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Pain Point?

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    My habits were already semi-fuel-frugal before. The post-Katrina gas prices did chase the Toyota truck out of my driveway though.

    Point is, I think the fuel economy choices we have now suck. Everybody goes around saying "Wow! This one makes 30 mpg, that's excellent!". To them I say, no it's not, it's barely above mediocre. And the real sickening thing is all these carmaker ads playing now talking about their highway EPA ratings, which are not only low but also do not represent the mileage people will really get in their regular driving.

    So my point is, will the automakers learn their lesson properly this time and focus on fuel frugality from now on when they design new models, or will this be 1980 all over again? Because my choices in truly fuel efficient cars right now from ALL automakers are almost zero. It's 2008, the new century, let's get with it.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,209
    "I don't really drive that much anymore, maybe 5-6,000 miles per year."

    In that case your Intrepid should serve your needs for a long time. That's unless you get tired of it, but it's my impression that, like me, you like to keep your cars until the wheels fall off. Well, okay, maybe not that long for your daily driver, but quite long, nevertheless.

    Sure, it's nice to have a new car, but in a way it's kind of a luxury to drive something that doesn't owe you anything.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,895
    Point is, I think the fuel economy choices we have now suck. Everybody goes around saying "Wow! This one makes 30 mpg, that's excellent!". To them I say, no it's not, it's barely above mediocre.

    AMEN!

    I owned a string of 4 Nissan Sentras, an '81, '87, '91, '96, and now an '07 Versa and the mileage has just evaporated over time. All of them were 5 speed manuals. The '81 got me 48-50mpg combined and 54-55 highway. By the time the '96 came around, I was down to 36-38 mixed and 42-44 highway. My 6 speed Versa being heavier was getting me 32-34 mixed and 35-36 highway until ethanol rolled into town and those numbers have dropped by about 10%.

    Is there ANY reason we can't see those kind of numbers out of normal cars anymore?

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,026
    Is there ANY reason we can't see those kind of numbers out of normal cars anymore?

    I can think of a bunch of reasons. Weight, power, size, safety. A Versa weighs about 2700 pounds. Just to put it in perspective, the base weight of a 1968 Dodge Dart hardtop is 2715 pounds. And that's with a 475 lb lump of a slant six engine, and the extra bracing to make up for the lack of a B-pillar!

    In 1981 standards, 2700 lb would put you heavier than a Citation or K-car, maybe just below a Ford Fairmont, or about what an '82 Celebrity would start at. And I doubt if any of those were getting 35-36 mpg on the highway except in extreme circumstances.

    Your Versa would also be safer than any of them, with airbags, better side impact protection, more controlled crumple zones, etc. As for size, the 102.4" wheelbase puts it above the K-cars (100.3"), and not that far below the Citation (104.9) or Fairmont (105.6). At 66.7", it's around the same width as most of them, and what it lacks in length, it more than makes up in height.

    Speaking of height, I wonder if that might take its toll on fuel efficiency at highway speeds. At 60.4" tall, it's starting to blur the line between car and minivan! I'm sure it has a very low drag coefficient, but that height increases total frontal area, so I'm sure that has to be a drag.

    How much hp does a 1.8 Versa have? 122? I'm sure it would blow away most cars from 1981. Now if you have something cheap and small enough from 1981, it's going to be loud and buzzy enough that you're going to feel like you're going fast, even if you're not. But your typical 2700 lb car from 1981 isn't going to have anywhere near the performance of a Versa. Maybe a Chevy Citation X-11 with the fuel-injected V-6, but then you're not going to be getting 35-36 mpg on the highway, no matter how gently you drive it.

    Just out of curiosity, how are your driving habits on the highway? 35-36 does seem low. I was able to get 37.4 out of my uncle's '03 Corolla when I took it on a trip once. But the Corolla is a bit lighter, and not as tall as a Versa, so that might be enough to make a difference. I also drove it gently, staying around 55-60, maybe rarely getting up to 65-70, but always trying to accelerate as slow as safely possible.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    Everyone seems to take the idea for granted that more power is a GOOD thing.

    If I had the choice for my commute car of car A that gets to 60 mph in 10 seconds and makes 45 mpg or car B that gets to 60 in 8 seconds and makes 36 mpg, I am going with car A without question.

    But that's the problem with all these cars today, and their sucky fuel economy. They are all much heavier and much faster than they need to be. And BTW, the weight problem is tied in to the speed thing, because a car that can go faster needs chassis improvements and wheel and tire upsizing to handle the extra speed.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,026
    Everyone seems to take the idea for granted that more power is a GOOD thing.

    If I had the choice for my commute car of car A that gets to 60 mph in 10 seconds and makes 45 mpg or car B that gets to 60 in 8 seconds and makes 36 mpg, I am going with car A without question.


    Point well taken, but compared to 1981, more power IS a good thing. Good Lord, some of those cars back in 1981 could take 20 seconds, sometimes more, to get from 0-60! More power IS good, up to a point.

    And nowadays, more power isn't necessarily going to hurt your fuel economy, at least not like it did in the past. Cars today are more like turbos in that respect, where you get the power when you need it, but at the cost of fuel economy. But when driven more gently, you'll get the economy. Back in the old days, if you had a strong engine, you got bad fuel economy no matter how gently you drove it!

    Power and the ability to go fast no doubt do add some weight to a car, but I'm still convinced that a lot of it is also because of increased rollover protection, better side impact protection, improved crumple zones, etc. And then there's insulation, which can add hundreds of pounds to a car. I'm sure modern cars have more of it in them than older ones did, in order to make them quieter.

    FWIW, it probably only takes 20-30 hp to move a small car along at a steady 60 mph anyway, so any modern engine is only using a fraction of its available power to do that. Therefore, I don't think making the engines smaller and weaker is going to help very much with fuel economy. Although it will irritate people when they actually NEED that power, such as for merging, passing, etc., or when they load up the car.
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    All of that, plus those old cars with good fuel economy were much slower to accelerate (low horsepower and tall gearing), and had leaner air-fuel ratios than current emissions standards will allow.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    Toyota is talking about releasing a 1.3L Yaris with about 10% less hp, 15% less torque. They are estimating it will make 15% better fuel economy. I would say that is good evidence that more power is in a fairly linear relationship with less fuel economy......

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • fezofezo Posts: 9,364
    Another former Sentra owner! I had an 87 before I drowned it. It was a slug but dependable as all get out, easy to work on and would get over 40 mpg on a trip.

    There's no way they shouldn't be able to produce a car now that gets that kind of mileage. Yes, the cars have gotten bigger and heavier but the technology has advanced.

    Do I like a car with a lot of zip? Sure, but not all of them have to have that.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,895
    Never considered my Sentras to be sports cars, but they weren't slugs either. The base Focus I had as a rental in LA back in 2001, now THAT was a slug :shades:

    I agree 100%. What has happened to our perception of what "good mileage" is? Heck, my 1966 Chrylser Newport with the 383 V8 was getting 19mpg when it had 220,000 miles on it.

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  • fezofezo Posts: 9,364
    Did the 87 Sentra offer more than one engine? I ask because this one was slow. It had replaced an 80 Accord which, while not a sports car by any means, was pretty zippy.

    Of course the real slug of my various cars was that 69 Volvo 142. If it wrere any slower it would have been going backwards.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,895
    All of our vehicles since 1979 have been 5 speeds so that kind of disguises slug-ness a bit :shades:

    1.6 liter was the only size engine available for the 87
    image

    That body style was similar to my 81.

    Once we got to 1991 there were 3 engine choices, 1.4, 1.6, and 2.0 liter. I had the 1.6 so that explains why I didn't notice much difference. I liked the B13 body style the best of all my Sentras. This photo was just after someone stopped short for a deer in front of my wife:)
    imageSee more Car Pictures at CarSpace.com

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,209
    A 1.4? Are you sure the 1.6 wasn't the smallest engine for the Sentra from the mid-'80s on, for the U.S. market?
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,364
    Mine was a five speed as well. Looked just like your picture but in alight metallic blue of some sort.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,026
    Heck, my 1966 Chrylser Newport with the 383 V8 was getting 19mpg when it had 220,000 miles on it.

    I briefly had a 1967 Chrysler Newport hardtop coupe with a 383-2bbl, but didn't have it long enough to track the mileage. 19 mpg sounds really good for something that size, though. My '67 Catalina convertible, with its 400-4bbl, could get about 17-18 mpg if I kept my foot out of it.

    Maybe I should've held onto that Chrysler? I got rid of it back in 1999, around the same time that I got my Intrepid.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    That is only my opinion, of course. After Katrina, when prices rose to over $3 / gallon, it didn't seem like too many folks changed their driving habits. However, this past summer, when the price broke the $4 / gallon barrier in most of the country, I think there was a general panic about fuel mileage.

    Folks couldn't dump their SUV's fast enough, and cars like the Civic, which you could get for around invoice in the spring, suddenly became as scarce as hen's teeth (with an increased transaction price to match). Public transportation and carpooling became more popular.

    I was lucky in that I started a new job with my company that allowed me to work from home .. now, instead of commuting 21 miles each way to work every day, I go into the office once every 2 weeks.

    Now that prices are hovering around $1.75 / gallon (national average - I paid $146.9 for gas earlier today), will folks go back to their SUV's and pickup trucks? Perhaps, but in much smaller numbers, I should think. I don't think you'll see folks buying a large SUV or full-sized truck unless there is a real need for it (large family, need to tow).

    A co-worker of my wife used to drive an '01 (or so) Chevy Tahoe. Over the summer, she and her husband bought a used Toyota Corolla (mid 90's, I think) and put in a reconditioned engine. I think they spent around $1000 to get it up and running. She drove it back and forth to work most of the fall. When I went to my wife's work last week, I noticed that she was back driving the Tahoe. Now, this could be due to the poor weather we've been having in Colorado lately, but it could also be that she is just more comfortable driving the Tahoe.

    andre, I second your comments about the cramped interior of the Corolla. Some friends of ours have an '06, and I drove it once. I'm only 5'11", and I found myself uncomfortable behind the wheel. More so than I did in our '03 Focus or my daughter's '06 ION - both of those cars were reasonably comfortable for me to drive.

    pf, I owned a '91 Sentra - I think they only came with the 1.6L and 110HP, unless you got the SE-R, which came with the "hot" 2L and 140HP. I don't specifically remember the kind of mileage I used to get with it, but it was the car that took me from CA to CO when I moved there in '93.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,364
    Now I started reducing trips and slowing down after Katrina but I agree that the population as a whole didn't get it until $4 gas. That's a memory I hope stays with us.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    But I also agree we don't have many improvements economy wise to choose from. My last real small car was a old Civic SI hatch back in the 80s I think. Thing ran forever on a gallon of gas. I also had a B-210 slug that got great mileage and it might have been responsible for me feeling we needed more power than was offered by many small cars at the time. I got a Pulser for my son and it wasn't bad on fuel even if it almost made me swear off of Nissans.

    But the pain point has changed me I believe. I no longer need at least 150 HP no matter how small the car. I love my Tahoe and use it as a SUV should be used, towing and hauling. I don't love my 4 banger but I like the mileage it gets and plan on keeping it till the wheels fall off. The only thing that will get me into a new small car is if they make one that gets the kind of mileage of an Insight for the price of a Aveo, or maybe I could stretch it to the price of a focus. Other than that I moved to a smaller place and don't have to commute. From most of the people I talk to most people have changed how they drive even if not as many changed what they drive as some had hoped.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,364
    I remember my, I think, 85 Sentra. The thing was slow but on a trip it would break 40 mpg no sweat. I'm thinking I could live with a car that slow again.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    I will "echo" that! :-)
    (pun intended, given the model of car I drive for my commute, which by the way is not nearly as slow as most cars I drove in the 80s.....that was before I could afford a new car, or even a fast used car)

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    I never thought I would be interested in a small slow car but I have found that the economy showed me that the car simply wasn't all that important anyway. I could live with a small city car as long as I didn't intend to travel any real distance in one. But city cars only need to be comfortable for maybe 100 miles. So in that regard I have changed but if they came up with an alternative fuel source or high mileage mid sized car I would be very interested. But I would even give up a city car if we had a good public transportation system or light rail in our state. That is one direction in which I have changed. I took the Metro Rail into LA a few times and it was one of the most relaxing rides into the City I have ever had. Had it been available when I worked in LA I would have never driven as a commuter.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 22,026
    Isn't the Echo actually pretty quick with a stick shift?
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,035
    I agree. I can drive most any little beater for running errands and even short trips to San Diego 30 miles away. In fact when I go shopping I would just as soon not have a nice car as door dingers drive me crazy. If I am headed to Phoenix or Las Vegas and points beyond I like the comfort & safety of a larger vehicle.

    My closest point to catch the Trolley is 13 miles from home. Or an hour on the milk run bus with only 4 chances per day. If you miss the bus it is a $50 cab ride.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,693
    Yup, the stick shift Echo has a 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds, so pretty quick for an econobox. The automatic was about 2 seconds slower and 15% less fuel-efficient to boot.

    They are reporting this morning that the trade deficit jumped enormously in October, primarily due to massive increases in oil imports. So clearly things are not so bad that people can't buy lots more gas at $2, and $2 is WELL below the pain point!

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    Now there you have a good point. Taking the Tahoe or even my PT, before I sold it, to the mall was always a difficult experience. But with an econobox who cares? I thought about getting a Aveo or Corolla or Civic just for such trips. But my little Pontiac 4 banger gets along just fine and so there is no reason to get a new car. No sub compact is an upgrade and I don't need a mid sized car while I have the Tahoe and an old compact. But public transportation isn't readily available where I live unless you consider Dial-A -Ride. I tend to cycle more places now and 10 to 20 miles is getting pretty easy.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,364
    Yeah, an Echo can move - and, heck, a Corolla these days does OK.

    Funny thing with that old Sentra. It was small but it was comfortable. I'd drive it from South Jersey to Maine. The only problem was getting it up to speed. Once there it was fine and with the stick you could manage passing a slowpoke.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,750
    It is those cross state journeys that make me take the Tahoe. There are time when I get out on a long freeway like the 10 going through Texas or the 40 through New Mexico where the captain chair type of seats and cruise control make life a lot easier. I tend to not be effected by the wind as much on 40 or the rain groves on 10 like I do in a small car. I always thought they should put a cable down the middle of the lane on parts of ten so when you put the car in cruise control you could simply sit back and let the vehicle track down the road for 200 miles at a time. To tell the truth a new Accord or even a Camry isn't bad on such a road but a Corolla will tire you out a bit. I have gone 600 miles in the Tahoe and been just about as rested as if I had spent the day in my living room watching TV. After 300 miles in my sons old, 2001, Civic we both would have to get out of the car and stretch and let the blood return to our "hinter" regions.

    Still I hardly ever drive my Tahoe locally and I only drive my 4 banger when I have to. Because of that I believe at least my family has changed.
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