Mitchell Tsai
57 mpg? That's so 20 years ago Want to drive a cheap car that gets eye-popping mileage? In 1987 you could - and it wasn't even a hybrid. [Peter Valdes, CNN - 12/20/97] -
57 mpg? That's so 20 years ago
Want to drive a cheap car that gets eye-popping mileage? In 1987 you could - and it wasn't even a hybrid. [Peter Valdes, CNN - 12/20/97]
Looking back at the 1987 Honda Civic CRX shows us why cars use so much more gas today and about the trade-offs we've had to make. The CRX HF got an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 57 mpg gallon in highway driving. - Mitchell Tsai from Bookmarklet
Today's Honda Civic Hybrid can't match it, achieving EPA-estimated highway mileage of just 45 mpg. The Toyota Prius, today's fuel mileage champ, gets 46 mpg on the highway. One answer for the mileage drop is that the rating system has changed. Beginning with the 2008 model year, the EPA began using a more rigorous fuel economy test that means lower numbers for most cars - Mitchell Tsai
If the old CRX HF were tested using today's rules, its highway fuel economy would drop to 51 mpg. The bigger answer is that the Honda Civic has changed a lot in twenty years. Honda no longer sells a tiny two-seat version like the CRX. Even Civics with back seats are much bigger and heavier today than similar versions were in 1987. - Mitchell Tsai
Besides size, American consumers expect a lot more convenience out of a car than they did in 1985. The base CRX HF did not have power steering or power brakes. (As light as it was, it really didn't need them.) Air conditioning was optional, as it was on most cars in those days, so it didn't figure into the EPA's fuel economy ratings. - Mitchell Tsai
Today's consumers also expect safety. In the 1980s, car companies would sell cars that got one-star or two-star crash test ratings. Numbers like that would now cause car companies fits. Four out of five stars is considered the minimum acceptable rating. - Mitchell Tsai
The modern Civic has airbags front and side, electronic stability control and built-in crash protecting structures in the body. Even the CRX's biggest fans wouldn't relish the thought of getting into a wreck in one of those cars. While actual crash test results are not available, even a Honda (HMC) spokesman admitted the car probably wouldn't have fared well by modern standards. "Without the benefit of modern crash structure and extensive use of high strength steel, cars from two decades ago couldn't match the crash test performance of today's Hondas," said Honda spokesman Chris Naughton. - Mitchell Tsai
Increased safety, meaning more weight from airbags and crash structure, has meant lower fuel economy. "It's kind of a classic engineering fight where safe cars compete with more fuel-efficient cars," said Todd Lassa, a writer for Motor Trend magazine and a CRX aficionado. - Mitchell Tsai
Weighing less than 1,800 pounds, the CRX HF was powered by a 58-horsepower engine. Today's base Honda Civic weighs almost 2,600 pounds and is powered by a 140 horsepower engine. That's about 12.5 pounds less weight per pony today, despite greatly increased size. "The lightest cars you can buy today are about 40 percent heavier than that car," Lassa said of his old CRX. - Mitchell Tsai
See "2012 Honda Civic HF First Test - 29/41/33 city/highway/combined fuel economy" [Nate Martinez, Motor Trend - 4/17/12] - Mitchell Tsai
My first car was a 1980 Honda Civic (bought in 1987 for $600). I just bought it to learn stick-shift before I bought a racing-style car, but it drove so well, I nixed my plans for buying a faster car...and I've always driven Honda/Acura since then. 1980 Honda Accord (didn't like), 1992 Acura Integra GS, 2011 Honda Civic (which is averaging 32-34 mpg for me). - Mitchell Tsai
See "1985 Honda CRX HF vs. 2010 Honda Insight - Modern Automotive Technology vs. Past Technology" [Automobile Magazine - August 2009] - Mitchell Tsai
Huh. But my very safe '92 Mazda protege got 51 mpg..... - RudĩϐЯaЯïan
I had a friend who drove across a good section of the US on one tank of gas in his Geo Metro (This was back in 1988-90). - Mitchell Tsai