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clarkma5
Here is a list of cars that, I think, are way faster than they need to be available to the general public for reasonable prices:

Chevrolet Malibu 3.6 V6: 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.1 seconds @ 92.9 MPH
Chevrolet Silverado w/ 6.0 liter V8: 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.5 seconds @ 88.1 MPH
GMC Sierra w/ 6.2 liter V8: 6.5 second 0-60, 1/4 mile in 15.0 seconds @ 92.1 MPH
GMC Yukon XL Denali: 6.9 second 0-60, 1/4 mile in 15.03 seconds @ 91.7 MPH
Honda Accord V6: 0-60 in 7.0 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.3 seconds @ 95.4 MPH
Hyundai Azera: 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.5 seconds @ 92.2 MPH
Lexus ES350: 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.2 seconds @ 94.6 MPH
Lexus GS450h: 5.6 second 0-60, 1/4 mile in 13.68 seconds @ 104.23 MPH
Lexus LX570: 7.2 second 0-60, 1/4 mile in 15.8 seconds
Mercedes ML550: 0-60 in 5.6 seconds
Nissan Altima 3.5: 0-60 in 6.8 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.2 seconds @ 94.8 MPH
Nissan Pathfinder V6: 0-60 in 7 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.3 seconds @ 90.5 MPH
Saturn Aura 3.6: 0-60 in 6.4 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.9 seconds @ 95 MPH
Toyota Avalon: 0-60 in 6.9 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.4 seconds @ 95.7 MPH
Toyota Camry 3.5 V6: 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.6 seconds @ 97.3 MPH
Toyota RAV4 V6: 0-60 in 7.1 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.16 seconds @ 91.15 MPH
Toyota Tunda 5.7: 0-60 in 6.3 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.8 seconds @ 93.7 MPH
Volkswagen Passat 3.6: 0-60 in 6.6 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.7 seconds @ 98.3 MPH

And that's really only scratching the surface...I tried to avoid pointing out the performance of high-performance or super-luxury models, because that's a bit of a "no duh". For the most part, these are non-performance vehicles, often utility vehicles, with a good chunk of mass that are driven in ways that do not need to be able to pull off 14 to 15 second quarters...hell, that's old-school muscle car territory, not to mention the realm of the modern hot hatch and the surprisingly recent sports car (think mid '90s...these are some BIG performance numbers for just 10-15 years ago).

So do you think this abundance of horsepower is a good thing, or too much of a good thing? I'd be interested to hear thoughts on the subject.
moe
I don't mind tbh. If they can deliver those numbers while offering better fuel economy, and emissions why not?
clarkma5
You let a car be a second slower from 0-60 (and a 0-60 time in the vicinity of 8 seconds for a non-enthusiast machine is still PLENTY quick) and your emissions and fuel economy are just going to be that much better.

My main complaint isn't so much that modern cars don't NEED this much power, but that in many cases, particularly in front-wheel drive cars, they can't consistently USE that much power, which makes it both unnecessary and useless, a less-than-desirable combo.

Also, I've read some things about big motors in big vehicles like the Toyota Tundra "doing their best work above 100 MPH". I mean, how unnecessary is THAT? We don't need 100+ MPH pickup trucks, at least not in mainstream models.
moe
^ I'll agree with that 100%
fiber optic
It's all marketing. The bastard 40 horse VW is still a viable car to drive. For around town it really doesn't matter. Merging onto the interstate you need a bit more of a run-up though.
Mitlov
Didn't someone around here used to have a signature line "I remember when 300 hp was fast"? I couldn't agree more.

I think the problem is particularly frustrating in non-enthusiast cars, where technology and engine efficiency has skyrocketed in the past couple decades, but cars aren't any more fuel-efficient. They're just faster. Now that gas prices are high enough to be a real concern to people, I'd love to know how many other people would add 30% to their economy car/minivan/family sedan's 0-60 time if they could also add 30% to its fuel economy. I'll bet you that the percentage is well above 50% right now.
Tony Two Shoes
QUOTE(clarkma5 @ Aug 10 2008, 05:10 PM) *

ohdear.gif I need to get me one of those there pick 'em up trucks.

But at least with most of the vehicles you listed, more reasonable and economical engines are offered. And a large percentage of people who buy these cars do pick the smaller engines.
clarkma5
Yes, most vehicles here are the top-of-the-line engines. However, in a lot of family sedans, you get to pick between the 4-cylinder and the 6-cylinder. Now, 4-cylinders these days are adequate and economical, however, a lot of car manufacturers still make you go for the bigger motor to get certain features.
MustangAficionado
I agree. Plus you have people is moderate sports cars from the eighties and 90's who have the same or less power output than normal v6 sedan carsof today. The power is unchanged, yet the platform is a mushy pile of body roll than I can't see how it's not causing more soccer moms or 15 year old drivers to end up in a ditch.
And i know the IS350 is the performance model, but most people buy it just because it the next step up - and they end up driving around a car that until this past year could blow my mustang's doors off getting onto a freeway; that's just depressing.
Mitlov
QUOTE(MustangAficionado @ Aug 10 2008, 08:49 PM) *
I agree. Plus you have people is moderate sports cars from the eighties and 90's who have the same or less power output than normal v6 sedan carsof today. The power is unchanged, yet the platform is a mushy pile of body roll than I can't see how it's not causing more soccer moms or 15 year old drivers to end up in a ditch.
And i know the IS350 is the performance model, but most people buy it just because it the next step up - and they end up driving around a car that until this past year could blow my mustang's doors off getting onto a freeway; that's just depressing.


For the record, the Lexus IS is anything but a "mushy pile of body roll," particularly with the optional sport suspension. The handling on the IS250 (with said suspension) was brilliant IMO. Here's a more professional assessment:

QUOTE
On meandering roads, the IS 350 becomes a weapon, as the carís agile nature comes to the fore. The steering is super quick, and when combined with a rigid body structure and optional sport suspension, turn-in response is good. The transmissionís manual mode works well, allowing the driver to change gears with paddles behind the steering wheel, ŗ la Formula 1. Although not as fast as manual-based transmissions like BMWís SMG and Audiís DSG, gear changes were quick and precise. The IS 350 exhibits razor-sharp reflexes through left/right transitions, as evidenced by its 66.7-mph slalom run, but through tight turns, the Lexus has an overwhelming tendency to understeer. In fact, itís a task getting the rear end out, even with traction and yaw control switched off. Its overanxious penchant for going straight showed in the IS 350ís skidpad performance, as it registered a mediocre 0.84g.

ďThe IS 350 handles relatively well for a sports sedan, but has a noticeably safe setup, as it understeers when pushed to its limits. That isnít to say that it wonít oversteer, especially with the stability control completely turned off. It just has to be deliberately induced,Ē Elfalan noted.
* * *
Although you wouldnít know it by looking at the ratings chart, this was one of the most closely contested battles in recent memory. One small variation here or there could easily have swung the result in a different direction. For example, what if our G35 Sport was equipped with an automatic transmission? What if our driving route consisted of more stretches of Interstate than twisting roads? The answer to these questions will be found on another day, but for now, the Lexus IS 350 is the king of the Japanese sports-sedan hill.


Road and Track: TL Type S versus G35 versus IS350
dukenukem
Making these cars less powerful seems sort of a communist idea. If someone wants better gas mileage then they wont be burning rubber all the time or will opt for the 4banger version.
clarkma5
QUOTE(dukenukem @ Aug 10 2008, 09:18 PM) *
Making these cars less powerful seems sort of a communist idea. If someone wants better gas mileage then they wont be burning rubber all the time or will opt for the 4banger version.


I'm not saying it should be regulated, I'm saying it's more of an issue of marketing gone wrong and a sense of engineering balance having been lost from the equation.
OHirtenfelder
I agree with what is being said, but in the end, what it really boils down to, is what do people want. I'm not familiar with all those cars that clarkma5 mentioned, but as is the case with most cars that are available here in South Africa(which is alot), there is ALMOST always a much cheaper-to-run, fuel efficient model. The idiot that buys the BMW 335i instead of the 320i, and then only uses it to trundle around town, is just stupid.
I'm not sure what it's like in the US, but here in SA the status that a car 'gives' a person is so much more important than anything else(read price, fuel economy, servicing costs, etc.), and this is why people will buy the bigger car, that has mor kW and a faster 0-100 time, just to be better.

And on a slightly differetn note, butstill kinda the same, I recently drove the new Merc SL65AMG V12 Bi-Turbo (450kW, 1000Nm). I tell you it is stupid, it is so incredibly stupid. That amount of power is just too much for most mortal people to handle. Even with the traction control on, it's just stupid, from pull off in 1st, all the way through the entire rev range, the traction control light is just flickering non stop. This continues all the way through 2nd and 3rd (I didnt get past third, as I was already travelling at around 170km/h). What the F*CK is the point of all the power, if all the car has to do, is constantly fight it to keep it in check. Why not give the car less power ,and make better use of it, aswell as keep down emissions and fuel consumption. I tell you what the reason is, so that the owner of the 65AMG can go to the owner of the 500 and say, hey my cock is smaller than yours, but fuck me my car is bigger. God damn it, now I'm just angry, probably at the fact that I dont have a 65AMG.
Oh well, I hope I made some sort of sense...
Cheers
johnny.msyl.25
Well there are 2 points in my mind.

Less performance and more mileage is the better option off for the market IMO. Now people wants a car that burns less fuel, although the performance to mileage ratio is good as Moe said. The global warming is a big issue in this world, hence higher MPG is better.

But, there are people out there who loves good driving dynamics and the performance offered by the cars. They might have a family, so they need a car that can bring them fun and also as a transport for the family. Then they need a performance saloon or estate.

It all depends on personal demand, but I think people nowadays need higher MPG than performance.
moe
I just remembered. Didn't the '08 Accord get bigger, heavier, more powerful, yet more fuel efficient, with lower emissions? I really can't argue with that.
johnny.msyl.25
That's a good one. I can't blame Honda for that too. The technology is accelerating faster than before.
redls1bird
We really have come along way in volumetric efficiency in modern engines. We've got all sorts of gadgets and gizmos that help us up our hp numbers, but, most people forget (or just plain dont know) it takes FUEL to make power. The amount of power you can make is limited to the amount of fuel you can burn, which is limited to the amount of air you can mix with it properly to promote good combustion. The bottom line is the higher the hp output numbers, the lower fuel economy will be when using it.

In reality, does a tundra need to go 0-60 in under 7 seconds? No. Your tackle box, empty beer cans and whatever else you might have in the back will go flying out. People in america seem to forgotten what they need, and just want it all. Its Gluttonous. We need tvs the size of walls, hamburgers the size of basketballs and Saturns that can run the 1/4 in less than 15.
Synesthesia
Does this discussion really make since for trucks? After all, if you carry really heavy loads or tow really heavy things all that power/torque is used for a different purpose than going fast.
fiber optic
QUOTE(redls1bird @ Aug 11 2008, 08:35 AM) *
We really have come along way in volumetric efficiency in modern engines.


I disagree.
The standard tricks for increased VE have been known for a while. I think that CAD work for combustion chamber and intake design have helped a little. Turbos and superchargers have been in use for quite a while as well, at least in the aftermarket. While I don't know any actual VE numbers I'd be willing to guess they've remained relatively constant for the past 30 years.
Mitlov
QUOTE(moethepaki @ Aug 11 2008, 03:42 AM) *
I just remembered. Didn't the '08 Accord get bigger, heavier, more powerful, yet more fuel efficient, with lower emissions? I really can't argue with that.


I can argue with anything wink.gif Sure, it's bigger, heavier, more powerful, AND more fuel efficient. Clearly the efficiency of the engine improved. Now imagine how much MORE fuel efficient it would be if it hadn't gotten bigger and heavier and more powerful? Yes, fuel economy improved this generation, but it could have improved a whole lot more if they hadn't made the car a Buick.
350Z
To me it just comes down to getting what you want instead of what you need.
redls1bird
QUOTE(fiber optic @ Aug 11 2008, 06:24 AM) *
I disagree.
The standard tricks for increased VE have been known for a while. I think that CAD work for combustion chamber and intake design have helped a little. Turbos and superchargers have been in use for quite a while as well, at least in the aftermarket. While I don't know any actual VE numbers I'd be willing to guess they've remained relatively constant for the past 30 years.


Im referring more to the tuned length intakes, and exhausts, variable intake lenghts, variable camshaft profiles, lean burn technology, so on and so forth. Things that can net an over 100% VE. Not so much "new" ideas, just stuff from the racing industry introduced on road cars. If your not sure that weve come along way from a 8:1 compression carbed v-8, then we are not comparing apples to apples.
dukenukem
QUOTE(clarkma5 @ Aug 11 2008, 01:09 AM) *
I'm not saying it should be regulated, I'm saying it's more of an issue of marketing gone wrong and a sense of engineering balance having been lost from the equation.

the current marketing trend is to bang on about fuel economy and save the earth for small cars. I dont see how they are going to sell these gigantic cars on their fuel economy numbers so the next best thing is power numbers. As far as engineering balance .. the lighter is better mantra is catching on but its still too expensive to implement it on cars where sticker price is very critical to their success but it will happen sooner or later.
MustangAficionado
QUOTE(Mitlov @ Aug 10 2008, 09:00 PM) *
For the record, the Lexus IS is anything but a "mushy pile of body roll," particularly with the optional sport suspension. The handling on the IS250 (with said suspension) was brilliant IMO. Here's a more professional assessment:
Road and Track: TL Type S versus G35 versus IS350

Wow, you really took that correlation and ran with it - i wasn't (or wasn't trying to) infer the Lexus IS series at all. If you remember I said sedans, i like the IS-350's a lot.
clarkma5
QUOTE(moethepaki @ Aug 11 2008, 03:42 AM) *
I just remembered. Didn't the '08 Accord get bigger, heavier, more powerful, yet more fuel efficient, with lower emissions? I really can't argue with that.


Yeah, it did, but now it's a class bigger than it was two generations ago.

Also, more power is a circular thing. They put in more power, which usually means the engine is bigger and heavier (not always, of course) and they have to beef up drivetrain and chassis components to handle it, so the car gains weight, which eats into the advantage of the bigger motor, which means the motor has to get bigger, which means the drivetrain and chassis have to get beefed up more, which means the engine has to get bigger, etc. etc. etc...

I don't recall people complaining about 200 HP 3.0 liter V6 Accords being slow just 5 years ago. Sure, the latest, greatest 3.5 liter model is bigger, badder, faster, and just as clean and economical to run, but what if history had taken a different course and, instead of using all our new technological refinement to make the car bigger and badder with minimal effect on consumption and emissions, to use those same advancements to make the car cleaner and more economical with minimal effect on practicality and spaciousness? That's sorta what I'm getting at. Yeah, people are still buying the Accord (and other power-crazy mid-sized sedans), but they would all be selling just as well AND be more socially and environmentally responsible, as well as more reasonable for most consumers, if they had gone a different path.

QUOTE(redls1bird @ Aug 11 2008, 06:35 AM) *
In reality, does a tundra need to go 0-60 in under 7 seconds? No. Your tackle box, empty beer cans and whatever else you might have in the back will go flying out. People in america seem to forgotten what they need, and just want it all. Its Gluttonous. We need tvs the size of walls, hamburgers the size of basketballs and Saturns that can run the 1/4 in less than 15.

I dunno if it's always been this way and I was too naive to notice in my younger years, or if it really has gotten worse, but Americans by and large want everything, and they want it now, and they want it super-sized and on sale. All sense of proportion or reasonableness has gone out the window. I hear it all the time..."oh, once a year we go skiing so we need AWD" or "sometimes we take the neighbor's kids camping with us so we need 7 seats"...totally neglecting that you don't need that stuff 99% of the time.


QUOTE(Synesthesia @ Aug 11 2008, 07:01 AM) *
Does this discussion really make since for trucks? After all, if you carry really heavy loads or tow really heavy things all that power/torque is used for a different purpose than going fast.


Big utility vehicles like the Toyota Tundra have a good reason for having big, gutsy motors...however, most people buy full-sized pickup trucks for relatively light use and mostly commute with them and treat them like cars, making the huge motor total overkill. Now, you can get a Tundra with a smaller V8 (which actually gets worse mileage at the moment, but still) or with a V6, but Toyota leaves several desirable options only for the big, top-dog motor (in fact in the case of the Tundra, you can only get the two smaller motors with one of the three bed sizes and in the lowest of the three trim levels, and you can't get the V6 with 4WD or a crewcab).

Also, since I like picking on the Tundra so much, the 5.7 liter V8 has a lot of power but from everything I've read it comes alive higher in the rev range and is geared such that it does its best performing at high revs and high speeds, which is NOT where you want your grunt when you're towing/hauling big stuff.
Ozi
I had this same argument with my dad. I have not read the replies yet but it seems that our standards are getting higher. We have heavy cars + huge engines not worth it. Compare us to Australia where their cars start less than 1 L engine. If we all drove like that, we would have better fuel economy, emissions, etc... But our standards I guess can not be controlled, hence the free market comes in. I agree totally with you clark.
Benny
Australia is full of torque.
Mitlov
QUOTE(Ozi @ Aug 11 2008, 09:10 PM) *
I had this same argument with my dad. I have not read the replies yet but it seems that our standards are getting higher. We have heavy cars + huge engines not worth it. Compare us to Australia where their cars start less than 1 L engine. If we all drove like that, we would have better fuel economy, emissions, etc... But our standards I guess can not be controlled, hence the free market comes in. I agree totally with you clark.


Did someone say Australia?



clarkma5
I think in Australia the high-performance niche vehicle is alive and well, but they have far more in the way of economical offerings for the typical driver.

I'm not trying to get into performance models here. Performance cars need grunt, and though the high-end horsepower wars could be debated, I was merely trying to evaluate the presence of excessive horsepower in non-enthusiast mainstream machinery.
McKhaos
I've never understood this american obsession with bigger is better.
Take the Opel/Saturn Astra. In Europe, the base model is a 90 hp diesel. In America, it's a 138 hp 1.8 petrol. Why? I have a 120 hp diesel and am more than happy with the way it drives.
Mazdaspeed
I agree that the average car doesn't need a 0-60 of less than, say 8 secs. Your average driver doesn't mash the throttle at any time other than merging onto the highway.

That being said, and delving into the performance world... 4-5 years ago anyone that had a 300whp STI or EVO had a pretty damn fast car. My best friend just finished building his 2.3l stroked EVO8 and if it dynos anything less than 425whp he's gonna get a big "MEH" from me haha. 5 years ago it would go more along the lines oh "OMGOMGOMG HOLY SHIT OMG OMG."
moe
My car's got a 1.6L, and it scoots along fine IMO. In the US, the smallest engine for the Mazda3 is the 2.0. We don't even get that engine...
infinity
Well for a start diesels just aren't as common/popular in the US as just about every other market in the world, so the slightly larger "petrol" engines are always the base models. Most cars in the US are larger than other international markets, so a 1.6L engine might not provide adequate grunt for an "average" sized car here.

I agree that a number of the cars from the first post don't need as much power as they do, but I think its all about competition and advertising. Even to a soccer mom who doesn't know what a "horsepower" really is, a bigger number will be more appealing during advertising. Especially during TV ads that compare the car A to car B, bigger HP numbers are just another persuasive figure to win over a potential buyer. Do I think a Chevy Impala needs to be able to haul ass like that? No, but if they can say they've got X hp more than say, a Camry, someone might lean towards the Impala instead. Is it logical? Not really...but thats the way it is.
hexagone
Fatter people, fatter cars, fatter engines, and fatter $$$$

This IS America after all.
clarkma5
Well there is SOME logic behind the US having more grunt in their cars...we've got a much larger country to criss-cross. You take Interstate 80 across the Nevada desert or drive I-5 down the length of California and you won't want to be in some little box with a 80 HP engine that's pulling 4200 RPM to go the speed limit. In other words, we drive proportionally more highway miles than city miles as a country, which is partially due to our total inability to build functional high-density areas, but is also due to the fact that America is just so damned...big.

Still, you don't need 250 HP to do 75 on the highway.
moe
QUOTE(infinity935 @ Aug 12 2008, 09:58 PM) *
Most cars in the US are larger than other international markets, so a 1.6L engine might not provide adequate grunt for an "average" sized car here.


They're pretty much the same in the ME, but we get smaller engines despite the cheap gas. My Mazda3 isn't any smaller than the one in the US.
infinity
QUOTE(moethepaki @ Aug 12 2008, 07:06 PM) *
They're pretty much the same in the ME, but we get smaller engines despite the cheap gas. My Mazda3 isn't any smaller than the one in the US.
Well yeah I wasn't saying overseas models are smaller than the same model here, just that, in general, vehicles in the US are larger than pretty much everywhere else in the world. Also, Clarkma has a good point about the US being so damn big. Lots of highways do call for larger engines.
darinzon
i was driving today and thinking. my car weighs 2 tons and has 150 horsepower. and i'm usually satisfied with its acceleration.. which is weird because everything i've driven before this (on the track) has been much quicker. i wouldn't want someone that isn't track-trained reaching the type of speeds that my car can hit.. with such low horsepower! most people have no idea what they're doing when going fast, that's what scares me. anyone follow?
Halflifehavock13
Recently, I timed my prizm doing 0-60 in about 15 seconds. After ditching the blazer and switching full time to the prizm, the transition was tough at first (I especially missed the ondemand torque). However, as time progressed, I've grown to deal with the loss of power and it's helped me greatly adjust my driving habits (especially having to deal with that fucking transmission). Living in my part of michigan, I enter and exit highways very often and rarely stay at a constant speed. Now, I can't imagine myself ever needing a faster car (albeit I'd love one). It makes me appreciate driving cars that would be considered fairly slow even by today's standards. With that said, I do think that modern day commuter cars (not sports cars) could use a 'detuning' of sorts, what with the gas crisis and whatnot.
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