• May 25, 2010
The Horsepower Wars – Click above to view infographic

In this day and age, even the average sedan is packing some serious heat under the hood. It didn't use to be like this and there was a time when even "sports cars" were listed under 150 horsepower. For those unfamiliar with the history behind the horsepower wars, follow the jump for an infographic primer from the 1960s to the present day.

[Source: Auto Insurance for Autoblog.com]



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[Source: Auto Insurance for Autoblog.com]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 65 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      The 1990 F-150 outperforms the 2000 model.
      • 4 Years Ago
      how was the Camaro 3 seconds faster than the mustang in 1980, with nearly the same power?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I usually find infographics pretty interesting, but this one leaves a bit to be desired.

      For one thing, there is no indication if they took into account different HP ratings (current standard, SAE net, gross, whatever). Same deal with mileage ratings - the old EPA rating system was much looser - and much less realistic, than the current one.

      Lets not forget that the chart that shows average fuel economy numbers for cars would actually be flat when factoring in SUVs/pickups which represent almost 50% of the vehicles on the road today. Back in the 60s, 70s and even 80s no one bought a truck for regular "personal transportation".
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't think that average MPG from 1960 to 2010 is accurate:

      Consecutive annual increases in the average fuel economy of new vehicles in 2005 and 2006 indicate a reversal in the long term declining trend in fuel efficiency since the mid-1980s. Still, the average fuel economy of today's U.S. car and truck fleet is 25.3 mpg, which is lower than the 25.9 mpg fleet average peak in 1987.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Mileage will increase dramatically in the next few years even as useable HP will increase mildly or stay the same.

      HCCI is almost ready to appear, and when it does gasoline ICEs will approach diesel engines mileages. Given the weight of Diesel powerplants they might even exceed diesels too, although their thermal efficiencies will not be as high.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Does it really not matter if the gas mileage is increasing anyway?
        • 4 Years Ago
        It isn't. The average vehicle now gets the same mpg as the average car before the oil shock in the 70s.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's not true. The fleet average was under 12 mpg in 1973. It's 50% better now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I guess you're right. I guess I mean since just after the oil shock.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Average_Fuel_Economy

        Take a look at the average rate there, in all the actual years (ignore the projections on the right) since 1980, the average for cars is almost constant. Add in the fact that trucks make up a far larger percentage of vehicles sold to consumers in that time frame and we're actually falling behind.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just as important in your comparison is power to weight ratio and gearing / final drive.

      • 4 Years Ago
      247hp on average? I have to move to America.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For practical purposes, I think 0-60 in ten seconds is plenty. Nobody NEEDS a car that is faster than that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Increasing horsepower does not always mean more gas consumption.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The poster is talking about the GTI. The GTI isn't a Diesel.

        And most of what you say about Diesel isn't correct anyway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        A Golf doesn't make 30 combined when driven at a normal pace. Perhaps a below-normal pace.

        Also, when all cars have direct injection, your turbo DI engine is no longer going to be above average on fuel economy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        For a given technology level it higher horsepower almost always equals to lower mpg.
        • 4 Years Ago
        True. Direct injection and properly tuned turbocharged engines can make a lot of useable horsepower while having at least above average fuel economy. Take a look at the golf gti for example - 210ish hp mean it's no slouch and it will hold its own on a track against sports cars...yet it can average 30mpg combined if driven at a normal pace.
        • 4 Years Ago
        True, but I always wonder how much better mileage could be if these newer engines were tuned completely for efficiency rather than having more power. Drop the HP in the average family sedan to 100-150 rather than 180-280, and I would imagine a good increase in fuel economy would be seen. Especially with the modern 6+spd autos.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ls2/ls7

        Diesel is still a more efficient fuel with a more efficient combustion process. So even with comparable tech (Direct Injection and Turbo Charging) it will still have higher MPG. Not as dramatically higher, but still a good bit higher.

        Diesel fuel is also cheaper to refine and generate from vegetation (green).
        • 4 Years Ago
        "For a given technology level it higher horsepower almost always equals to lower mpg."

        Problem is, who wants to drive a 2011 Model T with 20hp direct injection, variable cam timing and valve lift, and an 8 spd ZF auto with low resistance tires?
        • 4 Years Ago
        This whole chart is MASSIVELY wrong:

        Horsepower was measured as "gross" bhp until the mid 70's, at which point it's been reported as "SAE net." That means the "375 hp" in the big block muscle car was actually around 290 hp in modern terms.

        The reality: We have WAY, WAY more horsepower than we ever have, despite only modest gains in efficiency.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Whoa, I never realized that in 1980 the Camaro was offered with a 4.4l v8 with 120hp. I thought that my 1977 with 145hp (305 w/ 2bbl carb) was bad, but that's even worse. 3sp Auto meant that it was usually around 14-15mpg, although it was so bad that I didn't even bother to check it. Of course, I had it in the early 1990s when gas was ~$1/gallon, so it wasn't too bad.

      Now entry-level compacts come with 150-160hp, are faster to 60, and get twice the mileage.

      I wouldn't predict the death of the HP wars anytime soon...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I too would love to hear how these averages work. Surely they include some SUVs (trucks) in the calculations, or how did you get to 247HP?

      I know that vehicles like the Accord (average vehicles) have a lot of HP now, over 247HP in the commonly purchased V6 form. But don't sales skew toward lower-end vehicles? Are sales figures being taken into account or just the lineup of cars offered?
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