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Chrysler Cars From Helsinki to the Arctic: Gas Mileage Test by Auto Bild Suomi

Dodge Avenger and DOdge Journey

arctic circleOne strong motivation for our consumption test was the low average consumption readings achieved by the British couple John and Helen Taylor in a Jeep Patriot and a Jeep Compass from the British Isles to Berlin. On the roads of continental Europe they achieved the excellent consumption rates of 4.18 and 4.25 litres in their compact SUVs.

We wanted to test the Americans’ performance in the more challenging conditions of the Finnish winter, so we chose the Arctic Circle north of Rovaniemi as our destination. The test in Finland became even more colorful than expected, because the fleet included three cars with manual transmission and one dual-clutch transmission vehicle; the power source in three cases was a 2-litre Volkswagen-based turbodiesel, while one was powered by a 2-litre petrol engine. Both the manual and the dual-clutch transmission cars had six gears.

The petrol engine was a so-called "world engine", built in partnership with Mitsubishi and Hyundai. This 2-litre 16-valve motor used Dual VVT technology, meaning the timing of the intake and exhaust valves is controlled electronically. The manual transmission has five gears, in which the ratio of the highest gear is long.  

A particularly spicy point is that all four American cars are robust in terms of mass, a feature that adds real challenges to the competition. A lot of people probably have confused ideas about the driving economy of American cars, so we decided to find out what consumption rates could ideally be achieved with this trio of marques.

Advance preparations for economical driving 

sebring and patriot

Before setting out, we asked our advisor, the champion of economical driving Markku Lehisto, about the basics of driving economically. The clear guidelines of Markku's advice were fresh in our memories during the drive. Our test squad consisted of this magazine’s editorial team members Juha Koski and Juha Peltonen plus Timo Kokkonen and Osmo Hagelberg from Chrysler Finland Oy. None of the test squad had had previous training from anything like economical driving courses or any experience worth mentioning in tests of economical driving. Koski and Peltonen did drive from Helsinki to North Cape in autumn 2004, also with the aim of minimising fuel consumption. At that time, an Audi A8 4.0 V8 TDI achieved a consumption rate of 6.82 litres.

Auto Bild logoIn addition to the drivers, the cars were also prepared for the consumption test. Let's start the examination with the engine oil, for which all the test vehicles used Mobil 1 ESP Formula, viscosity 5W/30. This is a capable, low-friction oil precisely for the conditions required for economical driving, for example. Before the test, each car was fitted with a new, standard model air filter, as the individual cars already had some kilometres behind them. The tire pressure was then increased to precisely 3.0 bar (43.5 psi). This is about 0.5 bar more than the recommendation for snow tires in normal use. The brakes were serviced to make them more sensitive. This is an operation that should be performed in general at intervals of one year or 30,000 km to prevent the brakes from dragging. The car’s wheel alignment was adjusted or inspected to make sure that the toe ins were as close to zero as possible. In this respect as in others, we stuck to the advisory figures supplied by the manufacturer. The tires used on all cars were low roll-resistance and thus economical Nokian Hakkapeliitta R studless wintertires, the size according to type for each car, with 17-inch wheel size for all.

The convoy leaves Helsinki

autobildThe first fueling-up was at 07.15 in the morning at the Shell station in Konala, after which we made an urgent warm-up route to the Neste fuel station in Malmi. This involved an extremely slow and meticulous filling-up all the way to the filler tube, which took several minutes per car. Slow filling is essential to make sure that the tank is filled to the brim, avoiding air pockets. How arduous this is varies according to the car and the fuel.

With an eye to economical driving, we also made other inspections. Heater blower speed was set to minimum for the duration of the test and the fuel-guzzling air-conditioning was turned off. In dry, frosty weather, the windows stayed clear easily. The radio was played at a moderate volume so that the high-powered amplifiers would not boost consumption needlessly.

Near the city of Lahti, Orimattila, the Avenger typically ran at 1500 revolutions/min. A great thing about this car’s DCT-dual-clutch transmission was using manual sixth gear to dodge the consumption-boosting ruts in the road. The speed was an economical 75-80 km/h (47-50 mph). The slightly higher tire pressures were barely noticeable on the road in the Avenger or the others. At city of Järvenpää, according to the average economy display at vehicle information center, we hit 4.9 l/100 km (48 mpg) and by city of Mäntsälä we were at 4.8 l/100km, and soon after 4.7 l/100km. The consumption at the start for the Avenger was over 6 litres at a hundred, but before Lahti the Avenger’s consumption had already dropped to 4.5 litres (52.3 mpg).

fuel economy

On the Helsinki-Lahti stretch there is a slight rise nearly the whole way, towards Salpausselkä. Fortunately, though, there was also a few good downhill stretches. The road surface was dry and the driving conditions were good. The navigator’s TMC system has no problems to announce along the route other than a couple of roadworks. There were heavy clouds and the sky was grey.

As we reached Lahti, the Avenger passed 4.4 l/100 km (53.4 mpg) according to the drive computer. Immediately after Lahti, we carried out a test with the cruise control on the Avenger: would consumption drop with this to 4.3 litres per hundred? But driving with cruise control on raised consumption to 4.5 litres in this case. We turned it off to be on the safe side.

After Lahti, there were the beginnings of a little slush on the road. The 50 km stretch before Joutsa is a roadwork section.  We reached Joutsa on the first day on the road at 11 am. From Joutsa north towards Jyväskylä we could see snowy trees and handsome forest scenery, like there used to be on the Finnish Fazer chocolate box lid. The dry road surface made for fine driving.

Before Viitasaari, we wondered if all four cars would have enough range to reach the Arctic Circle. On the Sebring, for instance, the range still had 780 km left and the Journey had 1,100 km. On the Viitasaari-Oulu stretch Journey’s consumption was shown on the drive computer’s display as 5.3 litres per hundred (44.4 mpg).

Towards Rovaniemi. After a break for the night, we started out from Oulu towards the Arctic Circle, the ending point for the test. The Oulu-Kemi stretch starts as a motorway, soon taking us over the Oulujoki River. The weather was still dry, so the driving was nice but we still had heavy cloud and the northern twilight was strongly with us. Towards Kemi the motorway gave way to a wide-lane road, where it was good to let others pass. Dusty snow rose from the road surface but not so much as to be a nuisance.

Towards Kemi a long, lethal uphill stretch begins, so now we were really excited to see if the Patriot in sixth gear was able to keep to a 4.9 l/100 km average reading. At last, as Rovaniemi approaches, consumption dropped to 4.8 l/100 km on the drive computer screen, in spite of the tough hills just outside Rovaniemi.

The convoy drove over the very wide and fast-flowing Kemijoki River. If you’re in these parts and fancy a snack, you should try out the exotic at least from the Southern Finnish viewpoint reindeer burgers or reindeer pizzas.

Reaching the Arctic Circle

We arrived in the city centre of Rovaniemi and stopped at two red traffic lights. After crossing the river, the road began to rise towards the Arctic Circle. The rise is long and sharp enough and the drive computer’s average consumption rose again after falling a couple of decilitres on the last Kemi-Rovaniemi leg.

We turned into the Shell station on the Arctic Circle after driving 841.4 kilometres and begin refilling our tanks in a state of excitement. Once again, we filled our cars all the way at a gentle pace. We drove a short way and continued filling to make sure we have filled the filler tube, just as we did at the start. The Avenger swallowed another 1.5 and the Journey 2.5 litres. We began to count up our consumption rates.

The most economical of the squad achieved a result of 4.07 litres. The vehicle is the Dodge Avenger.

In second place in the economy drive was the Jeep Patriot with consumption of 4.54 litres.

In third place came the third diesel, the Dodge Journey, with a result of 5.3 litres.

In addition to the Avenger’s performance, another surprise in the squad came from the petrol-burning Chrysler Sebring, which managed on a meager 5.53 litres, a respectable accompaniment to its diesel-powered teammates.

We considered the results. The figures achieved with these cars: two average consumption readings beginning with 4 and two with 5 ? makes you think. They indicate the formidable potential for economy of the modern engine and car technology. These interesting results were achieved in spite of the fact that the cars used were not eco-friendly versions specially tuned for economy. The fact that the results were obtained with relatively sizeable American cars, among them a seven-seater people carrier and 4-wheel-drive small SUV, further shows that the image of American cars merely as gas-guzzlers is overdue for an update.


All engines displaced 2 liters. The diesel engines in the Avenger, Journey, and Sebring were Volkswagen-based with 1968 cc inline four-cylinder engines, with a 140 hp (103 kW) rated peak output at 4,000 rpm and maximum torque of 229 lb-ft at 1,750 rpm. The gas engine in the Patriot was the 1998 cc “World Engine” with a peak 156 hp (115 kW) at 6,300 rpm and peak torque of 140 lb-ft (190 Nm) at 5,100 rpm.

  Dodge Avenger Dodge Journey  Chrysler Sebring Jeep Patriot 
Tires 215/60R17 215/60R17 215/60R17 215/60R17
Trunk 452 liters 155/783/1486 liters 452 liters 320/1357 liters
Length/width/height 4850/1843/1497 4888/1878/1691 4850/1843/1497 4408/1785/1658
Curb weight 1670 kg 1975 kg 1555 kg 1685 kg
0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) 10.5 seconds 10.9 seconds 10.7 seconds 11.0 seconds
Top speed 203 km/h
(126 mph)
188 km/h
(117 mph)
190 km/h
(118 mph)
189 km/h
(118 mph)
EU liters/100km 6.7 6.3 7.8 6.7
Seats 4 seats 7 seats 4 seats 5 seats
Model notes SXT; dual-clutch auto SXT; manual Touring; manual Limited
Engine Diesel Diesel Gasoline Diesel
Total consumption 4.07 l/100km 5.30 l/100km 5.53 l/100km 4.54 l/100km
Total consumption, mpg 57.8 mpg 44.4 mpg 42.5 mpg 51.8 mpg
EU highway rating 5.5 l/100km 6.1 l/100km 5.4 l/100km 5.1 l/100km
EU highway rating, mpg 43 mpg 39 mpg 44 mpg 46 mpg

Total driving time 12:03:19 h, average speed 70.11 km/h

For the duration of the test, we raised the pressure in the Nokian R studless winter tires to 3.0 bar. The marking, ultra low rolling resistance, on the sides of the tires indicates they are just the thing for economical driving.

autobild - chrysler teams

We went to see Santa Claus in his den. Left to right: Auto Bild Suomi’s Juha Koski, Santa Claus, Auto Bild’s Juha Peltonen, and Chrysler Finland’s Osmo Hagelberg and Timo Kokkonen.

Economical driving champion Markku Lehisto’s 10 tips for economical driving:

markku lehisto1. Accelerate briskly to the speed you want. Upshift by the time you reach the engine’s peak torque.

2. Use a high enough gear. With modern engines, the torque zone begins at low revs.

3. Drive at a steady speed.

4. Anticipate traffic conditions. Avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking.

5. You can use cruise control on even sections of road.

6. Avoid ruts and uneven areas on roads.

7. Use engine inertia for braking. This cuts the fuel feed [with manual and dual-clutch transmissions - ed.].

8. If you have to stop for more than half a minute, stop the engine.

9. You can negotiate small uphill sections most economically by letting the speed fall a little.

10. For larger and longer uphill sections, it’s good to accelerate in advance.

Thanks to Juha Koski and Juha Peltonen, Auto Bild Suomi and to Timo Kokkonen for this well-researched article and for providing us with permission to reprint it.

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