vs. Big: Some Pros . . . and Cons
trying to decide whether to buy a bigger or smaller
car, you might want to consider some of the following pros and cons:
usually perform better with manual transmissions
This is because
they usually have smaller and lower torque at higher RPM
engines. This means you have to get the engine revving to
get the car moving. Or at least, moving quickly. With a manual,
this is easy. You raise the RPMs, let out the clutch and
off you go. With an automatic, not so much. It takes a moment for
the engine to build up speed (RPMs) after you push down on the gas
pedal with the transmission in Drive a moment or two for
the engine to get into the higher range of its powerband, where
it makes its power and torque. In the meanwhile, other cars
are passing you by.
(four cylinder) engines have torque peaks well above 4,000 RPM
and dont make much torque at all in the idle to 2,000 or so
RPM range the engine speed youre starting out at from
a red light.
As an example,
the 12 Kia Soul I recently reviewed (see here
for that) had a 1.6 liter engine with a torque peak at 4,850 RPM.
It also made very little torque at any engine speed. Maximum
torque from this engine is just 123 ft.-lbs. not a lot to
get 2,615 lbs. of vehicle moving.
of a small engine with not much torque at all and whatever
torque there is way up there in the powerband teamed up with
an automatic transmission is usually sluggish performance.
Especially when accelerating from a standstill.
in contrast, usually have bigger engines sixes and sometimes
eights. These engines produce more torque and at lower engine
RPM. For example: The full-size Chrysler 300?s big V-8 produces
tremendous torque 394 ft.-lbs. at 4,200 RPM. Much
of this prodigious torque is also available at lower speeds
making it ideal for pairing with an automatic transmission. A big
car with a stick can be plenty of fun to drive but you usually
wont lose much in the way of performance by going with the
automatic, if you prefer to let the transmission do your shifting
engines which make lots of torque down low in the powerband
also work well with automatics. Unfortunately, there are
only a handful of small cars available with diesel engines in the
cars are usually less crashworthy
obvious or ought to be. But the way crashworthiness ratings
are published can be very misleading because they dont
rank cars in absolute terms but only against other cars within their
class of car. In other words, a compact is compared to other compacts
and a full-size car compared to other full-size cars. Compact
cars are not compared with full-size cars. So, a compact with a
5 Star rating may be superior to another compact with a 4 star rating.
But its still probably inferior to a full-size car with a
4 star rating. As a rule, the larger (and heavier) the vehicle,
the more crashworthy the vehicle.
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Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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