Repeat after me, I must not play fuel light bingo in areas with no cell phone coverage and 80 degree heat outside. I wish I could say this is the first time a good friendship was challenged as we covered West Texas. 51 miles away from gas in the direction of travel with an indicated range of 36 miles, my companion and eventual owner of this car was understandably perturbed. We turned back and with minimum admonishment we refueled and got milkshakes from Sonic and are now back on our original route, hopefully in the correct direction.
Earlier, we stopped in Lockhart at Smitty’s Barbecue for an incredible lunch. This is the most authentic barbecue joint I have ever clapped eyes on. Massive pits with open wood fires smoking everything from brisket to hot links and every part of the pig you can think of. Served on paper with white bread, crackers, we gorged ourselves on smoky, fatty, crispy, chewy, moist meat products until our livers groaned whilst feeding the inevitable onset of gout at a later age. Well worth the trip, some of the best cue i’ve had.
Problem is these two detours have put us seriously behind schedule and as of 9pm CST we still have some 545 miles to cover to reach our originally planned destination. The upside is that this is what this car was made for, mile eating even if she is a bit of a dipsomaniac, but with one fundamental flaw. The fuel tank is tiny, barely 16.5 gallons and combine that with a 20mpg thirst we’re faced with more fuel stops than first thought, all screwing with the timetable.
I took the wheel after lunch and have spent enough freeway miles with this monster to realize this is one very well engineered car. It is cosseting yet sharp as a tack when it comes to the curves, with a very well sorted traction control system making you feel like a much better driver than you probably are.
I’ve always maintained that cars have a natural cruising speed which is where for any given open stretch of road, the car will find itself at if you let it. For example, the Mk2 Ford Mondeo 1.8LX that I often got years ago as service loaners would amble their way upto 110mph and stay there if you let your mind wander for a moment. This car has that and I found it very easily when a rented Chrysler 200 wanted to act as front marker for a spirited run at near Mondeo speeds and since then my trip was spent with the cruise control engaged to avoid accidental excursions north of a ton. This car never seems to run out of power reserves. Intoxicating.
The question now is do we power through, stock up on red bull and sugar and make it to Arizona as planned or do we fall short and stay in El Paso? There is at least one more fuel stop tonight and we’ll get to where we do but right now chewing through rural Texas bathed in pale blue ambient LED lighting and with a lightly refrigerated bottom is not a bad place to be.