I remember it clearly. With my car on the fritz, my dad allowed me to drive his 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass to school. I was leaving to go home when two guys came up to me. “Is that your car?” they asked.
“It’s my dad’s,” I replied. “He has to fix mine so he let me take this today.”
“It’s a sweet ride. What kind of engine does it have?
I had no idea. Type of engine? As much as I appreciate classic automobiles, I couldn’t differentiate a V8 from an inline-6 if I were looking under the hood. I went home and asked my dad. The answer — a 350 Rocket. What that really means, I still don’t know, nor can I find a credible Internet article on the subject. But that answer seemed to impress my high school classmates.
When I saw this Associated Press (AP) article, I not only remembered that interaction, but I started thinking. Americans have had a long love affair with big, beefy automobiles — just attend any classic car show and you’ll see. Are Americans really embracing smaller, more fuel-efficient engines? According to the article, more than half the new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. through May had four-cylinder motors. That’s the highest percentage since 1998, when J.D. Power and Associates started keeping track.
Just observing on my commute, I’d say yes. Today I followed a Chevy Volt and a Fiat 500 into the office park. And I can’t count the number of tiny Toyotas, Hondas, Hyundais, MINIs, etc. parked in the lot. As the owner of a 2011 Ford Fiesta, I embrace small engines and the fuel efficiency that comes with them. The AP article also states that gasoline consumption is down about five percent from this time last year. That could be further evidence that smaller engines are taking over our highways.
Last year, when my Fiesta was brand new, I drove it to a classic car show that I attended for work. While no one asked me what I had under the hood, I was asked how many miles per gallon it got. I gleefully replied, “my average is 37-38 combined, but I’ve just averaged 44 out of a gallon during a trip up north. A lot of country roads with a 55 speed limit.” The bystanders nodded approvingly. As engines revved around me, it was clear that mpg matters now.
Will we be impressed with our 2.1 liter 4 cylinder engines in 40 years? Or will we be amazed at how we even drove cars that got such low miles per gallon? I’m hoping for the latter, but until we get there, I’ll continue to maximize my mpg. What do you think? Does horsepower make you happy? Or do miles per gallon make your day?
Whether you drive a supercharged big block V-8 or a 1.7 Liter fuel sipper, please be safe on the road. And if you’re in the market for insurance, give a Foremost Agency a call.