deal. Really, it is. It’s a major departure from my last few submissions, which were all written the same way: hoisting my laptop above my head in a hotel room closet so I could reach the eleven square inches covered by the wireless Internet.
In other words: I’ve made it through the roadtrip alive.
“What roadtrip?” you ask, pretending that you did not see – and ignore – my last few posts about how I drove my Cadillac CTS-V Wagon across the entirety of the United States in order to sit in traffic at Monterey Car Week. Yes, that roadtrip. Now it’s over.
But before you can bid my V-Wagon roadtrip farewell and concentrate on reading something informative written by Travis (hah!), I’ve decided to write one last post summing up a few highlights of driving across the country – and back – in a 556-horsepower Cadillac with taillights the size of small children. Here goes.
Fuel By the Numbers
Everyone wants to know about fuel. Seriously, everyone. I know this because I get tweets and text messages and e-mails from people all over the country – all over the world – that say: How much fuel are you using? I have no idea why this is, because they already know the answer, which can be defined technically as “a lot.”
But to satisfy your curiosity, I’ll define it even more technically here. We drove 6,285 miles, which – for you metric Jalopnik users – is roughly 10,000 kilometers. In that time, we used 356.151 gallons of fuel, which – again converted for the metric folks – is about 87 kilopascals. This translates to 17.65 miles per gallon, or approximately 27 liters per sixpence.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Couldn’t you just type the conversions into Google rather than make up things like “liters per sixpence?” And unfortunately, the answer is no.
You may also be thinking: That sounds expensive! And, yes, it was. We paid an average of $4.05 per gallon, which means we spent a total of $1,440.85 on fuel. The car never made it more than 300 miles between fuel stops, hitting that number only once: from Salina, Kansas, to Columbia, Missouri.
The most expensive gas was in Big Sur, California, where a poorly-timed fuel stop meant I had to pay six bucks a gallon… for regular. The cheapest fuel was $3.52 per gallon in Yukon, Oklahoma, proving that gas prices directly correspond to an area’s desirability. (Do you hear that? That’s the sound of everyone in Yukon, Oklahoma, collectively boycotting my book.)
A few people have accused me of light-footing it, despite the fact that I just ended a 6,300-mile trip with a fuel economy average below 18 miles per gallon. I’m curious about these people. Do you believe the interstate highway system is a playground, where you just do burnouts and triple-digit speeds all the time? (These people are thinking: Uh… yeah. Duh?)
The truth is this: when you’re on a 6,300-mile roadtrip, you pace yourself. What I mean is, you have fun for the first hour or two, then you set your cruise control 10 over the speed limit and angrily curse every time a truck going 62 miles per hour pulls out in front of you so it can pass a truck going 61 miles per hour.
With that said, I did open it up a few times. I got above 150 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats, and my girlfriend had her first triple-digit experience there, too. And there may have been an incident in Kansas where a guy in a 535xi learned the silver station wagon doing 84 in a 75 zone shouldn’t be underestimated.
Aside from that, I kept things pretty reasonable. We drove through 17 different states and approximately seven million rural counties, all of which are hungry for revenue from out-of-staters driving expensive luxury cars. I wasn’t pulled over once, though I was briefly yelled at by a police officer in Pebble Beach who mistakenly thought “directing traffic for a car show” would be a stress-free way to earn some overtime pay.
Now that I’ve seen the entire country, minus the parts that don’t matter, such as Delaware, many people have asked me what I enjoyed the most. The true answer to this question is, of course, Monterey Car Week, but I can’t say that without sounding like a car-obsessed freak who drove 6,300 miles to look at some Ferraris.
So instead I will give a more diplomatic answer, which is that the diversity and vastness of the United States was a welcome and enjoyable delight on our splendid vacation. This covers up the fact that the best part of the trip, aside from car week, was seeing the “Welcome to Georgia” sign and knowing that, in a few hours, I would be wrapped up in my purple blankets watching Pawn Stars.
OK, fine, I have an actual answer to this question. The Grand Canyon was the most beautiful thing we saw. A close second was Monument Valley, followed by Big Sur and the Rocky Mountains. We enjoyed the Salt Flats, and we waded in to the Great Salt Lake. This turned out to be a huge mistake, because I can't tell this to anyone without hearing "Was it salty?" as a reply.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the desert in both Southern California and Nevada, where you can stop the car in the road, walk around for a while, and take in what has to be the most vast, empty land in the United States. Yosemite was a slight disappointment, largely because it smelled like an airport smoker’s lounge the entire time we were there.
We also loved the cities we spent time in: Laguna Beach, Aspen, and Monterey. Honorable mention goes to St. Louis, which is a surprisingly nice place considering that most people I know who grew up there hit the floor whenever they hear a loud popping noise.
And the Car?
Oh, yes. The car.
The car made it back in one piece. Mostly. The brakes feel like I’m driving over a rough pavement test course every time I try to slow down. They did for the entire trip. This is especially disappointing because I took it in a few days before I left, and not a word was said about brake wear.
The right rear tire is still leaking air. This is the second right rear tire that’s been leaking, which suggests that maybe I didn’t need to replace the first one. The car needs an oil change. And the plastic pieces that protect the lower part of the front bumper are hanging loose. The wagon is at the dealer right now for the fourth time since I bought it less than 60 days ago.
Of course, there’s a benefit to all this, namely that for the next few days I’ll be driving the world’s fastest Cadillac SRX.
This trip was a blast, and I highly encourage anyone considering a roadtrip to get out there, see the country, and have fun. Just remember that all this enjoyment may cost a few cubic centimeters of money. And for God’s sake, don’t stop in Big Sur for fuel.
Click here to see a really cool photo album of the car parked in front of things.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He operates PlaysWithCars.com and writes for The Truth About Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.