Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cars in US use a lot more fuel than the same models in Europe

My daughter in Europe just leased a Toyota Auris.  This car appears to be almost identical to the Toyota Matrix sold in the US.  However, the Matrix, with a standard 1.8 liter engine and five speed manual transmission, gets mileage of 26-32.  The Auris has a 1.3 liter motor with a 6 speed manual, and gets 33-48 mpg.  The Auris also comes in diesel, which gets 45-62 if I have the conversions right.  Well the diesel can't pass our smog regulations, but the 1.3 liter/six speed combo ought to be saleable in the US.  It looks like the manufacturers still think we are so addicted to power that we would not buy an engine that gets 50% better highway mileage.   They may be right.  Gasoline pices in the United States  now are about a third of what Europeans pay.  For most of us, it isn't painful enough yet to fill up. 
The Toyota Yaris has an identical nameplate in Europe and the US, but the smallest engine in the US is a 1.5 liter that gets 29 city, 36 highway.  The European version comes with a three cylinder, one liter engine that gets 40 city, 54 highway. 

Of course, Toyota also makes two smaller models, the Aygo and the iQ, which get even better mileage but couldn't meet US safety standards.  Crash test standards are probably a sacred cow, but we really need to give buyers some flexibility to buy a fuel efficient car at a reasonable price.

1 comment:

  1. One possible reason for not offering a smaller engine size in models such as the Matrix and Yaris is the large size of so many overweight Americans.

    I live in Texas and drive a 2009 Yaris with a 1.5L engine.

    When driving while I am alone, my car has way more acceleration than I can use. When I give my plus size girlfriend, her mom and an overweight friend a ride, my performance is sluggish at best.