Posts Tagged ‘Fuel Economy’


I’ve always loved the idea of a weekend sports car. Something you take out early on Sunday morning, drop the top, wind your way up Laurel Canyon and then hit Mulholland Drive at reckless speeds and hope that you don’t get zapped with a radar followed by blue lights.

Years ago, I had just such a car. My bright red 1974 Porsche 914, with 911 rims shod in high performance Pirellis, could handle the job and more. With the Targa top off, it was a little slice of sunshine heaven. Alas, my little Porsche was challenged for space. There was no room behind the seats, no cup holders, no insulation and the glove box was good for, uh, gloves.

My 1974 red Porsche 914 - I miss it, but not the repair bills.

The mid-engine design meant I had front and rear trunk space, like the current Boxster. The rear trunk was just large enough for the Targa roof. The front trunk carried the car cover and a gym bag. This wasn’t the car for a run to Costco.

Two-seat sports cars always pose a dilemma for car shoppers. Anything from a Mazda MX-5 Miata to a Porsche Cayman to a Ferrari F458 have the same trade-offs. You can fit two people, but there isn’t much room for anything other than a couple overnight bags and small leather goods from Louis Vuitton. The fun quotient for these cars is through the roof as much as practicality flies out the window. They are personal expressions of the driver and the mechanical vibrations create pure driving ecstasy.

It’s easier to justify one of these indulgences if you have a mulit-car household or if you’re lucky enough to have a garage full of cars so you can choose a different one each day of the week. (more…)


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new window stickers for all cars/trucks sold in the United States.  The mandates come from a 2007 law (not implemented by the Bush Administration) that requires labels to put a new vehicle in context with the rest of the herd.  The EPA’s mandate must take into account (1) fuel economy, (2) greenhouse gasses and (3) smog-forming pollutants.  It also must contextualize your average car/truck with a gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine with EVs, hybrids and advanced clean diesels.

One of two new stickers assigns letter grades (remember elementary school?) from A+ to D-.   It’s pretty easy to guess which car gets the highest and lowest grades.  A pure EV (electric vehicle), like the Nissan Leaf, will get an A+ (117  mpg and higher) while my Italian friends, Lamborghini and Ferrari, would get the D-.

Proposed EPA-DOT Window Sticker with Letter Grade

Note that the sticker even has a QR Code™ that can be read by your smartphone to get even more information about the car and the EPA’s ratings.

A plug-in hybrid, rated at the equivalent of 59 – 116 mpg, like the upcoming Chevy Volt (it has an internal combustion engine that runs a generator to juice the batteries to give it an extended range) would get an A.   “Normal” hybrids like the Toyota Prius and the Ford Fusion would earn an A-.  Lesser hybrids, like the Nissan Altima, Ford Escape and Toyota Camry will have to sit in the second row and with a B+. (more…)