62 mph in 4 secs, drag-racing 12,000 pounds up a mountain, or 60 mpg?

American can significantly reduce its dependence upon foreign oil and save money, but we'd rather have automakers dazzle us with  amazing acceleration and top speeds.

Utterly senseless?

Will fuel economy ever be cool?

MotorTrend is salivating over the new ABT-Sportsline modified Audi TT-RS today. With specs like 0 – 62 in 4 seconds and a top speed of 181 mph, what gear head wouldn't act as if his bell had just been wrung?

Yet, if all the effort put into achieving such power had been put into achieving fuel economy, 60 mpg would already be an after-thought.

What is it about power – mostly useless power – that is so Pavlovianly-enticing?

Unfortunately, it isn't just 0 – 60 times that so compel. For instance, what percent of pickup truck drivers need a truck that can fly up a mountain towing 12,000 pounds? What percent of pickup truck owners ever tow anything? Would the average American contractor go out of business without the ability to drag-race 12,000 pounds up a mountain?

I don't know, but the Ford F-Series recently topped 50,000 units sold in one month – the first time in over 2 years – while averaging well under 20 mpg. On the other hand, the 50 mpg Toyota Prius sold about 12,000 units.

How can that be acceptable in today's world? Such poor fuel economy has done more good for America than harm? Seriously? Honestly, I don't know, but I very much doubt that such an argument can be made. Yet, the government provides an unlimited amount of small business tax credits for such vehicles as it doles tens of billions in loans, grants and tax credits for more fuel efficient vehicles, particularly plug-in vehicles the size of a Prius.

But, can you really play it both ways?

More important, while a 70 mpg plug-in Prius sounds great, as does a Nissan Leaf with 100 miles of EV range, a 40 mpg F 150 would have far more impact reducing foreign oil dependence. Forget $7500 tax credits for the Chevy Volt. $7500 for a Chevy Silverado hybrid could actually achieve real change this decade.

Nevertheless, will it ever be cooler to average 60 mpg versus hitting 62 mph in 4 seconds?


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