Over the last decade, compact cars have ballooned in size. How much? On average, compact cars sold in the U.S. are 549 pounds heavier and sit on a wheelbase that's 6.4 inches longer than those sold here ten years ago, according to analysis by Edmunds.com. With that added weight comes the need for more power and today's compacts pack an average of 64 more tire-spinning horses than those built a decade ago. Edmunds' AutoObserver senior editor, Bill Visnic, explained the reasons for the inflated compact cars like this:
Over the years, consumer demand has increased for small cars that have more features and are more versatile in carrying passengers and cargo. Those consumer-driven desires along with the regulatory drive for enhanced safety equipment have led to size and weight increases.
You might think that the growth spurt in the compact segment would negatively impact the fuel efficiency of these vehicles, but Edmunds' analysis shows the exact opposite. Modern-day technology has allowed automakers to build heaving vehicles that are, on average, 2.7 percent more fuel efficient than their slimmer counterparts that rolled off the lines ten years ago. If you glance at a modern compact – say the 42 miles-per-gallon rated, 3,009-pound 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco – it becomes obvious that a weighty ride, packed with fuel-saving technology, can also be an efficient runner.

[Source: Green Car Advisor]

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