New Rating System: Most Performance For Least Fuel Use

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2011 Chevrolet Volt drive test, March 2011

2011 Chevrolet Volt drive test, March 2011

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Many people buy cars because they deliver good gas mileage, with the EPA as an impartial arbiter of fuel efficiency ratings.

Many other people buy cars because they're fast and fun to drive, with acceleration times and cornering forces delivered by many auto-media outlets.

But what if a buyer wants both?

How can someone learn which cars offer the best blend of efficiency and performance?

The Raceway in Sonoma wants to help.

It is testing a new rating scale that gives vehicles a single rating based on both their fuel efficiency and greenhouse-gas emissions and their horsepower and torque.

Developed with Dominican University, the rating scale--which is still very much in development--was the topic of a panel discussion held at the Raceway last week.

The first cut at the ratings will be posted online at the track's Accelerating Sustainable Performance website.

But as reports, the Chevrolet Volt topped the hatchback and wagon category, and the Ford Mustang unexpectedly beat the Toyota Camry Hybrid in the sedans and coupes ranking.

The ranking's creators are putting more work into it, and may add exhaust-gas emissions (CO, HC, NOx) to the greenhouse-gas emissions it now uses, as well as further performance data like braking distance.

It might also attempt to wrap in safety ratings for each vehicle.

But for the moment, we simply applaud the effort to provide a rating that we might call the "Most Fun Miles Per Gallon" or something like that.

What would you call this rating?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (8)
  1. I would call it stupid and ill conceived.

    It is well known the perception of a product is not the average of the individual perception metrics, it is the worst of the perception metrics.

    For example, let's assume that the buyer wants both performance and fuel efficiency. The Prius scores an F on performance but an A on efficiency, so this averages a C.

    Wrong, The Prius would get an F, because the buyer values both metrics and the car is unacceptable.

    Such system has been used for "Print Quality" analysis and other perceptual scales for years.

    Similarly with the Mustang, it is not fuel efficient so it scores an overall F, regardless of performance.

  2. It is NOT stupid in my opinion. I know plenty of buyers who want "decent performance" AND "good fuel efficiency". NOT every buyer buy cars ONLY for efficiency.

    Prius trade off too much performance for the title of efficiency.

    BTW, Prius didn't get F on the performance scale. It was more like a D....

  3. Either you didn't read what I wrote, or my writing is really bad at conveying my idea. I think we are in violent agreement on this point.

  4. Your right it is April 1. A volt is equal to GTI in performance and handling, on what planet!

  5. @Pat: Ah, then I take it you've driven both cars, so you have a basis for comparison?

  6. @John: Yes I have owned Volkwagens and have driven GTIs. I have not driven the Volt but I own a Prius which does not handle as well as a Volt but it is close. I went to the Motor Trend web site and looked up the tests. I was right the Volt does not perform in the same league as the GTI.

  7. The problem as I see it is in weighting the scores. When I was younger, I thought it a necessity to have a sub-10 second 0-60 mph. Now, I find I'm satisfied with ~ 12 seconds and mostly do not attempt to do that in daily usage. Depending on how you weight performance versus economy, it is entirely possible to rate the Corvette as best. It has huge performance and nearly 30 mpg highway rating. Whilst the kid in me loves a Corvette, I wouldn't buy a car with a 30 mpg or less combined score.

  8. Exactly. Performance metrics versus acceptability is perhaps best viewed as a curve. At the top of the curve for 0-60, anything

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