The new Honda Accord comes out next month and, like virtually every new car, it boasts a bigger frame and bigger engine than last year’s model. So I thought it might be worth revisiting some of the earlier generation Accords. It turns out that they were signifcantly more fuel efficient. For example, the 1982-1985 model got an extremely respectable 29/40 mpg. (In contrast, the four-cylinder engine in the new Accord comes in at 21 city, 31 hwy. The 6 cylinder gets 19/29.) The bad news is that the 1982 Accord only had 86 horsepower.
Here’s my question: do consumers really want/need such big engines? Or are we simply swayed by the fact the engine output is so easily quantifiable? I think horsepower creep is analagous to the ever expanding number of megapixels in digital cameras, which are not only useless but actually waste valuable hard drive space. Likewise, I’m not sure we really need our midsize sedans to generate 260 hp, especially when such a power boost detracts from its fuel efficiency. That said, 86 hp is really pretty paltry.