We're in a 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid a few hundred feet away from our hotel in the heart of Georgetown during rush hour, sweat dripping off our faces, our necks, and legs, visibly soaking our clothes. D.C. is experiencing a heat wave, but we've got the windows rolled up and the air conditioning off.
"Let's roll down the windows," I beg.
"Stay strong--we're so close," my driving partner urges.
But I'm dehydrated and my heart is beating as though I've been working out when all I've been doing is stewing in stop-and-go traffic. Reprieve is only a few minutes away in the form of a cooled hotel lobby, and yet I feel I could faint before that point. This competition of suffering will end when we get to the hotel and Lincoln's marketing team logs our average gas mileage for the 24-mile hypermiling challenge, which is slipping from its peak of 52 mpg down to 50. That we are doing this at all is ridiculous. We are two 30-something automotive writers sous-viding ourselves in our own sweat inside the enclosed cabin, all for the chance to win an HD radio and bragging rights.
It's not worth physical injury, I finally decide. I roll down our windows and expect the gauge that monitors the accessory load to skyrocket and our gas mileage to plummet. Nothing happens. We coast into our hotel driveway at the same gas mileage as we had when we were marinating in our self-created steam room, 52.2 mpg. All that suffering for nothing.
When the hypermiling challenge was proposed to us that morning in an air conditioned meeting room in National Harbor, the temperature had not swelled to the forecasted 93 degrees, so the competition seemed easy enough, … Read more