❝ Sometime in the next year or so, the U.S. auto industry will cross a once-unimaginable threshold: Average horsepower for the entire fleet will reach 300…
It is an absurd number—the stuff of drag-racing dreams. It’s also, almost entirely, a happy accident. The engineers tuning up the industry’s average sedans and dad-jeans SUVs have spent the past decade trying to lower emissions; speed was an unintended byproduct.
❝ As global regulators progressively tightened emissions standards, automakers were forced to do more with less. They built a mountain of relatively small, super-efficient four-cylinder engines to swap out hulking, thirsty V-8s. At the same time, they increasingly boosted those furious little powerplants with turbochargers and electric motors. These modern engines run like a pack of Australian shepherds—efficient, quiet and even drowsy, until something needs to be chased.
“You can get the best of both worlds,” Ivan Drury of Edmunds.com said. “If you really want it, the power is there.”
Folks talk about this as an unintended byproduct. Not in my mind. Automotive engineers understand the correlation between efficiency and power potential. With good sense in design, you can accommodate a pretty good range of economy and performance.