Are We Where We Should Be With Gas Mileage?

Cars driving around today typically net somewhere around 20 to 30 miles per gallon when driven by the average driver. Careful drivers or ‘hypermilers’ can miraculously get those numbers much higher, but lets face it, the majority of us are not, and will never be, hypermilers.

While some people look at 30 mpg as great mileage, I can’t help but stop for a second and think back quite a few years ago. Over 20 years ago to be exact.

Enter the Honda CR-X. With a 1.5 liter engine in the CR-X HF (high fuel efficiency) model, this car achieved gas mileage using today’s EPA standards of 41 mpg city and 50 mpg highway. This HF model by the way, was no more expensive than the base model.

The CR-X had a lot of things going for it that contributed to its high mpg’s. It was small, lightweight (weighing around 2,000 lbs give or take depending on the model year), and it had a modestly powered engine. And sure there are some downfalls by today’s standards. It’s not up to todays safety standards, it’s a little underpowered for today’s consumer, and it’s a two seater.

However these small shortcomings don’t take away from the fact that this car could turn your gas station trips into a once monthly event.

So where am I going with all of this? Right here.

It’s been over 20 years since the inception of this vehicle. A fuel economy dream come true. A car that a hypermiler could probably turn into a 200 mpg road warrior. Ok, so maybe that’s a little ambitious. But where is this efficiency today?

I know there are a lot of obvious road blocks in the way of 50 mpg in todays automobies, weight mainly. As safety features are added, weight inevitably goes up.

What I can’t believe though, is that over 20 years later, we still have yet to come close to 50 mpg in a base model vehicle. More than 20 years of innovation and improvement and we can’t get there. To go from a car that took fuel efficiency and ran with it so long ago, to a place where many gas-electric hybrids can’t even get to today, amazes me.

Energy is the crisis of the world today. Solutions exist, but where are they? Could you imagine if every car produced today performed the same or better than the CR-X did more than 20 years ago? If this were the case, fuel supplies, gas prices, and automotive pollution might not even be an issue right now. Imagine pairing up a hybrid electric setup with a CR-X today? Gas mileage could be in excess of 100 mpg easily.

Why aren’t we there? And if we’re not there, where are we?

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