Deep Backward Point

Of all the popular numbers, miles per gallon is a bit of a liar. It doesn’t say what many people think says.

Take three cars. The Honda CR-V gets 20mpg, the Honda Civic 30 mpg and the Insight gets 40mpg. So the Insight is 10 better than the Civic. The Civic is 10 better than the CR-V. Simple, right?

Wrong. Let’s flip the number around to gallons consumed per 100 miles. Now the CR-V costs 5 gallons to get to 100 miles, the Civic 3.3 and the Insight 2.5.

The Insight is still better than the rest, but not by as much. When judging about cost-effectiveness, the gallons/100 miles is a better number.

What you hold constant at 100 matters. Holding the number of miles constant at 100 is a better way of understanding performance, because it maps well with reality– your commute distance, the distance to the mall…

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