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Old 02-28-2010, 04:08 PM   #1
shikataganai
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OMGHi2U Car weight and MPG over the years

I whipped together some data about automobile curb weight and MPG over the years, as I wanted to see for myself whether the perception that cars have become thirstier and larger is true. It turns out that the latter is most definitely true but not necessarily the former, at least for the hopefully-representative few models that I picked.

Data were sourced from Edmunds and Fueleconomy.gov. Charts are original content by this author, shikataganai, not stolen from some other site.









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Old 02-28-2010, 04:14 PM   #2
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Interesting, but just imagine the fuel economy if the weights would go down.
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:16 PM   #3
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Was the mpg measured using the same test procedures and standards?
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Kubek View Post
Was the mpg measured using the same test procedures and standards?
Yep, all are reported under the revised 2008 EPA testing standards, data straight from the horse's mouth (EPA via fueleconomy.gov).
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:29 PM   #5
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im actually surprised at some of the weight data. I can tell you that the 2003 accord data looks to be shy by about 300lbs.
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:36 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by owace View Post
im actually surprised at some of the weight data. I can tell you that the 2003 accord data looks to be shy by about 300lbs.
http://www.edmunds.com/used/2003/hon...093/specs.html
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:52 PM   #7
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How does this correlate to anything? Engines are not the same over the years for a specific model, neither is the body style. When aerodynamics and engine efficiency are not constants how does this tell us anything? It would be interesting to see the numbers by swapping engines from the 90 and 08 Accords or the the same for any of the other models listed.
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Old 02-28-2010, 05:08 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by gagliano View Post
How does this correlate to anything? Engines are not the same over the years for a specific model, neither is the body style. When aerodynamics and engine efficiency are not constants how does this tell us anything? It would be interesting to see the numbers by swapping engines from the 90 and 08 Accords or the the same for any of the other models listed.
Weight is a proxy for physical size and density of required and simply tacked-on extra equipment such as emissions controls, powered seats, airbags up the wazoo, strong A-pillars and the like. What my admittedly very rudimentary graphs show, and which surprised me, is that improvements in all the other factors (efficiency of the engine, more speeds on transmissions, better aerodynamics, etc.) basically have compensated for the increased girth in nominally equivalent models over the years.
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Old 02-28-2010, 05:51 PM   #9
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good data, but for comparing data over a period of time, line graphs ftw
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Old 02-28-2010, 06:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by aferrari88 View Post
good data, but for comparing data over a period of time, line graphs ftw
I agree, but at first glance I couldn't figure out how to use two different y-axes for line graphs in my old version of Excel.
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Old 02-28-2010, 06:08 PM   #11
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Dont knock airbags up the wazoo till you have to use them...

You will be rather thankful for them saving your wazoo.
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Old 02-28-2010, 06:34 PM   #12
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Dont knock airbags up the wazoo till you have to use them...

You will be rather thankful for them saving your wazoo.
My mention of their inclusion is not knocking them! I'm a big fan of tighter emissions controls and additional safety equipment, and am glad that there still exist options out there like my wife's Fit that let one get a safe, economical package without the truly extraneous fluff. Airbags aren't fluff, as I can personally attest:

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Old 02-28-2010, 06:59 PM   #13
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It'd be interesting to see the performance as well. My 1.8L 1993 Impreza AWD was downright dangerous when trying to merge onto WV's 70mph interstates when things were a little crowded. I'm willing to bet that the 0-60 performance is significantly better than 20 years ago, even on the 4cyl models.
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Old 02-28-2010, 07:31 PM   #14
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shikataganai, good work! A couple of things don't jive though. First, you're mixing engines in almost all vehicles (i.e. Mustang engine switched from 5.0L to 4.6L in 1995, Camry motor switched from 2.0L to 2.2L to 2.4L to 2.5L in 2010). Also, for even more interesting data, compare the ratings on the automatics. Almost 100% across the board the economy has improved, very drastically in some cases.
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Old 02-28-2010, 08:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BOY View Post
shikataganai, good work! A couple of things don't jive though. First, you're mixing engines in almost all vehicles (i.e. Mustang engine switched from 5.0L to 4.6L in 1995, Camry motor switched from 2.0L to 2.2L to 2.4L to 2.5L in 2010). Also, for even more interesting data, compare the ratings on the automatics. Almost 100% across the board the economy has improved, very drastically in some cases.
Yeah, things did change. All but the Mustang were base models, manual transmission, smallest engine offered.
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:15 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by quentinberg007 View Post
It'd be interesting to see the performance as well. My 1.8L 1993 Impreza AWD was downright dangerous when trying to merge onto WV's 70mph interstates when things were a little crowded. I'm willing to bet that the 0-60 performance is significantly better than 20 years ago, even on the 4cyl models.


Not as easy to read but workable. Note the big step backwards of the 4.6L 1994 Mustang GT . Whoops, Fordů
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:57 PM   #17
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I think I could have used that power to weight chart in an argument a while ago. Thanks for putting them together. I don't know why some people have such a negative attitude about them, you can pick apart any set of data if you don't like it.

Arguments like "well they use different engines now than before" No ****, that's kind of the point. Although the cars have gotten heavier/bigger, it seems like some of the manufacturers have been able to keep the same efficiency by using different engine technologies and increasing aerodynamic efficiency.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:04 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thestig2284 View Post
Interesting, but just imagine the fuel economy if the weights would go down.
Yeah, engines sizes could go down as well.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:12 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Tim-H View Post
I think I could have used that power to weight chart in an argument a while ago. Thanks for putting them together. I don't know why some people have such a negative attitude about them, you can pick apart any set of data if you don't like it.

Arguments like "well they use different engines now than before" No ****, that's kind of the point. Although the cars have gotten heavier/bigger, it seems like some of the manufacturers have been able to keep the same efficiency by using different engine technologies and increasing aerodynamic efficiency.

If you're going to compare data, the data must be comparable.
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:38 PM   #20
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Nice data. It shows how technology has come a long way. Even though weight has gone up, due to safety and more equipment, fuel consumption has maintained and even decreased.

Yes a car would have even better gas mileage if it is made lighter, but in reality, no one is going to buy a 2010 Civic that has the features and safety of a 93 Civic. If you want a lighter civic, strip it out, or buy a old car, simple as that
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shikataganai View Post
Not as easy to read but workable. Note the big step backwards of the 4.6L 1994 Mustang GT . Whoops, Fordů
Actually, the 4.6 modular came in 1996. '94 was still the 5.0
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:52 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by BOY View Post
If you're going to compare data, the data must be comparable.
depends on what you're comparing. If you're comparing how car manufacturers have adapted to the added weight of their vehicles(which is what that chart does) it's just fine.
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Old 02-28-2010, 11:52 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by 4wdwrx View Post
Nice data. It shows how technology has come a long way. Even though weight has gone up, due to safety and more equipment, fuel consumption has maintained and even decreased.

Yes a car would have even better gas mileage if it is made lighter, but in reality, no one is going to buy a 2010 Civic that has the features and safety of a 93 Civic. If you want a lighter civic, strip it out, or buy a old car, simple as that
Mmmmm, but we have also come to expect more out of our cars. 20 years ago the standard was to have your bread and butter 4 cylinder sedan hit 60 MPH in 9 to 10 seconds. Today we balk at the sedans that do it in more than 8 seconds. I can't believe the Impreza is only offered with the 2.5L. I like the option of the 170 model, however I think a 150 HP 2.2L geared toward efficiency would do well in today's market. And Im not sure why it was ever taken away from the Impreza.

And now we have cars like the Camry and Accord with 270 HP V6 options. Ok I understand the appeal of the V6, but these aren't supposed to be sports cars and I don't understand the need for that kind of power. However, the market has taken us there. No automaker is going to soley go backwards and sacrafice the competitive advantage. Will we have a 300 HP Camry in the next 5 years? God, I hope not.
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Old 02-28-2010, 11:53 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim-H View Post
If you're comparing how car manufacturers have adapted to the added weight of their vehicles(which is what that chart does) it's just fine.
All you can do with the data is what the OP originally stated about mpg increasing/maintaining while vehicle weight increased. Other's have posted wondering how they've adapted. For instance what makes the biggest difference? Is it engine efficiency or aerodynamics.

You can't compare how the manufacturers adapted because there are too many variables, which was BOY's point as well.

shikataganai, do you have data that covers a single model that kept the same size engine over several years? That would be an interesting one....
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Old 02-28-2010, 11:56 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gagliano View Post
shikataganai, do you have data that covers a single model that kept the same size engine over several years? That would be an interesting one....
The Subaru Legacy has been using the EJ25 for four generations now....
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