The Green Driving Feedback Gadget 1/25/2010 8:41:42 AM

In one of Top Gearís more infamous vehicle tests, a Toyota Prius was pitted 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, is that it isnít what you drive, but how you drive.

Now you can get decent mileage if you drive, well, gingerly. It isnít 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. Itís pretty cool, in a green, Big Brother sort of way.You don't have to own a Prius to have a fun, distracting dashboard display that tells you how you're driving. Garmin is releasing the ecoRoute hd. It will use your car's computer and GPS information to give you real-time feedback on braking, acceleration, and other factors that affect the efficiency of your driving.

All modern cars come with computers (cars made since 1996), and the gadget takes advantage of this fact by plugging directly into your  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 device also lets us monitor things like engine temperature, timing, and even engine diagnostic codes to get rid of those pesky ďCheck EngineĒ lights. It turns the whole concept of good gas mileage into a game of sorts, scoring you based on how efficient you drive.

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