Dangerously Slow New Cars?

2020 Subaru Crosstrek slow

I was recently reading a post on a Facebook group about the Subaru Crosstrek. We all know this lifted Impreza isn’t going to set any land-speed records. They’re not going to light up the drag strips on Saturday nights, right? They’re designed to let people go down rutted gravel roads or just as easily hop a curb at Whole Foods. But someone actually called it “dangerously slow.” Really? Are there any dangerously slow new cars?

The answer is clearly—you’ve got to be freaking kidding me. I don’t think some people know what a slow car is.

A number of readers, including myself, noted that while the Crosstrek is no WRX, calling it dangerously slow is clearly ridiculous. The original poster may have been a fetus and had never piloted any form of transportation older than 2010; maybe 2015.

Today, I see another fetus on another automotive website referring to the Jeep Renegade as “dangerously slow” as well. Hey, maybe it was the same person who made the Crosstrek comment, I don’t know. But again, a Renegade is far from dangerously slow. The thing does 0-60 in 8.7 seconds—hardly glacial. While it might not be the fastest thing on four wheels, it’s also not too slow for U.S. highways. Not even close.

Really Slow Cars

Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear L300 off road
You want slow? Our turbo-diesel Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon, the Space Tractor, was slow.

We own five vehicles right now. The fastest (sadly) is our 2007 Toyota Yaris with 106 whopping horsepower at the crank. Next fastest is probably either our three-cylinder 78 horsepower 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage or our 1994 Mitsubishi Delica Space Gear van. That van has a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel making something around 140 hp and 236 lb/ft of torque (when new in 1994).

I’ve owned a lot of pokey forms of transportation. This includes a 1989 Mitsubishi Delica Star Wagon (87 hp and 4,000 lbs.), our two early 1990s Mitsubishi Pajero SUVs (about 100 hp, 170 lb/ft of torque, and about the same weight as the Star Wagon). There was my first car, a 1992 Mitsubishi Expo LRV that had 113 ponies. The slowest vehicle was likely the 1979 Honda Civic 1200 saddled with a two-speed mostly automatic transmission that required you to shift it from gear one to gear two, no clutch. For those times when you felt extra molasses-like, you could just have it in second gear constantly. You could also expect to be out accelerated by things including bicyclists, some livestock, and lightweight stones. Folks, a ‘79 Civic with a carbureted 1,200cc engine and two forward gears is slow. A Crosstrek and a Renegade, not so much. Well, at least not compared to cars 30+ years old.

A Modern Muscle Car Era

Toyota RAV4 Prime Hybrid

I’ve been saying for some time now that we’re actually living in a modern muscle car era. No, that doesn’t mean ‘69 Camaros, Shelby Mustangs, and 389 tri-power Pontiac GTOs. It means that even the slow cars of today are pretty quick compared to yesteryear. 

The other day I was watching one of the wonderfully ‘80s Motorweek videos about the very quick Dodge Colt Turbo. With its gusty turbocharged 1.5-liter engine, it made just over 100 horsepower and sprinted to 60 MPH is under 10 seconds. Yes, that was quick in 1985. These days, I’d bet my modern Mitsubishi Mirage would be just as quick, yet it’s mocked as a performance slug. What a difference 30 years makes. 

Today’s slow cars, such as the Mirage, also include vehicles like the Nissan Kicks with its 122 horse engine. It takes the compact CUV from naught to 60 in 9.7-seconds according to Car and Driver. Another modern slowpoke is the Toyota Corolla Hybrid. It jaunts to 60 in a leisurely 10.3-second stroll according to Hotcars.com. The Hyundai Venue moves to 60 in 9.4-seconds of time consumption. The Toyota CH-R hatchback crossoverish car thing reaches 60 in a tick over 10 seconds according to Motor Trend. Oh, that Crosstrek with the 2.0-liter mill? Expect 0-60 times in about 9.0-seconds according to Carindigo.com. My God. If it was any slower, it’d be going backwards. [INSERT EYE ROLLING EMOJI.]

This idea that some of today’s slower cars are dangerously slow might sound reasonable if you haven’t driven many cars, and the cars you have driven are newish. Look at cars such as the latest Honda Accord Hybrid (0-60 in 6.7 seconds, Motor Trend), the newest Toyota Camry XSE (0-60 in 5.8 seconds, Car and Driver), and multiple crossovers accelerating to 60 in the five- to six-second range (Ford Escape turbo, 0-60 in 6.8 seconds, Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in 5.4 seconds!). Looking at these numbers, it’s easy to see why some would look at a Crosstrek as slow. Add to this, the fact that many performance-oriented cars are rocketing to 60 in under four seconds—what would’ve been supercar territory not many years ago—and it’s no wonder why someone might think a Renegade might feel unsafe at any speed. Compared to a Tesla Model 3, which does 0-60 in as little as 3.1 seconds, a Crosstrek is three times slower! 

How Slow is Too Slow?

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback
The new 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage: 78 hp, three cylinders, still not dangerously slow.

Frankly, nothing sold on the U.S. market is too slow for U.S. road in my opinion. Yeah, some are slower than others, but nothing sold these days that’s brand new is too slow. Nothing. I currently own the lowest-horsepower car sold on the U.S. market, the Mirage. It’s plenty peppy. It goes 80 mph pretty easily. It merges without too much anxiety.

Take it from me I have five cars with a total of 19 cylinders and a lowly total of 524 combined horsepower in my driveway, and I’ve lived to talk about it. I know slow.

So before making a public (or seven semi-public) proclamation that a 180 horsepower crossover is a rolling death trap because it only does the quarter-mile in 17 seconds, think about it for a second. You might just save yourself some embarrassment.

2 Comments

  1. I think a lot of the thoughts around a vehicle being too slow are most like driven (not to be punny) this era of instant gratification. Which reminds me now that I’ve got our L300 running again. I need to hit up Delicargo for some of those, “65mph max speed” stickers! lol
    Also we own a 2018 Crosstrek and personally it feels like a space ship capable of reaching light speed by comparison to our L300 Delica!

  2. What is dangerous is people using there acceleration on the street – seriously does a car need to accelerate that fast to get to 25mph or 35mph or even 35-50mph or 50mph to 65mph.

    Last time I checked the highway didn’t require a 0 to 65mph start.

    And if it did – I’d expect the driver to have a brain and not pull out into 65mph traffic expecting a miracle.

    Keep your wits about you, your head of a swivel and rubber side goes down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.