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In one of Top Gear’s more infamous (and yet informative) vehicle tests, Jeremy Clarkson pitted a Toyota Prius against a BMW M3 to see which car could get better gas mileage. The catch was, the Prius had to drive as fast as it could, while all the M3 had to do was keep up with the hybrid. The end result was the Prius got 17.2 mpg, while the M3 got 19.4 mpg. The point, according to Clarkson, is that it isn’t what you drive, but how you drive.

Now we can debate the merits of the video (posted below) all we want. But the point is, you can get decent mileage if you drive, well, gingerly. It isn’t easy, but Garmin, maker of GPS devices, has come up with a device called the ecoRoute hd. This device plugs into your car and calculates just how green you are driving, no matter what you are driving. It’s pretty cool, in a green, Big Brother sort of way.

All modern cars come with computers (cars made since 1996), and the ecoRoute hd takes advantage of this fact by plugging directly into your OBDII diagnostic port. The ecoRoute then syncs with your Garmin nuvi GPS device (sold separately, of course) and rates your driving based on how efficient your right foot is. It monitors things like engine load, RPM, average speed, acceleration, all things that factor into fuel efficiency. For those of us who really like to get into the nitty gritty of our cars, the ecoRoute hd also lets us monitor things like engine temperature, timing, and even engine diagnostic codes to get rid of those pesky “Check Engine” lights. It turns the whole concept of good gas mileage into a game of sorts, scoring you based on how efficient you drive.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/dKTOyiKLARk&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

The neat little gadget will be available sometime in March of 2010 and cost $149.99. For the frugal minded though, Garmin already offers a free ecoRoute download to its nuvi devices. Most GPS devices already have options for “fastest route” and “shortest distance”, but the free ecoRoute download also allows for an option that is the most “fuel efficient”. Pretty neat stuff if you ask me… though I refuse to buy a GPS device for any reason. I’ve never had a problem getting where I need to go before, and Mapquest works just fine for me, thank you very much. But, if you want to brag to your friends about your fuel mileage, you might want to give this whole ecoRoute thing some consideration.

Turn to the next page for the full press release

Source: Garmin