Automotive

Ottawa to Toronto route. 416/401 vs hwy 7/115

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Newbie
Jan 13, 2008
46 posts
1 upvote
ottawa

Ottawa to Toronto route. 416/401 vs hwy 7/115

I did a quick search and didn't find anything exactly like I wanted. What are the pros and cons to these routes? I've been generally driving the 416/401 route for 14 years or so, but everytime I experiment with hwy 7 I'm always happily satisfied. Here's my take.

416/401
Pros:
- Multi-lane route takes the stress (some) out of slower traffic and passing.
- Service centers available, though currently under construction.
- Potentially faster since you can speed to 140-150 Km/h without getting the car impounded.
- Less speed traps?

Cons:
- Physically longer route. Google maps says longer by about 40Km, but the last few times I took it it was more like 60-70Km.
- Boring. Lots of nothing to see.
- Use more gas since you are driving generally 100-130Km/h. One time with 4 in the car going 140 I had to fill up in Kingston.
- Possible horrific traffic congestion
- Takes me 3/4 - 7/8 tank. Nevermind the specific car. It always seems to take the same amount of gas.

Hwy 7/115
Pros:
- Shorter route
- Lower speed saves gas. Generally 80-100Km/h. Last time I made it on 1/2 tank of gas.
- More scenic. Less likely to fall asleep due to boredom
- More stressful. Always gotta think about passsing slow pokes. Keeps you awake.
- Less, almost none, big rig trailers.
- Hwy 115 is new, 4-6 lanes. Not busy at all.

Cons:
- If you're stuck being a big slow train of cars, swearing becomes regular vocabulary in sentences.
- Dangerous because of the passing
- Gas stations few and far between.
- More speed traps. There are at least 3 police stations right off hwy 7 near the small towns.

Really the travel time difference is negligible. I believe I always make it faster doing the hwy 7 route. Perhaps because there are no service centers along the way to tempt me with a 20-30 min stop over. I've also heard of some people ditching hwy 7 at route 37 to hit Belleville. I never tried that.

What does everybody else think?
42 replies
Deal Fanatic
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Sep 2, 2006
5450 posts
288 upvotes
Stouffville, ON
Are you nuts? Go 401 to 416. It's faster (if you leave earlier or later) and the speed traps are easy to avoid by going 130 or slower. The 416 is anal so go 120 there. If you have to fill up in Kingston, I'm assuming you're driving a larger vehicle, but I mean ANY car should be able to go from Toronto to Ottawa (~400km-ish) on one tank. D:
Deal Addict
Jul 18, 2009
1364 posts
78 upvotes
Have you tried 7/37/401?

416/401 is taking the long sides of the triangle, whereas 7/37 is the hypotenuse. You can still do ~100(+), especially if it's early morning or late evening on the weekends, since there will generally be no heavy trucks to pass. There's not a heavy OPP presence, but other than the old lady famously nabbed for stunting (passed a semi @ 130), you pass a station and see the occasional cruiser traveling the road.

One tank is more than enough, even in my SUV, and I can usually get to High Park in <4hrs.

Most people I know hold it at <=120 on the 400 series to avoid getting nabbed. I've been laser-tagged and/or followed many times on cruise at 119 with no impact, but got ticketed a few years ago at 130 on the 401 @ Napannee.

Taking 7/37 lands you on the 401 at Brockville, a 2hr cruise from Toronto and you avoid the notorious Kingston speed traps ;)
Sr. Member
Aug 31, 2004
518 posts
10 upvotes
Ottawa
In evenings/nights/early morning the preference is hwy 7/115, generally I travel behind someone doing 100+, less gas, shorter, less stressful.

Daytime 401/416.
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 13, 2008
46 posts
1 upvote
ottawa
The time I had to fill up in Kingston we (4 ppl + full luggage) were driving a Protege (1.6L engine). We were splitting the driving and I think my friend was pretty much flooring it to hit 140 - 150ish. I had to explain (after the trip) why the car sucked up so much gas on the way there. Gas was still "cheap" back then.

No joke. Going 80-110 on the hwy 7 route is a ~4 hr drive to Scarborough. Going 120-130 on 416/401 route is about ~4 hr to get to Scarborough as well.
m4gician wrote:
Oct 7th, 2010 11:09 am
Are you nuts? Go 401 to 416. It's faster (if you leave earlier or later) and the speed traps are easy to avoid by going 130 or slower. The 416 is anal so go 120 there. If you have to fill up in Kingston, I'm assuming you're driving a larger vehicle, but I mean ANY car should be able to go from Toronto to Ottawa (~400km-ish) on one tank. D:
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Sep 2, 2006
5450 posts
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Stouffville, ON
yeea wrote:
Oct 7th, 2010 11:39 am
The time I had to fill up in Kingston we (4 ppl + full luggage) were driving a Protege (1.6L engine). We were splitting the driving and I think my friend was pretty much flooring it to hit 140 - 150ish. I had to explain (after the trip) why the car sucked up so much gas on the way there. Gas was still "cheap" back then.

No joke. Going 80-110 on the hwy 7 route is a ~4 hr drive to Scarborough. Going 120-130 on 416/401 route is about ~4 hr to get to Scarborough as well.

Are you sure? I've done it twice last year and i was closer to 3 hours 4min...but then again you're probably right as I didn't go into Ottawa, I went just south of it. So ya I answered my own question, I'll try your route since I'm heading there later on this year.
Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2008
1554 posts
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Ottawa
apn64 wrote:
Oct 7th, 2010 11:27 am
Taking 7/37 lands you on the 401 at Brockville, a 2hr cruise from Toronto and you avoid the notorious Kingston speed traps ;)
I think you meant to say Belleville ;)
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Jul 10, 2007
4355 posts
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Toronto
I did the Toronto-Ottawa commute every week for 4 months and I can tell you the 401/416 route is MUCH better... most of the time I do 130-140km/h and I haven't been pulled over, I guess I got lucky. There have been known to be speedtraps near Kingston and on the 416 but keep with the flow of traffic, 120-ish and you'll be fine. It will take approx. 4 hours averaging 120-130 km/h
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Feb 24, 2007
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I have to agree with some guys here said that it's better to take 401/37/7 through Tweed during the morning and evening. Not anything in between though. And Peterbourough has speed traps.

In regards to speed traps, there are few close to Kingston and on 416. And if you love Tims you should stay on 401 instead of 7.
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Deal Addict
Aug 1, 2006
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Toronto
I usually did 410/15 (Smith Falls exit at Kingston) when I was going back and forth between Carleton University and Toronto.

However, with the new 50-over law, you have to be careful because the speed limit will drop drastically to 60 km/hr or lower when you approach any of the small towns and there are quite a few cops that take advantage of that.

You also don't want to take the smaller highways if your car isn't the most reliable... or in the winter... I've seen way too many cars in the ditch and CAA will take a VERY long time to get out to the middle of nowhere.
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Sr. Member
Aug 27, 2009
996 posts
196 upvotes
Oakville
My vote is for 401/37/7. My reasons:

- Gas is usually cheapest in & around Perth
- Personally I find it much more relaxing than the 401. I hate the conga lines formed in the left lane behind some slowpoke and there's always some guy(s) who likes to race up in gaps in the right lane and cut in at the last minute forcing eveyone to jam on the brakes.
- If your vehicle has enough power then passing isn't usually a problem
- If you have young kids, pulling off the road on short notice is much safer as there are a lot of sideroads
- In winter you can avoid some of the lake-effect snowsqualls, especially if you go 401/115/7 (though this route has too many small towns for my general liking)
- Carleton Place to the 417 is now mostly 4-lane, 100kph limit
- You save a LOT of gas and vehicle wear & tear. 100 kph vs 120+ kph is about 20+% savings PLUS it's 40 km shorter and it takes about the same time
- Longest time between Timmys is just over an hour from Tweed to Perth
- Silver Lake is beautiful

As for going 130-150 kph, that's fine until you get caught with all the resulting consequences - demerit points, big fine, insurance increase, unhappy wife. Been there done that. The first 3 go away with time, the 4th always remembers!
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2010
3320 posts
348 upvotes
Toronto
Or get the best of both worlds - take Hwy 7 in the middle of the night! If you time it right, you'll avoid the trucks (which aren't hard to pass if necessary, and are trying to go as fast as they possibly can too). I moved from Ottawa to Toronto in a rickety old Uhaul that I didn't want to take on the 401 (or anywhere there were other vehicles, really). Flying through tiny towns at 3am really is quite an experience.

The main downside to Hwy 7 is if you happen to get stuck behind someone religiously doing the speed limit at those parts where passing is difficult. Oh, and don't stop at that log cabin place near Tweed.
Sr. Member
Apr 5, 2007
549 posts
32 upvotes
Whitby
I must be missing something - why are you not considering the most obvious option?
Take the 401 but don't speed? Just set the cruise control to 105 and cruise along sipping gas and enjoy the ride.

If you're so pressed for time that you feel you need to go 130, 140 maybe you should be leaving an hour sooner.
Deal Addict
Feb 19, 2009
1016 posts
123 upvotes
Burlington
I do this drive a lot and have gone both ways and I prefer the 401 / 416 route.

You don't have to pay attention to speed limits changing on you, its just 100 the whole way. You can just set your cruise control to 119 and not worry about cops. At least 2 lanes the entire way so passing slow people isn't much of a hassle.

Gas is never an issue for me, I fill up before I leave and I always have more than a quarter tank left by the time I get there.

I like to get off the 401 at Division st in Kingston to eat because there are a lot of different restaurants to choose from and its easy to get right back on the highway again when you're done.
[OP]
Newbie
Jan 13, 2008
46 posts
1 upvote
ottawa
I would give myself a coronary if I kept the speed limit. Also my wife would throw me out the window to take control and drive herself. An hour sooner is not always an option. Really the question here is, why take 416/401 if it is not any faster and uses more gas? Just looking for opinions from others who have taken the different routes.

Looking at the map, it does seem like 7/37/401 is the best route, I think I will try this next (tonight!). At the 37, hwy 7 and 401 are parrallel but 401 has the higher speed limit. Google still says 7/115 route is a bit shorter.
recneps77 wrote:
Oct 7th, 2010 10:42 pm
I must be missing something - why are you not considering the most obvious option?
Take the 401 but don't speed? Just set the cruise control to 105 and cruise along sipping gas and enjoy the ride.

If you're so pressed for time that you feel you need to go 130, 140 maybe you should be leaving an hour sooner.
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