When I was a kid, I liked big cars and sports cars. Sports cars looked good and were fast. And large cars were roomy, impressive, had the most options, and suggested wealth and prestige.
I thought that small cars tended to have fewer options, were clunky and clangy, and weren’t fun to drive.
But, having gotten older and now that I drive, I’ve certainly revised those opinions. Especially since visiting an annual auto show every year for the past 8 years.
Some of the opinions I had were true, such as large cars being roomier, and sports cars being fast. But I also have seen that larger or sportier isn’t always better.
However, large cars use lots of gas. Ever hear the term, “gas guzzler”? Large cars of the 1970’s often had this label once gas prices started surging after 1973. They’ve gotten better over the years as surging gas prices have helped put pressure on automakers to increase gas mileage, but a smaller car will still use less gas and often have the same, or even longer, driving range than many larger cars.
Large cars also take up more space. This can mean a more difficult time trying to find a parking space or, for some drivers, like me, a feeling that the car is too wide for the lane. I can cope with the “too wide for the lane” feeling, but some drivers may have more trouble with this. The term, “boat” comes to mind. I find that smaller cars are just far more maneuverable in tight spaces and, while driving, I don’t feel as if I will sideswipe the cars on either side of me if I drift so much as a micron to either side.
What about options? Well, it is probably still true that the larger a car is, the more options it will offer, as the “flagship” car of nearly any automaker tends to be the largest car that automaker produces, and will be the most expensive, and so will offer the most options.
But, automakers have come to realize that many people in these gas price and mileage conscious times are opting for smaller cars, and so, smaller cars are now coming with a greater offering of options once reserved for the larger models. These include moon-roofs, advanced stereo systems, power door locks and windows, electrochromatic mirrors, and gps navigation units, among others.
And of course, the smaller cars still get the best gas mileage, for the most part. After all, gas mileage has been improved in all sizes of cars, so that now, while 20-25 mpg for larger cars is not uncommon now, small cars can often do 35-40 mpg!
Then there’s handling. Small cars do tend to handle better and are less likely to have that “heavy” feel on corners or when braking or accelerating.
What about sports cars? Well, yes, they are small, but, in compensating for horsepower, they, too, suffer in the gas mileage department. And, they can be very cramped, low, and uncomfortable. Plus, they can be very expensive, especially the exotics from Europe.
Small cars that are not sports cars are not as cramped as sports cars are, though they still don’t have the interior room of larger cars. However, where interior room is concerned, some small car models are, and have been, better than others, and many small car models have been greatly improved in this area.
And where insurance is concerned, the small cars usually come out best as well. After all, how often do people race Corollas and Civics and VW Beetles?
All of the cars I owned were small cars and I’ve been satisfied with all of them. And as the years have passed, it seems they’ve gotten better and better. So, next time you are in the market for a car? Check out the smaller models. You may be very surprised.
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Keep driving and thanks for reading! 🙂