Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, December 20, 2021

Even as SUVs are doing the long fade-out, automakers are struggling to engineer cars that will meet Federal baselines for fuel efficiency, i.e. 35 miles per gallon.

The funny thing is, the 1987 Honda Civic CRX had an EPA-estimated 57 mpg rating, better than any modern-day hybrid. So why is it so much harder today to squeeze more miles out of a gallon of gas?

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.

It’s in the nature of the car business that companies want to offer more - more legroom, more trunk space - with each redesign. As a result, cars get bigger and bigger.

Besides size, American consumers expect a lot more convenience out of a car than they did in 1985. Today, we expect power steering, power brakes, power windows and more.

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.

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.

So we burn more fuel for shorter distances while hogging more roadspace these days, but we’re safer and more comfortable. Except that if we get into a car crash, we’re still pretty much toast.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/20/2007 11:18:45 PM
Category: History, Tech
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Seth Stevenson makes a plea to halt the unchecked proliferation of everyday-use wheelied baggage:

Your dorky rolling bag doesn’t say, “I’m embarking on a voyage.” It says, “I’m going to a conference in Cleveland.” And maybe you are, but you don’t have advertise it. The swashbuckling adventurer hoists a leather rucksack, or a battered canvas duffel. He doesn’t tug his bag behind him on a leash like a stubborn and especially boring pet.

Amen, brother. It’s not like long-haul travelers are the culprits, either. Every day on the subway, I get held up behind at least one nimrod who’s dragging a hunk of luggage, inevitably slowing down the crowd flow. Every time I see this spectacle, I think: Why on earth are you toting around all that crap, when you more than likely live in the City?

To me, employing this method to transport your gear comes off as laziness, more than anything else. Be a man/woman and just lift the damned thing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/20/2007 10:30:46 PM
Category: Comedy, Society
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