: "Great" fuel mileage... 2012 vs. 1981



Faded Crest
06-22-12, 11:22 AM
I think it is an interesting observation... Here is a list of the most fuel efficient cars of 2012 vs. the best of 1981. Very interesting. Not really a whole lot of difference, is there?... Especially after 31 years.

2012--------------CITY....HWY

Toyota Prius hybrid.......51.........48
Honda Civic hybrid .......44.........44
Lexus CT ...................43.........40
Honda Insight..............44.........41
Toyota Camry hybrid.....43........39
Ford Fusion hybrid........41.........36
Lincoln MKZ hybrid........41........36
Honda CRZ..................35........39
Hyundai Sonata hybrid...35........37
Kia Optima...................35........40
Scion iq......................36........37
Smart.........................34........38

1981---------------CITY.....HWY

1981 VW Rabbit...........40.........54
1981 VW Jetta............41..........57
1981 Toyota Starlet.....36..........50
1981 Isuzu I-Mark........41..........51
1981 Plymouth Turismo..30.........50
1981 Dodge Omni..........30.........50
1981 Toyota Tercel........36........48
1981 VW Dasher............36.........48
1981 Dodge Colt............34.........45
1981 Mazda GLC............35.........45
1981 Datsun 210...........31.........44
1981 Subaru..................32........44
1981 Ford Escort............28........44

vincentm
06-22-12, 11:39 AM
What about the chevette man? Lol

Faded Crest
06-22-12, 11:45 AM
^^^ Oh no!!! Flashback! :hide:

Looks like it didn't make the list... A 1984 Chevette with auto transmission says 23 city/30 highway. I think it did better than that, maybe 35 on the highway. Either way, not enough savings for the penalty of driving one of those things.... :lol:

Faded Crest
06-22-12, 11:53 AM
The numbers on fueleconomy.gov are very skewed. And of course, fuel mileage varies greatly depending on your driving habits. My '98 Eldorado's fuel data calculator has not been reset for about 2 months. I drive mostly light city/rural and my average mpg hovers right around 23 mpg overall. I am not a lead foot and have trained myself to drive conservatively over the years. On a road trip I usually reset the calculator and it is not uncommon for me to get over 30 mpg for several hours the entire time on the interstate.

When I had my '97 Lincoln Town Car, I averaged about 19 overall, but on extended interstate drives, I usually got 27-28 mpg. Got very similar mileage with 307 Broughams I have owned. Most average mid-size economy seem to get around 35 mpg on the road. If I can get around 30 in my Eldo, why on earth would I want to cram myself into a smaller car for just a couple more miles per gallon?

That being said, I wonder what I would get for mileage out of a smaller car with the way I drive. And I wonder how much of a factor it plays that you might need more throttle in a smaller engine car to keep at highway speeds.

gary88
06-22-12, 11:56 AM
Cars were also about 1000-1500lbs lighter back then, which makes the modern numbers a bit more impressive.

Faded Crest
06-22-12, 12:34 PM
^^^ The "Smart" car weighs less than a 1981 Rabbit but it is one of the least impressive on the list where mileage is concerned.

The Raven
06-22-12, 12:39 PM
^^^ The "Smart" car weighs less than a 1981 Rabbit but it is one of the least impressive on the list where mileage is concerned.

The smart car is a joke. You might as well just omit that one, along with the Mini Cooper.

Cars are significantly heavier now than they used to be...period.

You've also neglected to note that your 2012 list includes several midsize cars while the 1981 list has nothing but compacts and subs.

Faded Crest
06-22-12, 12:44 PM
^^^ I simply took the "top 10" fuel mileage cars listed in the link below... It's apples to apples. Best mileage vs. best mileage 2012 vs. 1981, regardless of size. But if you want to get a closer comparison, weight to weight, new cars still don't impress me.

The '81 Dodge Omni... 2205 lbs... 50 mpg hwy. 1981 Toyota Starlet... Weight-2,500 lbs... 50 mpg hwy. Isuzu I-Mark... Weight-2,200 lbs... 50 mpg hwy.

2012 Civic... 2,600 lbs. 44 mpg hwy. 2012 Honda Insight 2,700 lbs, 41 mpg hwy. 2012 Scion iq... weight 1900 lbs., 41 mpg hwy. Fuel economy has not improved much at all over the past 30 years. That is B.S. Fuel savings for being a hybrid is apples to oranges. I'm comparing gas to gas.

My point is that the real world benefit to buying a smaller car for fuel savings is GREATLY exaggerated. I'll keep my Eldorados.

http://www.thesupercars.org/top-cars/most-fuel-efficient-cars/

drewsdeville
06-22-12, 12:50 PM
We aren't comparing apples to oranges. Most of the newer cars listed are compact cars, but not economy cars. there's a difference. Those older cars you mention are true economy cars - basic, no options, 80hp or less, riding on bicycle tires. Their focus was cheap - Not only were they cheap to operate, they were also cheap to purchase. They were a set of wheels to get you from A to B without walking. Nothing more.

Even in basic trim, the newer ones listed are available with all kind of gadgetry that the old ones never came with. They are much heavier, and are much faster that the old economy cars. There's a focus on small size, but not necessarily cheap.

We don't have many true economy cars left, unfortunately. Even small cars are pretty quick and loaded like the old luxury barges. The true economy car has been lost and forgotten.

Faded Crest
06-22-12, 01:24 PM
^^^ And that isn't far from my whole point, Drew. The selling of great fuel mileage is an exaggerated claim today. Car makers make it a huge selling point when it is really nothing new. And my other point is that in terms of pure fuel mileage, we haven't really come that far. I think we can agree that a Smart Car and a Scion iq certainly qualify as true economy cars with weights of 1,650 lbs. and 1,900 lbs. respectively... But even they don't compare well to the 1981 cars in the same category... 38 and 37 hwy mpg compared to a VW Rabbit at 1,750 lbs. that got 54 mpg. Or even more telling, the Dodge Omni at 2,200 lbs. that got 50 mpg hwy. It can't all be flippantly written off to "cars are heavier today".

The underlying truth is that it takes a certain amount of fuel to propel a 2,000 lb. thing down the road.

M5eater
06-22-12, 01:34 PM
in terms of raw fuel economy, no, we haven't come far.

In terms of improving fuel economy in cars that are also;
A) safer
B) heavier
C) have better build quality
D) have more interior/comfort features
E) are faster/ ride & handle better
F) are overall more resource concienous (ie recylced materials, and mantiance intervules that are longer)

we've come a long way.


put any of the powertrains in a new car into an old one and you'd see large improvments appropriate to ICE's progress over the last 3 decades.

Submariner409
06-22-12, 01:34 PM
I've had a couple of weird ones - a '72 Volvo wagon, 4 cyl/4 speed that NEVER got better than 15.5 mpg highway. (Something about early emissions - burning gas to lower emissions ?), a '67 Cougar 289 auto 4bbl that consistently got 25+ highway, and my '65 Chevelle 327/350 4-speed posi (3.31:1) that never got over 18 highway.

"Economy" is like a lot of other quirks about things "car" - you can find rule-benders everywhere. The car buyers wanted the gadgets and widgets - just as many are not satisfied with their current cell phone, laptop, or TV setup - gotta have the latest and greatest ! As Pogo once ruminated: "We has met the enemy and they is us !"

.........and, FC, Your question on the deleted thread was answered twice in the Site News forum, and it was NOT removed by "a moderator".

Faded Crest
06-22-12, 01:37 PM
in terms of raw fuel economy, no, we haven't come far.

In terms of improving fuel economy in cars that are also;
A) safer
B) heavier
C) have better build quality
D) have more interior/comfort features
E) are faster/ ride & handle better
F) are overall more resource concienous (ie recylced materials, and mantiance intervules that are longer)

we've come a long way.


put any of the powertrains in a new car into an old one and you'd see large improvments appropriate to ICE's progress over the last 3 decades.

I can agree with this post 100%

Faded Crest
06-22-12, 01:41 PM
FC, Your question on the deleted thread was answered twice in the Site News forum, and it was NOT removed by "a moderator".

Thanks, Sub. Saw that after I started this one. I was frustrated that all my research got deleted. :annoyed:

Aron9000
06-22-12, 02:13 PM
The way the EPA calculates fuel economy back then vs now is totally different. I think since 2007 they've been using a more realistic test. I know the old test, like they used in 1981, they kept the a/c off and calculated highway mpg while cruising between 55-60mph. That might have been okay for 1981 when a lot of cars didn't have a/c and the national speed limit was 55.

thebigjimsho
06-22-12, 02:37 PM
In 1981, a Corvette had under 200hp and would do 0-60 between 8-9 seconds. If you were sub-10, you were quick.

If you sold stripped down cars that were light and did 0-60 in 15 seconds, I can GUARANDAMNTEE you a 80-100 mpg car...

thebigjimsho
06-22-12, 02:40 PM
In fact, look at Europe. They have sub-compacts with tiny hp and long accel numbers doing 75mpg.

In the US, our cars are bigger and the roads are bigger, more spread out and generally faster. Those sub-compacts would create chaos...

The Raven
06-22-12, 02:43 PM
In 1981, a Corvette had under 200hp and would do 0-60 between 8-9 seconds. If you were sub-10, you were quick.

If you sold stripped down cars that were light and did 0-60 in 15 seconds, I can GUARANDAMNTEE you a 80-100 mpg car...

There was an article probably 8 years ago about a guy who tried this...he used an LS1 in a tube frame chassis, with the Camaro geared T-56 and really tall rear gears. The resulting "car" weighed something like 1800lbs and still ran mid-13's all while getting around 82mpg highway. It would do 100mph in sixth gear at around 1000RPM. I can't imagine he had the guts to find the top speed of that thing though, since he built it in his garage.

drewsdeville
06-22-12, 02:45 PM
15 seconds in an '80's economy car - nice. That would put it on par with a craptastic TPI Camaro/Firebird from 10 years later.

CadillacLuke24
06-22-12, 02:56 PM
There was an article probably 8 years ago about a guy who tried this...he used an LS1 in a tube frame chassis, with the Camaro geared T-56 and really tall rear gears. The resulting "car" weighed something like 1800lbs and still ran mid-13's all while getting around 82mpg highway. It would do 100mph in sixth gear at around 1000RPM. I can't imagine he had the guts to find the top speed of that thing though, since he built it in his garage.

Hey, where there's a will, there's a way! I just think that I'm not quite that willing.

Faded Crest
06-22-12, 03:06 PM
In 1981, a Corvette had under 200hp and would do 0-60 between 8-9 seconds. If you were sub-10, you were quick.

If you sold stripped down cars that were light and did 0-60 in 15 seconds, I can GUARANDAMNTEE you a 80-100 mpg car...

Show me one example...

According to Popular Mechanics, the 2009 Mercedes A-Class is Europe's best in fuel economy for a gas engine with an 82 hp 4-cyl engine. It gets 52 mpg which is right on par with half the cars on the 1981 list.

brandondeleo
06-23-12, 04:52 AM
It's all pork. Cars are so fat today it's ridiculous.

gary88
06-23-12, 11:03 AM
According to Popular Mechanics, the 2009 Mercedes A-Class is Europe's best in fuel economy for a gas engine with an 82 hp 4-cyl engine. It gets 52 mpg which is right on par with half the cars on the 1981 list.

Right now in Europe you can buy a three cylinder diesel VW Polo that gets 80mpg (imperial, ~73 by US measurements) and can go ~840 miles on a tank.

http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/#/new/polo-v/which-model/engines/fuel-consumption/

Faded Crest
06-23-12, 11:14 AM
Right now in Europe you can buy a three cylinder diesel VW Polo that gets 80mpg (imperial, ~73 by US measurements) and can go ~840 miles on a tank.

http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/#/new/polo-v/which-model/engines/fuel-consumption/

I don't doubt that at all, tiny cars that get 60+mpg have been around for decades, but that is apples to oranges. I'm comparing 4 cyl, 2,000 lb. cars on the list of 1981 cars. to similar cars from 2012. Everybody wants to change the rules to prove me wrong, but they can't. Like I said before, it takes a certain amount of fuel to push a certain size and weight object down the road.

bigm57ict
06-23-12, 11:18 AM
The fact is, if the manufacturers made a car like those '80's econoboxes today (manual trans, no A/C, AM radio, no power options, vinyl and plastic interior), no one would buy it. Our standard expectations keep going up. When was the last time you considered power door locks to be a luxury option?

brandondeleo
06-23-12, 11:58 AM
The fact is, if the manufacturers made a car like those '80's econoboxes today (manual trans, no A/C, AM radio, no power options, vinyl and plastic interior), no one would buy it. Our standard expectations keep going up. When was the last time you considered power door locks to be a luxury option?
You're 100% right. We could have the same cars today, but who would go without A/C (voluntarily, Roo), power this and that, stereo... All of the things that we demand, on top of the ever-expanding safety and environmental restrictions, are pushing the weight of these cars through the roof.

orconn
06-23-12, 12:02 PM
The middle class's expectations keep going up, but their incomes and networth keep going down. Something has got to give!

Faded Crest
06-23-12, 12:09 PM
^^^ The children of the middle class want what their parents have right away... Same kind of house and cars that their 50+year old parents have. Many don't seem to understand that their parents struggled at that same young age and that it took decades of hard work for them to get into good financial shape.

When I was a little boy and my folks were in their mid 20's, we lived in a crappy apartment. My Dad made Dunkin' Donuts and worked making fries at McDonald's as a 2nd job and my Mom sold Avon in the neighborhood. My Dad is a 100% white collar guy, but he did what he had to do back then. It took until his 40's to get what would be considered a "nice house".

orconn
06-23-12, 12:24 PM
My wife has been a real estate agent for a few years and it has been amazing what an $80,000 income family feels they are entitled too .... and that was in addition to "their" (the banks) two new cars and power boat!

They honestly believe the had "earned" the right to have these things, when in fact they hadn't "earned" anything, just been encouraged by easy credit to which was not really theirs.

The silver lining in today's economic world is maybe many will find out that the absence of that new SUV or granite counter top really wasn't the end of the world after all!

Faded Crest
06-23-12, 12:33 PM
My wife likes to watch this show called something like "Our First Home" or something like that on HGTV. But it makes me want to :ack: 20-something year old spoiled brats turning up their noses at a 400,000 house because the snotty little princess says "It doesn't have a granite countertop, so that will have to be replaced".:dummy:

ShapeShifter
06-23-12, 12:42 PM
Too bad the late 80's offerings weren't considered. Then the dinky little Geo Metro's could have been included. IIRC, some of them were suppose to get 50+mpg.

Faded Crest
06-23-12, 12:49 PM
Weren't those cars 3 cylinders?

orconn
06-23-12, 12:52 PM
Truth of the matter is that those "twenty somethings" that got an Ivy League education (or equivalent) in certain fields can probably afford the $400,000 house when they have been out of school a few years .... the rest of their generation had better wake up and suck the cherry pits!

To buy any house today you actually have to be "qualified" and come up with a 20% down. It takes few years after college have both requirements in hand.

My wife watches those shows too, and to listen to the people talk you soon realize that their families had spent far to much time preparing their daughters for "princess-hood" and too little time preparing them for reality. "Hey, kid ever hear of a paint brush!"

Faded Crest
06-23-12, 01:01 PM
After what I have been through and have observed, I believe you need 100% of the price to truly be able to afford something, house, car, whatever. I have a friend whose parents faithfully paid their mortgage for over 30 years and wound up losing their house because of a bank error.

orconn
06-23-12, 02:57 PM
The incompetence and downright criminal activities that were taking place in the field of finance for the last couple of decades have hurt a lot of people. The honest, frugal people who have faithfully paid their bills and were careful not to live beyond their means have been the recipients of the same penalties and humiliations as those who have been living and borrowing beyond their means.

The misdeeds and outright fraud committed by the lending institutions, both in their lending practices and in the unethical and unlawful practices they used in foreclosure proceedings against borrowers was commonplace. And in my opinion the banks and other financial institutions who were responsible for these practices have not been held responsible for the criminal activities, much less the breech of public trust, that these businesses fostered, and were allowed to foster due to the deregulation of many of the laws, put in place following the "great Crash of 1929," to protect the public and the economy from the excesses that always take place when there is too much money to made buying and selling financial instruments.

The economic disaster which has beset the world in the last six years was foreseeable, but those who foresaw the dangers lurking were ignored because the money on Wall Street bought Washington's complicity.

Those who were trained under the old financial rules and regulations knew we were headed for trouble. First when the savings and loan debacle of the 1980's proved that fewer regulations, broader financial opportunities, and less regulatory oversight meant the unethical and criminal would seize the opportunity to take advantage of the situation for their own gain.

Unfortunately many in the American public forget that the rules and regulations came into being to protect the rights and interests of people like your friend's parents who lost their house, from the criminal activity of the ignorant or just plain evil among us!

Faded Crest
06-23-12, 03:11 PM
Well I don't care to go into it in too much detail, but my wife and I have been dealing with a bank whose actions have been absolutely criminal. In part of an attempted negotiation they admitted it to me and I only wish I had taped my conversations with them. However, without leverage of our own to pursue the matter, the bank has gotten away with it. It has cost us more than I want to think about. My lesson is this... You do not own anything until you hold the deed or title. And even then there are unconstitutional imminent domain laws.

gdwriter
06-23-12, 04:12 PM
Back to fuel economy for a moment, the 4-cylinder, 4-speed '74 Celica I drove through high school and college averaged around 22 MPG, with high 20s on a road trip. That's what I get now with my Seville. Plus, by 125,000 miles, the Celica was essentially falling apart, with one thing after another breaking down — and I took good care of the car. I'm at that mileage with the Seville, and it still runs like a new car. +1 for progress.

Faded Crest
06-23-12, 04:19 PM
^^^ gdwriter, I wholeheartedly agree. That is my entire point. The fuel mileage of a full size luxury car like your Seville, my Eldorado, and others is so good today, that there is just no practical reason to sacrifice the comfort in driving something small for better fuel economy. :thumbsup:

Conversely, while the fuel mileage of large cars is quite impressive, the fuel mileage of smaller cars really has not gotten any better at all over the past 30 years, reasons notwithstanding.

ShapeShifter
06-23-12, 07:19 PM
Weren't those cars 3 cylinders?
Yes. Sort of impressive then, not so much today based on the reasons stated earlier.

thebigjimsho
06-24-12, 02:57 AM
I don't doubt that at all, tiny cars that get 60+mpg have been around for decades, but that is apples to oranges. I'm comparing 4 cyl, 2,000 lb. cars on the list of 1981 cars. to similar cars from 2012. Everybody wants to change the rules to prove me wrong, but they can't. Like I said before, it takes a certain amount of fuel to push a certain size and weight object down the road.Change the rules?? Why don't you quit changing them? Nowhere in your first post do you say ANYTHING about 4 cyl cars...

Faded Crest
06-24-12, 08:06 AM
All the cars on the list were 4 cyl. Just trying to compare apples to apples. I'm sure there were 3 cyl. European cars back then too. Isetta got 40+ mpg. (50 imp. mpg)

By the way, when quoting fuel mileage numbers, are you converting from imperial MPG to US MPG? European cars are listed in IMP MPG. There is a BIG difference... Converting to US MPG reduces the number by somewhere around 20%.

I~LUV~Caddys8792
06-24-12, 11:52 AM
It's crazy how much bigger everything has gotten recently. Comparing a 2012 Sentra for example to my brother's '96 Sentra is a night and day difference....the '96 is the size of a '12 Versa and the '96 Sentra is larger in some respects than a '96 Altima.

Ranger
06-24-12, 11:56 AM
Americans just don't like small cars. Just look what happened to the late '80's Devilles. GM shrunk them, they didn't sell well and then they made them bigger.

orconn
06-24-12, 12:26 PM
^^^ Americans can't fit in small cars ..... and small engines can't pull the weight of the average American today. With over 50% of Americans being obese or verging on obese we need obese cars to cope with the situation!

drewsdeville
06-24-12, 12:39 PM
Americans just don't like small cars. Just look what happened to the late '80's Devilles. GM shrunk them, they didn't sell well and then they made them bigger.

I thought the c-body Devilles turned out to be one of the best selling Cadillac's out of the surrounding decades. :confused:

cadillac kevin
06-24-12, 12:51 PM
I thought the c-body Devilles turned out to be one of the best selling Cadillac's out of the surrounding decades. :confused:

I know eldorado sales tanked horribly after the downsizing for 1987...so much so that the car was elongated for 89....I think the public went into shock when the 6 foot long hood they were used to looking out across for the past 9 years became 3 feet long in 87.

drewsdeville
06-24-12, 12:59 PM
I know eldorado sales tanked horribly after the downsizing for 1987...so much so that the car was elongated for 89....I think the public went into shock when the 6 foot long hood they were used to looking out across for the past 9 years became 3 feet long in 87.

They did sell horribly, but they had other glaring issues working against them.

Through most of their existance, the smaller c-bodies pretty much dominated the larger d bodies. If small size was the problem, the d-body based Cadillacs would have thrived for decades to come. However, their sales dropped off dramatically after the smaller models were introduced.

Faded Crest
06-24-12, 01:11 PM
It's crazy how much bigger everything has gotten recently. Comparing a 2012 Sentra for example to my brother's '96 Sentra is a night and day difference....the '96 is the size of a '12 Versa and the '96 Sentra is larger in some respects than a '96 Altima.

True... Go even further back and look at the '83-'85 Sentra. It was a 50 mpg car.

Aron9000
06-25-12, 04:17 AM
They did sell horribly, but they had other glaring issues working against them.

Through most of their existance, the smaller c-bodies pretty much dominated the larger d bodies. If small size was the problem, the d-body based Cadillacs would have thrived for decades to come. However, their sales dropped off dramatically after the smaller models were introduced.

I don't think size was the reason the smaller FWD cars outsold the RWD cars. People are sucker for whatever is "new". GM didn't do enough to make the RWD cars seem "new". From 1986 to their demise in 1996, the RWD Cadillac was a throwback to a previous era of motoring. I will say that the newer FWD cars did handle better than the biggie RWD cars, and rode just as nice. When Cadillac introduced the new Deville for 1994, it looked A LOT like the big RWD Fleetwood but handled better, and had just as much room inside. The Fleetwood had a bigger trunk, but the Deville had a nicer interior that was just as spacious.

IMO Cadillac was competing with itself when it introduced the FWD cars alongside the RWD cars. I'm glad they kept making the RWD cars though, IMO the big RWD cars have that style and swagger in spades that the FWD cars never possessed. Plus they are way more reliable and easier on the wallet to maintain. And I say this not as somebody who bought them 15-20 years later, I guarantee people who bought the old RWD cars new were visiting their dealer a lot less than people who bought those silly FWD cars.