Will Economy replace horsepower?

by keif on August 28, 2008

I was in D.C. visiting some relatives the past weekend – trying to work on my terror level and maybe get a few good jokes on the way. Unfortunately, Bush wasn’t in, so I had no one to do blow with while I was in town (Zing!) so I had to settle for martinis and some excellent conversation.

Now, my friends, the relatives have two SUVs. One Land Rover, one Lexus SUV (and for a point of understanding, this guy had a FREAKING ASTON MARTIN until the wife convinced him to go to a Land Rover Family Car). On one drive, he pointed out the Land Rover has more horsepower than the Lexus, and it leads to the conversation of how back in the day, people sacrificed economy for horsepower.

I’ve got a brother-in-law with a 1969 Firebird – you think that gets great fuel mileage?

Will we replace Horsepower with Fuel Economy?

I’m really curious about this. We used to be about Trans Ams, Camaros, Hemis… and to a degree we, as Americans, have given up the SUVs from “compact” SUVs and cross-overs with huge engines (and mildly better fuel economy).

Will we start shelling out for hybrids instead of a mini-tank? Or will mini-cars show up as the dominant driving force? Point in case – the Smart Fortwo. A cool little two-seater that can go up to 90mph and gets 33/41 mpg. From SmartUSA:

According to information obtained on fueleconomy.gov, the smart fortwo is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid
gasoline-powered vehicle in the USA today. The gas tank of the smart fortwo is 8.7 gallons.

For reals? For reals!

This is kind of cool – I know SOMEONE downtown has one of these, because whenever I walk over to the Northmarket for lunch, and sometimes on my way home from work, I see a woman driving one. I believe you can get one over by Easton – I think it’s an Acura dealership as well.

Basically, this keeps piqueing my interest – I want a small, fast compact car. Fuel Economy? MosDef.

As my current car – a 1997 Honda Civic starts to approach the end of its life, my journey in the realm of “new age vehicles” will begin.

  • http://www.theguigirl.com Denise

    Ah, yes. I didn’t lease my crossover for the economy, that’s certain. Up until this January, I used to drive a 2000 Mazda 626 (which in 1999, was the leader in fuel efficiency for mid-size sedans)…and I loved it until we had a baby and a large dog. Both of which, from time to time, had to be transported together – and as I am keenly aware of physics, there’s a whole law dedicated to objects with mass that can’t occupy the same space.

    The Smart cars are great. If you don’t have kids. Or dogs. Or have to transport anything other than an iPhone and one other person. I mean seriously, to me the *idea* is great: AWESOME fuel efficiency. But the car is terribly impractical, and I guess I’m not wealthy or Smart enough to have a third car that we use as a daily commuter.

    I got a lease this time around because I’m holding out for all car manufacturers to get their shizzle together and apply that awesome fuel efficiency to vehicles that actually work for families, and don’t serve as an indulgent badge to economy self-righteousness. I can live without the horsepower (although my CX7 is spoiling me with it’s 244 ponies), but I won’t commit to buying a family mover that gets less than 30 mpg *city*.

    Related: Dear Auto Manufacturers: Please take a page out of Johnathan Goodwin’s book ASAP –> http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/120/motorhead-messiah.html

    • http://ikeif.net ikeif

      When I went to Denver, I got a “free upgrade” to a crossover (because all the fuel efficient cars were taken!).

      I fell in love with the Infinity Crossover.

      When we started making those same trips as you – dog, baby, bags, parents – we did it a few times in the civic before we opted to sell my old car (1996 Civic) and got a 2005 Honda CRV – Now we can actually fit a stroller, groceries, kid and pet all in one trip for extended times.

      I don’t deny the Smart Fortwo isn’t a family car, but I’d toss my civic and get it since, most often, if it’s more than me I’m in the CRV. This is my same argument for why I should get a motorcycle, but my wife’s a paramedic who’s seen the aftermath of “I didn’t see the guy on the bike” accidents.

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