How efficient can a full-size sedan from a decade ago really be?

I will shout this from every mountain top until I die. The W-Body is the perfect combination of fuel economy, value, and performance.

26w ago

If you're familiar with my posts then you'll know that I have an unhealthy obsession with GM's W-Body cars. Not only do I believe them to be the kings of the front-wheel-drive game, but I also believe them to be some of GM's most unsung cars. I'm on my second one currently, a 2008 Buick LaCrosse that I bought at the start of the pandemic thanks to my stimulus check from good ole Donnie. I have had a worry free 5,000 miles so far, with the exception of a new battery that I had to put in after I started driving it reguarly.

Under the hood is the creme de la creme of GM's engines, the 3800 Series III. This 3.8-liter, 200 horsepower and 230 lb-ft beast is an incredible piece of engineering. It's a big ole torquey engine with nothing fancy to its operation. The four-speed that its bolted to leaves a little to be desired, another gear would go a long way in these cars, but I digress. Story time.

My commute is about 100 miles roundtrip, and depending on how I drive, I tend to fuel up every three days or so. Well, last week I forgot to fill up before I got home, so I was sitting just above empty, so I filled the tank, reset my trip computer, and my fuel economy tracker and set off for work, but while I was filling up, I wondered what kind of gas mileage I could get if I genuinely focused on driving efficiently. So I set off gently and made a conscious effort to drive as conservatively as possible without putting the state of New Jersey in gridlock, as so many other drivers do on a daily basis.

It felt weird to not sit in the left lane and ride like the wind as I typically do, instead I was sitting in the middle lane with one eye on the tachometer and the other on the road. I think I went over 2,500 rpm to get over a bridge and one incredibly large hill, but other than that, I built up momentum and used it to get this full-size, 6-passenger leather-lined, faux soft top barge to an incredible 31 miles per gallon.

Should I have documented this moment at this exact point? No, but once I came to a stop, I hit 30.8 and realized I had to risk it for the biscuit. I was genuinely impressed. 31 miles per gallon highway puts this seemingly ancient full-size on par with modern vehicles like the Ford Escape, Jeep Compass, Mazda CX-30, and the Mercedes-Benz GLB250 in terms of fuel economy. Now, granted these vehicles are infinitely better equipped for commuting than my land-yacht, but I stand out in a parking lot, and that's all I really care about.

Now, I have to address a few things here. I was driving as slow as legally possible, because anyone that has driven in New Jersey knows that Speed Limits are more like suggestions than actual limitations. That and my brand new set of Continental TrueContact with EcoPlus definitely worked in tandem to create this rather remarkable result.

Still, I can add this result to the laundry list of reasons why GM's W-Body cars are some of the best all-round vehicles in the business, even if they are all out of production for some 10 years now. It was actually kind of interesting to drive a slow car slow for a change. Typically the logic is that driving a slow car fast is the best way to drive, and while I can agree with that completely, it was nice to change things up, and see just how efficient I could be. Don't worry fellow gearheads, I had the hammer down the whole way home.

What's the best fuel economy you pulled in a car? Comment Below!

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Comments (37)

  • Well, coming from Europe, I'm not impressed, but I would be lying not to admit a pretty good result for V6 barge with 200 PS and all the yankee torque you can get. So, thumbs up.

    Clio dCi - best 69 of your yankee MPG. Easy B road. Average around 50.

    Pretty much the same my current Peugeot HDi - first 5.000 km sincr new I have 49 on the board. And it gets 10 sec to 100 km/h and can do 190 km/h so sitting at 140-150 at our highways is pretty comfortable.

      5 months ago
    • And... I love that Buick, btw... Barges in general.

        5 months ago
    • I had a Fusion/Mondeo Hybrid for work before the pandemic and with my lead foot I still managed 48mpg. Thanks for the read and the compliment on my barge!

        5 months ago
  • I only sold my '97 Cadillac Deville a few years ago with 74k miles on it, and even with the 4.6L Northstar V8, I was still pulling 31 miles per gallon on the highway......and that was a proper land yacht. I could reach that number while sailing across the state at 74mph with no problems. To be fair, though, I replaced it with my '13 Audi A8L with the bi-turbo 4.0L, and with the APR tune, I could still reach between 31.5 and a 4600 lb car (the Caddy was lighter at 4000 lbs!). I may miss my Cadillac sometimes, but my Audi more than makes up for it.............Back on the Buick's been a great engine for years. Buick's main problem was making a transaxle that's worth a damn.........the old fix to this was to replace it with the Cadillac unit, which was beefier.

      6 months ago
  • Looks like a nice, comfortable car

      6 months ago
  • That's amazing!! My hybrid Fusion gets 38 mpg on the highway and a bit north of 40 mpg around town but 31 from your LaCrosse is excellent!

    Those 3800s, especially the Series II & III are apparently really tough engines from what I've read. I was *this* close to buying a 2004 Park Avenue Ultra once and still sometimes wish that I'd done the deed.

    Thanks for saying what tires you have. I'll keep those tires in mind when I replace the ones on my Fusion. 😊

      6 months ago
  • Loving Buicks is a lifestyle

      6 months ago
    • Or potential proof of the need for therapy.......take yer pick. I'm no better as I've loved ALL my cars, but I've owned some questionable choices..........the '74 Malibu comes to does the '72 Ventura.

        5 months ago