Topic #4 – Fuel Economy

Posted: December 6, 2007 in soap box, technology, vehicles

I’ve always been a junkie for compact cars. I currently drive a 2002 Mazda Protege LX, which looks very much like the one picture to the left. I bought it new. It now has about 85,000 miles. I’ve always gotten about 29-30 mpg from it.
I’m now pretty totally enamoured with the Honda Fit. Awesome car. 35 mpg, tons of room, sporty, great standard features, air bags all the way around, and really fun to drive.

In my vehicle history, I’ve owned a 1987 Ford Escort, a 1994 Mazda Protege, a 1998 Mazda Protege, and a couple of compact pickups for a short time. So, for most of my driving life, I’ve gotten about 30 mpg….and I really like it.

What’s very frustrating is to know that fuel economy is the USA could be much better.

Get this… 2007, only TWO cars in the US got an average of at least 40 mpg…the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybid. In Europe in 2007, 113 cars got at least an average of 40 mpg. That’s right. 113 different cars.
In 2007, the average mpg of ALL cars/light trucks on the road in the US ranged from 21-24 mpg. In Europe, 2007, the average mpg of ALL cars/light trucks on the road ranged from 40-43 mpg. That’s right…about 70% better than our vehicles. That’s ludicrous. Again, Capitalism bites us in the rear end. Not only that, but have you seen many pictures of the compact cars and trucks in Europe? They look way cooler, more stylish, and more sporty than their counterparts here do! And I’m not just talking about the 2 seater Smart cars. The best resource I can find to look at a sampling of different European cars is this page from Wiklipedia listing the Top 3 finishers the last several years in the European Car of the Year voting. Also, the Toyota Yaris has been gaining in popularity in the US over the last year. This car was released in Europe all the way back in 2000. This is a pretty normal trend, actually. Cool cars are released in Europe, gain popularity, then are released in “modified” versions here in the US…modified in the sense that they are rarely as good looking and get worse gas mileage. I truly cringe when I see the vast number of Hummers, Envoys, Expeditions, Suburbans, Sequoias, Armadas, Range Rovers, Durangos, and other gas guzzlers that rove our roads. And I don’t think people that drive these vehicles are bad people. It’s just that I’m a fuel economy kind of guy. And I hope I’ll have the sense and frugality to remain that way.

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