Fuel Economy Challenge: 1990 vs. 2014
In 1990, a car was available that had a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine that took regular gasoline and had a 5-speed manual transmission. It wasn’t anything special to look at, but delivered economical travel. Today, the car carries EPA ratings of 38 mpg city, 45 on the highway and 41 combined.
Used versions of that car are still around today and typically cost between one and two thousand dollars.
Today, as we approach 2014, there’s a car available with a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine that takes regular gasoline and has a 5-speed manual transmission. It’s rated at 32 mpg city, 45 on the highway and 37 combined.
What a difference 24 years makes, huh?
Granted, the modern car will feature far better safety, design and comfort than the 1990 car. The number’s don’t lie, though, and the truth is that fuel economy technology really hasn’t increased much over the last few decades.
The 1990 Geo Metro is actually a disguised Suzuki and puts out somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 hp, which certainly isn’t up to modern standards. While it will never win a drag race at a stoplight or pass other cars on the highway, it will provide a smooth ride once up to speed while delivering those stellar fuel numbers.
The 2014 Ford Fiesta SE uses a turbocharged 3-cylinder to reach its fuel economy numbers, making it the most fuel efficient non-hybrid gas-powered car on the market. That also means it’ll blow the Metro out of the water on the horsepower front while providing at least a semblance of acceleration power. Along with features like Bluetooth, airbags and traction control, the Fiesta offers all the modern conveniences and safety features. Of course, it’ll cost around $16,000 to take one home.
If I were buying a commuter and wanted to hit 40 mpg using regular fuel, the Metro would be on my shopping list today. The Fiesta might also make the list… in about 24 years.
For the same fuel economy, would you get a $1,000 Geo Metro or a $16,000 Ford Fiesta?