gen-x chronicles

gas prices and gps stuff


Just ordered a second Garmin Drive 52.

Before I get into that, yeah I've never seen gas prices this high in my life. And I currently live in a state where the gas prices are some of the lowest in the country.

Years ago I used to own a big stupid truck, and lived through when the gas prices spiked in 2008. Right then and there I said "never again", and when I was able to, I got rid of that stupid truck and bought a small car that averaged 27 MPG. After that, I traded that out and got another small car with even better fuel economy, which is what I drive now. If I'm really light on the gas pedal I can get 40 MPG average out of it. I usually average 34 to 36.

An immediate indicator that gas prices are too high is when I see those who own thirsty SUV luxury barges and big stupid trucks driving really slowly - especially when they take off from a stop light. As for me, I can zip right by, because even if I drive with a heavy right foot, at absolute worst I'm still averaging 33 MPG at lowest.

Back when the '08 gas crunch hit and I was driving that big stupid truck, I quickly learned hypermile driving techniques. I learned DWB (driving without brakes), how to coast whenever possible, did a lot of map study to avoid stop signs and traffic lights to keep moving, and so on. The best MPG average I ever got out of that stupid truck was 27 when ordinarily it would get 18 or 19.

I already know electric cars won't save us. Not a chance in hell. Hybrid is what to go for. Tested, proven, works. When I get my next car, I'm getting a Toyota Prius. But I won't buy one until the gas prices go down, because I remember a few funny things that happened with cars in '08.

Geo Metro XFi. Yeah, that thing. Prior to the '08 crunch, that car, at best, was worth $1,000. Maybe $2,000 if it was in really nice near-mint condition. That was the car that could achieve 46 to 50 MPG all day long. It was a tin can that people made fun of all the time. But when the crunch hit, the car was suddenly valuable and somebody sold one for $7,200. Yes, they did.

Whenever gas is cheap, people make fun of the little cars and happily drive their luxury barge truck and SUV highway princesses. But when gas is expensive, the barge drivers change their tune real quick. It's not the fill-up cost that's the problem but the cost-per-mile. At $5/gal, the luxury barge highway princess costs 28¢ per mile driven. With the small car, 14¢. That doesn't sound like much until you add up some miles. 300 miles driven in the princess barge is $84 spent, and the same miles for the small car is $42.

I knew at some point another gas crunch was coming, and it's here. When gas prices are low, my car is seen as the dorkmobile. But right now it's seen as desirable. Barge drivers look at my car, and think, "I really should have bought one of those." I know this because that's what I thought back when I was driving a stupid truck and gas prices were high. I would see those little cars and think, "When I can, I'm getting one of those", and did. Fortunately, I bought one when gas prices were real cheap and nobody wanted them.

Now for GPS stuff.

I've been using Garmins for over 15 years. Never used a modern infotainment system with navigation, nor do I want to because those systems suck. Briefly tried using a smartphone for navigation and nope, terrible. Doesn't matter what app it is, they're all bad. However, I do have a nav app loaded on my phone just in case I ever need it. The one I have uses OpenStreetMap and has 100% offline support, so even if I'm in an area where I can't get data or even a cell phone signal, the app will still work since it only requires GPS a.k.a. "Location" to operate properly.

In my collection I have a bunch of Garmins. Over 20 of them. The one I use as my daily is the Drive 52, which is the last old style model since the new ones are unfortunately terrible. I like it enough to where I thought yeah, I need a backup, so I bought a second one off eBay. My first one was new, and the one coming in (I've not received it yet) is used. Hopefully it will work okay.

Using a Garmin is similar to driving a small car in the respect that they're dorky/uncool until actually needed. When in an area where the cell and data signal is strong, everybody loves their smartphones and wouldn't use anything else. But when that signal isn't there, and/or that wonderful app crashes and burns because of yet another needless "update", and/or the service the app connects to breaks as it periodically will, that's when a Garmin suddenly becomes awesome to have because it actually works. There are only three things required to make a Garmin work right. Always use a Garmin charger to power it, don't let it cook in sunlight too long else it will overheat, and reboot it once an hour on longer journeys (not necessary for in-town driving). That's it.

There are only three reasons I use a Garmin Drive 52 and not an older model. Fonts, screen and Turns.

Fonts on the 52 are large. Not quite as good as the nuvi 2599 (the fonts on that one are perfect), but still very legible.

The screen on the 52 is the brightest resistive matte Garmin ever made which is at the same level as their capacitive glossy (again, see nuvi 2599) and can truly be read during bright daylight driving.

The Turns feature was introduced in 2016 (unfortunately after the 2599, a 2014 model) and it's something people wish existed on their smartphone nav apps. What this feature does is that while navigating, you see the map, on-map route arrow, next turn info at top, and the next four turns after that on the right. This is incredibly convenient, and only a later model Garmin can do it.

That Turns list feature is what keeps me using the 52 more than anything else. I see everything I need to know without having to touch the screen. On older models, a tap of the top green bar is required to see the turns list.

There's another thing Garmins have had since 2013 that the vast majority of smartphone nav apps don't. Text information at bottom stating the current road you're driving on. Whether navigating or not, if the Garmin is on, the current road is displayed at bottom. Very convenient. There are times I just want to know which road I'm on, and a quick glance at the screen tells me that instantly. I've only seen 2 phone nav apps that have a similar feature. One paid, one free, both suck.

I'm going to stick it out with my Garmins for as long as possible, because the alternatives are awful.

gen-x chronicles