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What is "wrong" with these new subcompacts?



  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Yeah I don't know what I am getting mpg wise yet. I have only had the car a couple of weeks and it had almost half a tank of gas when they gave it to me. Then it needed an oil change and some other stuff so I will get a realistic mpg figure once I finish with my current tank of gas.

    As to the E-class and its 30 something mpg highway we are getting into the law of diminishing returns. Making a car half the size with half the motor of a comparable car is not going to give you twice the mileage.

    Another problem is which car to you think had more money spent on it's drivetrain a E-Class that can be 60,000 grand in change or a little subcompact. There is a lot more technology packed into the at E-class or any other mid level to luxury auto then will ever be put in a subcompact. Also the E-class in particular comes in like 40 different version worldwide once you add up all of the different drivelines, engines and sedan/wagon version. That is a lot of vehicles to spread development costs around.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 22,091
    well, yes, the e-class is expensive.

    BUT, I still have to marvel at the fact that it gets the same mileage (not even similar ... the same ... 36 mpg) as a little 100 hp 2500 lb economy-mobile.

    It really just shows you what a diesel engine is capable of.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Well yeah and a 7 speed automatic. A lot more time in a wind tunnel. More efficient driveline and a lower numeric gear ratio.

    What is the final drive in a E-clas diesel like 2.94:1?

    Most subcompacts are in the upper 3 or lower 4 to 1 range. They need that gear ratio to get moving with the low torque of their engine.

    The MINI is the best example about how good a sub-compact can be with proper development costs. Yeah a MINI is relatively expensive but you can get a base MINI Cooper for in the 16,000 dollar range it just won't be that fast.

    Even my MINI Cooper S was less then 20,000 dollars before I started adding options and it is not like it was a stripper to begin with.

    I averaged around 30 mpg lifetime on that car with a lot of hard driving. I had trips where I spent hours at 90 mph plus, some autocross days and some 8/10ths driving one some deserted backroads out in southwest VA.

    Even with all of that I still could drop into 6th gear set the cruise at 70 mph with the AC on and get a hand calculated 40 mpg.

    I would love to see a MINI with a nice little turbo diesel. It would need 125 or so hp and mid 200 torque to be competive but it would be the best handling diesel around.

    Another good example of technology and gas mileage.

    A 2004 Discovery was rated 12/16 by the EPA. It had full time 4wd with low range and huge beefy solid axels and weighed around 4,600 lbs. The engine was a 4.6 liter V8 that made around 217 hp and was hooked up to a ZF 4 speed auto. I never got close to 16 mpg with my disco. I think 14 was the highest I ever got.

    A 2005 LR3 with the V8 motor is rated 14/18 and 14/19 with the V6. The LR3 weighs between 5,500 and 5,800 lbs depending on options. It has a 4.4 liter 300 hp V8 or 4.0 litre 218 hp V6. A LR3, even a V8 model, will get 20-22 mpg on the highway. I have had several customers tell me this and overall most are averaging 16-17 with mixed city highway driving. A V6 model does even better.

    A 100 more horsepower and 1,200 lbs more weight in a longer wider vehicle that drives better and is even more capable off-road equals better gas mileage. It is like fuzzy math.
  • mattgg1mattgg1 Posts: 191
    Rocky -

    What make/model of SUV do you put 8 people in for family trips?

    Like another poster said, the vast majority of SUV's only seat 5 comfortably, the same number as my Honda Accord.

    I suggest conducting an informal test...every time you see an SUV on the road, take note of how many people are in it. Take a guess at how often you see an SUV with more than 3-4 people in it, let along 7-8 people.

    Most of these people could be driving a safer, more comortable car that gets twice the gas mileage as their SUV's.
  • tsgeiseltsgeisel Posts: 352
    Some people get a hybrid for more than just the gas milage. They get it for the emissions benefits and in some cases to encourage the further development of hybrid technology.

    But it seems to me we're moving out of the sub-compact realm...
  • wamba2000wamba2000 Posts: 146
    New to this thread....

    Sorry if this has already been covered, but if you are looking for small physical size, ability to carry four people with space and leg/headroom, how about a Honda Element? I have two teens over 6' (one 6'5") that rode over 2500 miles this summer in the back, the leg and head room is excellent, plus the seats can recline (if your back end is not full of gear.) It gets a solid 20mpg in town and you can buy it for under $20K.

    Makes more sense than some of the subcompacts that are touted, but are really a 2 passenger vehicle. And yes, it is a box, but Honda has used every nook and cranny!
  • logic1logic1 Posts: 2,433
    My zip car service has a few elements. I reserved it a couple of times when I had to move furniture and supplies for one of the buildings.

    The Element works well for some people - especially those into a lot of outdoor sports.

    For most, however, I think the CRV, RAV4, VUE and Escape are better choices.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,454
    how about a Honda Element?

    Well First off saying that its as ugly as sin would be an insult to sin.

    Secondly it is very ugly.

    Thirdly it is just so ugly.

    Oh did I mention its ugly?

    Makes more sense than some of the subcompacts that are touted, but are really a 2 passenger vehicle.

    Oh I don't know. I have an Elantra wagon and it fits use perfectly. Can handle more than enough cargo and gets well over 20 in town.

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    I thought the main reason that people bought them was to feel smug. At least, that's the impression I got from an episode of "South Park" :P
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    That is funny. I saw someone in a Prius this morning, and thought that they looked incredibly smug. That episode was spot-on.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    Didn't take a trip but drove all over town with visitors one day in our Pilot. The people included:

    Two 200lb men.
    Three medium-sized adult women.
    One teenage girl.
    One six year old girl in a full sized car seat.
    One two year old girl in an even bigger car seat.

    Sure, there wasn't a lot of room to spare, but I was surprised how comfortable it was with all of those people. As a bonus, the engine didn't seem at all strained with all of that weight.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    Seems to me that for the rare occasions one finds the need to transport 7 people around, you can just rent something for a weekend 5 or 6 times a year rather than pay triple the price of a subcompact and get 1/3 the fuel mileage, just for the sake of 7-passenger occupancy every now and then. Seems like a wasteful allocation of resources for a family.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    Not if I'M driving the Corvette! That's a "loafing" 6th gear MPG--still, it's impressive if one has the luxury of burbling along at 1,800 rpm all day at a constant speed.

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  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    We have an '04 Yukon. It will carry one troop leader with seven Cadets, all in seatbelts. It will carry one Dad and one (not always willing) 16yo son and a whole lot of lumber. It will also carry me, the wife, aforementioned 16yo, the daughter, one dalmatian, a weekend's worth of accesories, and pull 6800#s of trailer at the same time. Keep it under 65 and get 11mpg on level roads. Run without the trailer and dog and get 19-21mpg on the interstate at 70-75 with the ac on. We really do use ours as a "utility vehicle".
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    Well aside from the trailer, you can do all that in a Nissan might grumble a little because of what you're used to, but in fact, you, son, daughter and groceries and dog would fit in a Versa no sweat.

    No suggesting you buy one, just commmenting on what's do-able for say 90% of your needs.

    But yes, for lumber and trailering, a subcompact is out of the question----although with a roof rack, you might get some sticks up there---nothing heavy, though.

    In Mexico they use mopeds to haul lumber---human ingenuity is boundless!

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  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 13,454
    Keep it under 65 and get 11mpg on level roads. Run without the trailer and dog and get 19-21mpg on the interstate at 70-75

    That begs the question: How does the dog affect gas mileage? How big is it anyway?

    2008 Sebring Ragtop, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.

  • crimsonacrimsona Posts: 153
    What is wrong with subs? They are space efficient in a country (or 2) where space is not a problem. I just came back from visiting family in Hong Kong, and the roads are noticeably smaller and every parking spot would be classified as 'small car' in the US. If Hummers were available for sale, I wouldn't be surprised to see them get charged double for parking (at the standard rate of $4-$5 USD per hour per parking spot at most of the major shopping malls) :P

    With the exception of the really packed cities of the left and right coasts, 'space efficiency' is secondary to plain 'space'. Even in the coasts, efficiency is only valued if you live there. With the existance of suburbs, where efficiency is less of an issue, once again, 'space' triumphs.

    Up here in the great white North in Vancouver, suburbs don't really exist as we are fenced in on 3 sides (mountains North, Pacific Ocean West, US Border South). As a result, we are a bit more packed and smaller cars make more sense here.

    This is not the case in many other places, and as such, it is unlikely that the subcompact market could realistically overtake the compacts in North America (whereas the Fit outsold the Corolla in Japan the first year it was on sale)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    If it sticks its head out the window, aerodynamic drag takes over.

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  • rorrrorr Posts: 3,630
    "In Mexico they use mopeds to haul lumber---human ingenuity is boundless!"

    No kidding. I also know that mopeds in Cozumel can carry up to 5 passengers. :surprise:

    I thought my wife was going to have a coronary watching a mom with a kid on the handlebars with grandma perched behind her with another kid on each knee. You should have heard all the gasps from the American women on the shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel. About every 30 seconds you could hear all over the bus "oh god, there's another one......".
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,858
    hey shifty... haven't we been here before?
    i do think the safety stats on mopeds would stop the debate on which of the 4 wheeled vehicles are safer. ;)
    i will have to say one thing about a subcompact. the FIT is very small. it reminds me of the subaru justy.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • w9cww9cw Posts: 888
    Mr. Shiftright . . . that's exactly what my wife and I do now both kids are "almost" out of the house and out of college. In fact, whenever we drive a long distance for a driving vacation or ??, we rent a vehicle specific to our exact needs. It takes the wear and tear off of our main vehicle, and in the end, it isn't any more expensive.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 11,858
    just wait until you plan your vacation around a rental, it's not available when you need it.
    anytime i have gotten a quote on a rental for a couple of thousand mile round trip, it was extremely expensive.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    tut...tut...planning, planning is the key here.

    RE: Safety -- a slippery slope. Given the dynamics and wide range of accidents, I don't think the supposed lack of "safety" of smaller cars is supported by really good, solid statistics. What I've read are results that are "too gross". In other words, they reflect CORRELATION but not CAUSE and EFFECT.

    If someone could do a "regressive analysis" of safety data, and keep eliminating point by point all the factors EXCEPT the size and weight of the car involved in the fatality, I bet we'd be surprised at the results.

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  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    Well, at 55lbs she didn't affect the mileage so much, but she did occupy a seat. There was no way the trailer was going out the driveway without her. Our constant companion for ten years, we had to put her down in May because of cardiac and kidney failure.

    I really miss that pup.
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    This is all coming from memory and I am not going to go track down all of this so don't complain about it. Look it up on your own if you must.

    The majority of fatal accidents are single vehicle accidents. The I lost control and hit the tree, telephone pole, guard rail, hill, etc.

    Size really does not matter much in this instance as you are hitting an unmovable object. What matters is safety cage strength and crumple zones. Now if the car is so small that it does have many crumple zones like the SMART well then you might be out of luck but the SMART is designed to be an urban car so we will leave it out of this.

    Body on frame vehicles have poor safety cage strenght and poor crumple zones. That is why when you look at the NHTSB statistics light trucks have a slightly higher fatality rate then passenger cars. Rollovers effect that statistic as well. What you need to survive that kind of crash is a vehicle that will absorb and disperse the energy around a strong enough safety cage to keep you from getting crushed.

    In this instance at least size really does matter not.
  • jlflemmonsjlflemmons Posts: 2,242
    Hyundai has an interesting perspective on this. Lots of crumple zone, shed mass (ie: engine/trans) in major collision, use lots of air bags. Occupants walk away from a total pile of rubble. But they get 5 star crash ratings and you live to buy another.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    No offense, but anyone who would say that has almost certainly never been in either. The Justy was a tiny tiny car weighing well under 2000 pounds, with comfortable seating for two and no more (I had one for a very short period, a friend had one for a much longer while).

    Sit in a Fit sometime - spacious for four, and so much more substantial than the old Justy.

    I now continue on my mission to fight the old stereotypes, now obsolete, that the subs just can't seem to shake.....


    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • beantownbeantown Posts: 228
    just wait until you plan your vacation around a rental, it's not available when you need it.
    anytime i have gotten a quote on a rental for a couple of thousand mile round trip, it was extremely expensive

    Odd....all the rental places I've ever dealt with offer their cars on an unlimited mile basis for $25-50 a day depending on the class of car. A few years ago, I paid under $100 for a three day, 2,000 mile rental of a compact car and that was the norm pretty much everywhere I checked.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    The Justy was a tiny tiny car weighing well under 2000 pounds, with comfortable seating for two and no more

    About 13 years ago, there was a girl here at work who had a Justy. I remember changing something on it for her, like the valve cover gasket or something. She took me out to lunch once or twice in it. I could actually fit okay up front, but I just didn't like that vulnerable feeling. I don't think I've ever been in a vehicle, other than a van, where you sit so close to the front of the thing! And it was just so light, thin, and fragile that you could probably get the same effect by taking a golf cart and taping cardboard to the sides to close it in.

    Back in college one of my friends had a Ford Festiva. Another little cardboard box on wheels. That sucker was surprisingly roomy inside, but I just couldn't shake that vulnerable feeling.

    Those things back then also had tiny little tires on narrow little rims, so they didn't handle all that well either. Plus they were slow, and all that just came crashing down on them, adding to that vulnerable feeling.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,588
    Andre, those little pieces of crap have nothing in common with the modern subcompact---modern engineering, safety devices and efficient mass production put old cars like a Festiva in a different universe than a Honda Fit. In those days, the philosophy was to cobble together the cheapest possible platform by a combination of de-contenting existing models, raiding the parts shelves, and using platforms from aging creaky older models.

    Nowadays, we get a subcompact designed from the ground up. Sure, you can't give someone a $25,000 car for $13,000---but as Henry Ford once proved almost 100 years ago, you can give them a well-built, reliable, and very useful car for not a lot of money.

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