then using old gas prices vs new ones, these are my calculations....
Avg $1.56 per gallon in April 2003 (Calif prices which are normally high and using to give the benefit of the doubt) a 400 mile one way trip would take (estimating 8 miles to the gallon on that 15 gallon tank) a little more than 3 tank fulls...costing $70.02 total.
Compared with today's pricing, still using Calif prices of $2.24 per gal January, 2006....same 400 miles trip would now be $100.80
So a complete round trip would be $140 then compared to $200 today. That to me doesn't seem like a completely unreasonable increase in three years considering what's happened with the gas economy over that period of time and not something to have a heart attack over.
I've made that same trip many times myself with an extended cab/4-wheel-drive and otherwise identical 1996 Dodge Dakota without having to refill that third time so the gas mileage is actually better than 8 miles per gallon. I've had to stop at the nearly 275 mile spot, refill, and end up with about a half tank left when I reached my destination, but I was trying to be as fair as possible with the pricing and estimates.
Thanks for the info regarding the size of the tank, Mark. I don't own that truck anymore and the user manual went with it when it was sold.