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Driving from Detroit to San Diego in small horesepower car. Best Route?

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Sep 15th, 2011, 09:09 AM
  #1
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Driving from Detroit to San Diego in small horesepower car. Best Route?

I'm driving from the Detroit area to San Diego in a few days. I've driven across the country several times and have done the trip through Denver on the I70 route, the trip through New Mexico on the I40 route, and I've even done the trip on I80 through Wyoming. This particular time, I'm looking for the shortest time, but the kicker here is that I also have to figure in temperature and elevation as, this time, I'm driving a 2000 BMW 323CI with a 2.5L 170 hp I6 engine. In the past, I've done the trip in V8 Mustangs (GT, Saleen, etc.), a souped up Cutlass, and other higher horsepower motors. I'm concerned that the trip through NM and Arizona with that getting over the final mountains climb into San Diego (which is steep for about 10 miles) might be a little rough on my engine (not to mention potential heat). Conversely, the trip through Colorado and Utah on the I70 route will probably not be as hot, but I'm concerned the long duration at elevation might cause engine problems. Lastly, I80 is too far out of the way for this trip so it's out of question.

My question to all of you is 1. Take the I40 route through Oklahoma, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Yuma and risk higher heat possibilities capped with a final mountain climb (I know not as scenic but maybe less gas due to less overall climbs) or 2. I70 route through Nebraska, Denver, Utah, Vegas, Riverside (most direct and scenic but sustained elevation).

Both trips have their merits, but my concern is my car. Which has the best route for a small horsepower car? Scenery isn't a big factor for this trip. I'm assuming a long three or maybe a softer 4 day trip with both day and night driving. (12 to 14 hours)

Any suggestions?
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Sep 15th, 2011, 09:46 AM
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We used to drive all over Colorado and California in our 1963 and 1971 VW bugs. Never worried about them being underpowered. Just took our time and did not expect to break any speed records. This car probably has more power than those did.
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Sep 15th, 2011, 10:06 AM
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Are you serious? 2.5 litre . . . that isn't even that small an engine. You shouldn't have any problems.
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Sep 15th, 2011, 10:24 AM
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No reason to worry. Millions of people drive "small" hp cars through these areas every year. From your title, I thought you were going to make the drive in a smartcar or something.
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Sep 15th, 2011, 10:26 AM
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I wouldn't worry. In europe they trek all over the alpine passes in minute Fiats and similar - with I think about 80 or 90 hp.

Unless you have something large in tow yuoshould be fine.
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Sep 15th, 2011, 10:41 AM
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in fact -- of the 100+ times I've driven over the Sierras or other road trips in the west -- only 3 or 4 did the car have more then a 2.5 litre engine.
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Sep 15th, 2011, 05:03 PM
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Unless you really punish your cars driving them, I can't figure out why you are worried. If you do punish cars, try not punishing this one this time.
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Sep 16th, 2011, 10:00 AM
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Both Google Maps and Mapquest take you on a combination of I-80, 76, 70, and 15, through Des Moines, Denver, St. George, LV, Barstow, Riverside, Temecula, San Diego. This is the shortest and fastest route, 35 hours per Mapquest and 37 hours per Google Maps.

Perhaps you are not fully aware of of the capabilities of your Beemer. I checked and that 2000 323ci, when new, clocked 0 to 60 in under 7 seconds and has a top speed of about 145 mph, set by a limiter. And it has handling and braking commensurate with that level of performance. Your problem will not be making it up some hills, but avoiding a ticket.
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Sep 16th, 2011, 10:29 AM
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35 years ago one might be concerned driving an 11 year old car cross country but not today, especially with a 323. Your set, take I70(its so much nicer)
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Sep 16th, 2011, 01:34 PM
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My son just drove a 1995 Mazda Miata with a smaller engine from Atlanta to CA mostly via I-70 with no problems. The car, by the way already had 120,00 mile plus when it made the trip.
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Sep 16th, 2011, 07:34 PM
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None of the OP opening statement makes any sense at all unless driving an engine only running on two cylinders with a clogged cooling system. For years had a Dodge van with a 2.2 that run up and down the mountains - a big slow at times but always made it. Someone is over reacting to something.
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Sep 16th, 2011, 07:42 PM
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fmpden: Me thinks the OP just might be a V-8/muscle car snob who don't like them wimpy itty bitty furin cars (or just possibly a troll??? )
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Sep 16th, 2011, 08:00 PM
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FWIW - temps in ABQ have dropped a lot this past week. High's next week 80. AZ has cooled off some too.
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Sep 16th, 2011, 09:08 PM
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Janisj summed it well.
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Sep 17th, 2011, 11:06 AM
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yep most likely fmpden and janisj
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Sep 17th, 2011, 11:08 AM
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maybe i'm imagining this, but isn't janisj a race car driver or something???
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Sep 17th, 2011, 03:08 PM
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Yes, janisj, I kind of smell a rat, too. My first thought was the OP just woke up from a 50 year sleep and is still worried about stuff like vapor lock, etc.

Then I thought he must beat the hell out of every car he drives. Otherwise what is he worried about?

Then I thought he's trying to show off.
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