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Americans! Coming up on the next Top Gear USA: fuel economy and white water insanity
So we’re onto episode four of season three of Top Gear USA in America, and it’s a simple enough premise… What’s the best vehicle to take on a long trip - like a 700-mile trip - when you don’t want to stop for fuel? The hosts were told to show up in Portland, Oregon in the vehicle that would take them to San Francisco, CA on one slurp of juice.
Tanner, Rut and Adam chose three very different approaches. Tanner shows up with a spanking new BMW 528i. It features a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder, an 8-speed automatic transmission, and an Eco mode that combined returns an impressive 34 mpg highway rating—but can still do burnouts, drifts and such.
Rutledge embraced three of his favorite muses to choose his candidate: Craigslist, VW and diesel, in the form of a 1997 Volkswagen Passat TDi. It features good fuel economy, and more importantly, a monster fuel tank.
Adam applied Adam logic: choose a vehicle that gets 12 or so mpg, but boasts a fuel storage equivalence of over 50 gallons. A bi-fuel Ford F350 burning gas and… gas.
There’s a problem, however: none of these vehicles, at least on paper, has the range to make it to San Francisco. They’ll need to hope for a tailwind, a surfeit of downhills, divine intervention and employ Tanner’s Kryptonite, hypermiling, if any of them is to make it.
Enroute, the boys decide to engage in a coastdown challenge—all at once, on a wet and curvy mountain road. Maybe not legal, definitely not smart… but hope that good aerodynamics and low rolling resistance pay definite dividends.
A convenience store pit stop births another challenge: bladder capacity. The last to succumb to their body’s desire to jettison their respective beverages wins.
As the miles pile on the needles on their fuel gauges tickle “E”, the stresses of running on fumes causes the hosts to do different things: Rut gets hungry, Adam gets creative, and Tanner sets out on a solo vision quest through wine country.
A checkered flag waits at the end of a runway at the Alameda Naval Air base near San Francisco—and at the base of the checks sit a set of keys to an extraordinary truck. Whoever can grab those keys first gets to drive a wild race truck in Colorado against a world-class kayaker.
This Ultra 4, or King of the Hammers race truck, loosely based on a Ford Ranger (and when we say loosely, we mean that only the gas pedal remains), features 19 inches of clearance, almost a foot and a half of suspension travel and 450 horsepower. King of the Hammers machines need both the ability to crawl over the gnarliest of boulders—and then hit a jump in the desert at 100 miles per hour and fly 100 feet.
The race starts on a river situated at 9000 feet, ending at a mill 3000 feet below. The river, unsurprisingly, takes the most direct path down, and so will the kayaker: Adrenaline junky Eric “The Honey Badger” Boomer.
This race means 30-foot drops for the kayaker and 300-foot chasms for the King of Hammers beastie—first to make it to the bottom, alive, wins.
Tune in, American fans of the American Top Gear– it’s on History this Tuesday at 9/8 central. You can see older episodes on the History Channel Top Gear site and get breaking news on the Top Gear USA Facebook Page. Let us know what you think!