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'Gas Challenge': Follow the Riley family

"Today" tracks the Rileys as they drive from Los Angeles to New York in six days in a Lincoln Navigator SUV.
/ Source: TODAY

Family log: From Cleveland to New York City (Day 7)
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was incredibly awesome. I loved the Jimi Hendrix exhibit the best — I'm a big fan of his. We also enjoyed The Who exhibit a lot.

We ran into a bad accident on I-80 and spent 2 hours going only 10 or 15 miles, so that delayed our trip to New York City. We saw Amish farms around dusk and they were beautiful; I saw a few Amish people at a Rest Area and they were very nice. Although it was extremely tiring, we got to see a lot of things we had never seen before, and made a lot of new friends with the other families and strangers along the way.

The whole trip has been a blessing and it was fun. We compromised a lot less in the long run than we thought we would have to, considering we were in the SUV; I don't think anyone should let the gas prices deter anyone's decision to vacation this year.  —Renee Riley

Most expensive gas between Los Angeles and New York
Ludlow, Calif.: $2.96/gallon

Cheapest gas between Los Angeles and New York
Howe, Ind.: $1.91/gallon

Total amount spent on gas
Rileys (SUV): $459.27Fowlers (Midsize): $277.98 Pletchers (Hybrid): $172.67

Gas Mileage
Riley Family (SUV): 17 mpg  (estimate was 15 mpg) Fowler Family (Midsize):  26 mpg  (estimate was 25 mpg) Pletcher Family (Hybrid): 42 mpg  (estimate was 40 mpg)

Family log: From Chicago to Cleveland (Day 6)
We went to Shedd Aquarium and it was the most breathtaking thing I've seen in my life. We saw Beluga whales, porpoises, every kind of fish you can think of. I took about 500 still photos and lots of video, it was an incredible experience.

We sat in traffic in Chicago for almost two hours and then started heading for Cleveland. We only stopped for gas once and it was $2.29 a gallon in Clyde, Ohio. —Renee Riley

Total amount spent on gas
Rileys (SUV): $410.20Fowlers (Midsize): $251.98Pletchers (Hybrid): $154.27

Gas Mileage
Riley Family (SUV): 17 mpg  (estimate was 15 mpg) Fowler Family (Midsize):  26 mpg  (estimate was 25 mpg) Pletcher Family (Hybrid): 39 mpg  (estimate was 40 mpg)

Family log: Kansas City to Chicago (Day 5)
The live shot from Kansas Speedway was fun, but it's always a shocker when you look older than you thought on camera.

We got a late start on the road because we were really tired.  We needed the sleep.  We got a bite to eat when leaving town.  We went to Walmart, grabbed a few things, like a sweater because it's a little chilly at night in the Midwest.  And we saw the Mississippi River.

The SUV has been great. We've been having a great time, laughing the whole way and having fun.

We saw incredible greenery passing by in Missouri and Illinois.  It's a beautiful part of the country. We're too tired to do theme parks and can't wait to get to Chicago.  As soon as the live shot is over on Wednesday, we're heading to see the sights. —Alida Adair, Renee Riley's best friend

Days 1 - 4: Los Angeles to Kansas City
Total amount spent on gas
Rileys (SUV): $388.80 Fowlers (Midsize): $211.98 Pletchers (Hybrid): $135.28

Gas Mileage Riley Family (SUV): 17 mpg  (estimate was 15 mpg) Fowler Family (Midsize):  26 mpg  (estimate was 25 mpg) Pletcher Family (Hybrid): 39 mpg  (estimate was 40 mpg)

Family log: Denver to Kansas City (Day 4)
We had a lot of fun at the live shot on Monday morning, but very little time to sleep; we went back to the hotel room to sleep afterward. We're driving so much and making so many stops that it's getting hard to see any sights; basically just stopping at gas stations and going to the bathroom.

We're driving all the time, so we're tired; not eating good meals, but instead a lot of fast food. We're getting a little frustrated from being tired all the time. Got up at noon at the Denver motel and only made one stop on our way to Kansas City — the High Plains Museum in Goodland, Kan. It had a replica of the world's first-ever helicopter.

The most expensive gas for us today was $2.39 a gallon in Grinnell, Kan. —Renee Riley

Days 1 to 4: Los Angeles to Kansas City, Kan.
Total amount spent on gasRileys (SUV): $290.98Fowlers (Midsize): $151.72Pletchers (Hybrid): $99.84

Gas mileage
Rileys (SUV): 17 mpg (estimate was 15 mpg)Fowlers (Midsize): 28 mpg (estimate was 25 mpg)Pletchers (Hybrid): 39 mpg (estimate was 40 mpg)

Days 1 to 3: Los Angeles to Grand Canyon to Denver
The trip: Riley Family (SUV)

Day 1
Wasn't sure what to expect with the Lincoln Navigator because I've never driven one before, but it was beautiful and breathtaking.

It has a navigation system that talks, and  my kids have named it Michelle. We've also named the car “Romy,” so it's “Romy and Michelle's Big Vacation.” The car has plenty of room for all of our luggage. Such a comfortable ride — our legs don't hurt. I know we feel better than the other families after the long days of driving. It’s worth the extra cost of the gas for the comfort. We sat in horrible traffic in Los Angeles for the first 5 hours of the trip. I'd put my foot on the gas for a few seconds then sit for a few minutes before we could move forward. We only had to stop once for gas but it was expensive — $2.96 per gallon in Ludlow, Calif. We didn't arrive at the Grand Canyon until 6 a.m. Saturday.

Day 2We took a Jeep Safari tour with a place called Grand Canyon Jeep Tours. The tour guides agreed to wait for us until 2 p.m. so we could get a little extra sleep.

The tour was so much fun! We saw a coyote and an elk, and one of the tour guides was a Native American Indian. He played his flute for us while we looked at the great views of the Grand Canyon. I was so overcome with emotion that I cried.  We got a late start out of Grand Canyon but drove all night to get just inside the Colorado border. We stopped and stayed at a Super 8 Motel in Fruita. We stopped twice for gas and paid about $50 each time to fill up.

Day 3We stopped in Vail on our way to Denver and took our time getting food and seeing the sights, since there was not as much driving to do. Got to Denver and stayed at a Super 8 Hotel.

We found the cheapest gas we've seen yet just outside Denver, at $2.26 per gallon for 91 octane premium gas. —Renee Riley

Total amount spent on gas
Riley Family (SUV): $194.13Fowler Family (Midsize) $114.22Pletcher Family (Hybrid) $60.41

Gas mileage
Riley Family (SUV): 17 mpgFowler Family (Midsize): 27 mpgPletcher Family (Hybrid): 40 mpg