"That you may ruminate"

…On Minimal Progress.

Posted by Steve on April 15, 2009

I drive a manual transmission 5-speed 1993 Honda Accord DX. According to the EPA’s gas mileage estimates, the 5-speed ’93 Accord gets 21 MPG city and 29 MPG highway. The 2009 manual 5-speed Accords have EPA gas mileage values of 22 MPG city and 31 MPG highway. So, over the course of 16 model years, the Honda Accord’s gas mileage has improved all of one mile per gallon in city driving and two miles per gallon highway… that’s 240 yards per gallon per year highway and 120 yards per gallon per year city.

Hardly impressive.

Of course, the EPA mileage estimates are just that, estimates. Good thing that the official joint Fuel Economy website of the United States Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency has a lovely feature: Shared MPG Estimates. It allows you to look at estimates based on what people have reported about their actual experienced gas mileage (and allows you to contribute your own data, which I encourage you to do. I’ve started doing it.). From that, well, nobody’s put data in for manual transmission 2009 Accords yet. Plus the data doesn’t give a city/highway mileage value the way the Official Estimates are structured, just a combined total and then each driver’s combined total with their cumulative estimate of % city/highway. But for what it’s worth, 5 drivers of ’93 manual Accords have reported an average 30.9 MPG while 7 drivers of ’08 manual Accords have reported an average of 29.7 MPG.

Obviously, the 5-speed Manual Transmission Honda Accord is not the only car in the world. It may not be a properly representative car for comparing typical 1993 model year gas mileage to typical 2009 model year gas mileage and illustrating the non-progress made in improving gas mileage. Maybe, maybe not.

All I know is that I drive a 1993 Honda Accord DX with a 5-speed manual transmission. It is old enough to get its own driver’s license, has 174,000 miles on it, and has been in more wrecks than I can keep track of (I think it’s 5, excluding minor parking-lot collisions, but I could be wrong…). It still manages to pull 32 MPG on the highway and around 25 MPG city. I’m going to have to replace it eventually, but any automobile manufacturer thinks I’m going to put myself into debt to buy a new car that doesn’t give me significantly better performance than what I already get from a 16-year-old crash veteran… frankly, that’s insulting.

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