Thoughts from America - cheddar
Hello All,

I have generally been anti SUV on the basis that unless you tow a horse box or run a farm there is little justification for driving such large inefficient and dynamically poor (on the road) vehicles that offer the every day motorist very few advantages and so many disadvantages over normal cars. However after driving the best part of 1000 miles around the USA in a 2005 model Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4.7 V8 I must say I now have a somewhat different perspective on the genre. The impression that 15 miles per US gallon makes on my wallet is lightened by 87 ron Gas being 75c/gal as opposed to 95 ron nearer 100p/gal in the UK, otherwise the Jeep is an immensely practical family vehicle coping admirably with the effects of Hurricane Ophelia (far less potent than Rita, yet alone Katrina!) i.e. torrential rain and flooded highways. Ok the Jeep is not a responsive handler though body roll is well controlled for such a large high vehicle, also the US roads do not offer much opportunity for spirited driving, 40mph limits being typical on major roads and only 55 to 65 on the highways/interstates. A couple of annoyances, wind noise around the sunroof/roof bars at 50mph plus also the "tiptronic" type auto transmission allows low gears to be held at higher speeds though not high gears to be held at lower speeds, i.e. selecting "2" in fact allows the transmission to use either "1" or "2", selecting "3" allows the transmission to use either "1" "2" or "3" etc, hence one cannot use the V8's torque to increase speed, any reasonable prod of the accelerator results in a rather more urgent kick down than really necessary.

A few years ago a visit to the 'states prospered very few genuinely interesting cars the average "yank tank" being a wallowing gas guzzler however it is clear now that there are some great cars available in the US that we do not see in Europe, the Acura (Honda's premium brand) TL and RL 4WD are great lookers and with 258 bhp 3.2 and 300 bhp 3.5 V6's they go a bit too. Likewise Infiniti (Nissan's premium brand) produce some great looking cars as do Lexus, particularly the 300 bhp IS350 that we do not, yet, get here. I have picked up a copy of Car and Driver mag where they test eight "sports sedans", OK the 330i wins, just, though notably the 9-3 Aero (new 2.8 V6) and S60R are beaten into 7th and 8th places by the IS350, Acura TL, Cadillac CTS etc.

Gas, the Jeep V8 produces 50bhp/litre so no surprise it runs on 87 ron petrol though how is it that US spec 255 bhp 330i's and similar can run on 91 ron when Euro spec cars "require" 95 ron with 98 ron being recommended, perhaps it is down to the local additives, any thoughts?

Regards.
Thoughts from America - Happy Blue!
Gas, the Jeep V8 produces 50bhp/litre so no surprise it runs
on 87 ron petrol though how is it that US spec
255 bhp 330i's and similar can run on 91 ron when
Euro spec cars "require" 95 ron with 98 ron being recommended,
perhaps it is down to the local additives, any thoughts?



US fuel uses a different measurement of RON (I think it is PON?), but 87 PON = 95RON approx.
--
Espada III - well if you have a family and need a Lamborghini, what else do you drive?
Thoughts from America - Dalglish
US fuel uses a different measurement of RON

>>

correct, as covered previously in the forum; - e.g.

www.honestjohn.co.uk/forum/post/index.htm?v=e&t=34...3

but for a detailed comparision of worldwide petrol/gas constituents, see

petroleum.nic.in/ch_8.pdf

Thoughts from America - Stuartli
It's also a smaller "gallon".
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What\'s for you won\'t pass you by
Thoughts from America - Bill Payer
I felt the same about SUV's until I drove earlier this year in the US, a Dodge Durango (like a Volvo XC90 on steriods) and, more recently a Jeep Grand Cherokee (didn't have any wind, or any other, noise, by the way - it was staggeringly quiet).
I now better understand what people in the UK see in them - you do get a sense of invulnerability (so instead of refusing to give way to SUV's in the UK, I might be more judicious in future!), and the higher driving position make everything about driving seem effortless.
Thoughts from America - Altea Ego
American cars make perfect sense in America, the concepts export very badly tho


Thoughts from America - cheddar
and, more recently a Jeep Grand Cherokee (didn't have
any wind, or any other, noise, by the way - it
was staggeringly quiet).


Did it have a sun roof?, the sunroof is optional and only on the Limted from what I can work out. Reckon it was a fault which I would have the dealer attend to if it was my own car.
Thoughts from America - Bill Payer
>> and, more recently a Jeep Grand Cherokee (didn't have
>> any wind, or any other, noise, by the way -
it
>> was staggeringly quiet).
>>
Did it have a sun roof?,

No. I was amazed by even the lack of road / tyre noise, driving at 120KPH (I was actually in Canada). As a reference point, I usually drive a Merc, so I'm used to quiet cars.
The issue you had the 'box may have been due to the way the car had been driven previously - normally on this type of car, the 'box learns the drivers driving style. I was surprised at how highly geared it was - mine was (I think) only a 3.6L V6, but at 120KPH (75MPH) it was only just doing 2000RPM. Mine seemed to hold high gears at low speeds - shifting down manually to slow the car on hills I frequently had to go all the way from 5th to 1st to get any real engine braking.
Thoughts from America - cheddar
The issue you had the 'box may have been due to
the way the car had been driven previously - normally on
this type of car, the 'box learns the drivers driving style.

>>

Reckon nearly 100 miles is enough to learn driving style however this is irrelevant when it comes to the manual functions of the box.
I was surprised at how highly geared it was -
mine was (I think) only a 3.6L V6, but at 120KPH
(75MPH) it was only just doing 2000RPM. Mine seemed to
hold high gears at low speeds - shifting down manually to
slow the car on hills I frequently had to go all
the way from 5th to 1st to get any real engine
braking.


The Laredo version is available with a 3.7 V6, must be the one you had, not much less powerful than the 4.7 though a lot less torque.
Thoughts from America - Tornadorot
you do get a sense of invulnerability


And that's a good thing?
Thoughts from America - Bill Payer
>> you do get a sense of invulnerability
And that's a good thing?

No - it's bad. That's why I added the comment about not refusing to give way to them in future. I do understand better why a certain type of person (ie those with small appendages) might feel happier in an SUV, though.
Thoughts from America - cheddar
It's also a smaller "gallon".


IIRC a US fl/oz is the same as ours though a US pint is 16 fl/oz as opposed to our 20 fl/oz hence a US gallon (8 pints) is 20% less, approx 4 ltr as opposed to approx 4.5 ltr. Hence 15 US mpg = approx 19 UK mpg.
Thoughts from America - Stuartli
a US pint is 16 fl/oz as opposed to our 20 fl/oz hence a US gallon (8 pints) is 20% less>>


The great majority of us older folk still regard eight pints as a gallon (Imperial) which is why I mentioned that it's a smaller "gallon"..:-)

Ironically if any American government had attempted to increase the cost of fuel by even a cent not all that long ago there would have been riots in the streets, but most motorists there now seem resigned to it because of the cumulative effects of terrorism, Iraq, hurricanes etc on its production.

On the other hand, although vehicles are cheap in the States compared to the UK and other countries, insurance costs are very much higher according to motorists I spoke to whilst in Florida and California. This also applies to other forms of insurance cover.
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What\'s for you won\'t pass you by
Thoughts from America - Bill Payer
>> It's also a smaller "gallon".
>>
IIRC a US fl/oz is the same as ours though a
US pint is 16 fl/oz as opposed to our 20 fl/oz
hence a US gallon (8 pints) is 20% less, approx 4
ltr as opposed to approx 4.5 ltr. Hence 15 US mpg
= approx 19 UK mpg.


It's not actually - 'ours' is (marginally) bigger:
1 UK Fl oz = 0.961 US Fl Oz.

In litres (or using any of the online US to UK conversion pages):
1 UK Gall = 4.546L
1 US Gall = 3.785L
so the US gall is 83.26% of ours.
Thoughts from America - cheddar
Ron v Mon might explain it however the US spec is clearly stated as Ron both on the pumps and in car brochures, hand books etc.
Thoughts from America - uk2usa
Ron v Mon might explain it however the US spec is
clearly stated as Ron both on the pumps and in car
brochures, hand books etc.




I just filled up my Focus SVT 5 mins ago here in Oregon. Trust me, they use (R+M)/2 to calculate octane over here
Thoughts from America - Roly93
>> Euro spec cars "require" 95 ron with 98 ron being
recommended,
>> perhaps it is down to the local additives, any thoughts?
US fuel uses a different measurement of RON (I think it
is PON?), but 87 PON = 95RON approx.


You cant really make 95 RON petrol from low grade petrol by using additives. Fuel used in Europe especially UK is refined to a much higher standard than Yank Petrol and Diesel, so the refinery production costs are slightly higher. In fact Americal diesel is of a very low standard (Cetane Rating) compared to the stuff we use - one of the several reasons why non-HGV diesel vehicles haven't been popular in the US.
Thoughts from America - codefarm
Like you I never liked SUV's and did not enjoy driving my wife's Honda CRV at all.

However I am very pleased with our new Chrysler Pacifica. Its 3.5L V6 gets 16M/gal here (I think that equates to about 21M/UK Gal; as cheddar noted gallons are smaller here)

Dynamically it's not great, but you don't buy one of these to be a sports car. It's got third row seating which folds down to increase luggage space, leather, sat/nav, four wheel drive for the midwestern winters, and a remotely opening/closing tailgate so my wife doesn't break her nails. The four front seats offer more than ample room, the rear two are somewhat more cramped.

It feels sturdy and well-built. And all for $24,000!







Thoughts from America - Cardew
Cheddar,
You are correct about the improvement in USA cars. Lexus started the trend of the 'premium' brand and it has had an effect on home bred cars. The Chrysler 300m is heavily influenced by the Merc E Class and is great value. The new Caddys are a huge improvement.

Not clear what you mean by this.

"The impression that 15 miles per US gallon makes on my wallet is lightened by 87 ron Gas being 75c/gal as opposed to 95 ron nearer 100p/gal in the UK"
Thoughts from America - cheddar
Not clear what you mean by this.
"The impression that 15 miles per US gallon makes on my
wallet is lightened by 87 ron Gas being 75c/gal as opposed
to 95 ron nearer 100p/gal in the UK"

>>

Simply that 15mpg is easier to live with when petrol is less than half the price.
Thoughts from America - cheddar
I meant to say that the Jeep sat nav is very impressive though you have to check the addresses, it is easy to get taken to, for instance, airport admin offices which might be a few miles from the terminals.

Also interesting that the entry level US Saab 9-3 has the 210bhp 2.0 ltr turbo, also the entry level new Passat has the 197bhp 2.0 turbo aka Golf GTI.
Thoughts from America - Bill Payer
I meant to say that the Jeep sat nav is very
impressive though you have to check the addresses, it is easy
to get taken to, for instance, airport admin offices which might
be a few miles from the terminals.


All sat nav's do this - they're a useful 'assist' but you still have to keep your wits about you and be prepared to ignore they say sometimes. Mine always tries to take me off the M5 to cut the corner off the M5/M42 junction, for example.
Also interesting that the entry level US Saab 9-3 has the
210bhp 2.0 ltr turbo, also the entry level new Passat has
the 197bhp 2.0 turbo aka Golf GTI.

They (generally) just don't 'do' smaller engines in the US. I Florida I was surprised to see quite a lot of Mazda 3's, but they all seemed to be badged as 2.3L engines, which would seem bonkers in the UK. BMW won't sell a 4cyl in the US, so their entry level car is a 325 (for less than our 318, of course).
Thoughts from America - Bill Payer
>>
>> Not clear what you mean by this.
>>
>> "The impression that 15 miles per US gallon makes on
my
>> wallet is lightened by 87 ron Gas being 75c/gal as
opposed
>> to 95 ron nearer 100p/gal in the UK"
>>
Simply that 15mpg is easier to live with when petrol is
less than half the price.

Think the confusion is that you wrote /gal when you meant /litre.
Thoughts from America - cheddar
>>
Think the confusion is that you wrote /gal when you meant
/litre.


I stand corrected.
Thoughts from America - Chad.R
>>how is it that US spec 255 bhp 330i's and similar can run on 91 ron when
Euro spec cars "require" 95 ron with 98 ron being recommended,



IIRC, most BMW petrol engines will run quite happily on lower RON fuel, the engine management will adjust the timing etc. accordingly. However to produce the max bhp i.e. 250+ it needs to be using fuel with higher octane ratings.
Thoughts from America - trancer
My friend's US model Passat V6 handbook states that 91+ octane petrol should be used. What that has to do with the RON discussion...probably nothing at all.

Cars can be cheaper to purchase in the US, but as was mentioned, insurance costs are much higher. Online quotes from my current insurer and the one I used in Florida for the same vehicle show that the Florida quote was twice than of the UK quote and the FL quote was TPO while the UK quote was TPFT. Admittedly the diffenrence in annual "road tax" closed the gap somewhat.

Another point, in the UK VAT is only paid on cars when new. In the US, all car sales regardless of age or where it is bought (trader or private owner)are subject to sales tax. While the sales tax rate is only 6-8% compared to the UK's 17.5% it is still an expense that has to be factored into the purchase price of any car.
Thoughts from America - expat
> Another point, in the UK VAT is only paid on cars when new. In >the US, all car sales regardless of age or where it is bought >(trader or private owner)are subject to sales tax. While the sales >tax rate is only 6-8% compared to the UK's 17.5% it is still an >expense that has to be factored into the purchase price of any >car.

You should be so lucky! Here in Australia we pay GST (our equivalent of VAT but at 10%) on new and seconhand cars. In addition to that there is state stamp duty to be paid also. Stamp duty cost me AU$700 on a AUS$17,800 car a few months ago. (conv AU$1 is approx 42 pence UK). You pay this stamp duty every time a vehicle changes hands which is another incentive not to change vehicles too often. Mind you we score on registration and insurance. AU$400 or so for rego and I pay AU$450 for fully comp insurance on the car. (I have 60% NCB). I don't think it would be that cheap in the UK for a 4lt station wagon.

Thoughts from America - Editor
hmm. Fuel is now around $3.00 per US gallon, more for premium. Interestingly shell's optimax is marketed as V power here & is set to replace their premium. I've seen it all over europe too, so they're pretty keen on it!

The americans are pretty upset about the current fuel price. So much so that car ads now feature selections of vehicles that return 30mpg or more. But not so much so that Ford etc have any intention of changing production or marketing emphasis of the SUV ranges.
Thoughts from America - Bill Payer
But not so much so that Ford
etc have any intention of changing production or marketing emphasis of
the SUV ranges.

That's because SUV's are hugely profitable - Ford/GM etc typically gross of the order of $10,000 per SUV sold, yet they still make huge losses. Imagine how big those losses would be if they were selling lower margin vehicles instead.
Thoughts from America - madf
The fact is that tooling up for a new range of small cars (small by US standards ) would be frighteningly expensive. Ford at least have a engine range partially common across the world.. but their US factories are tooled up to make larger cars and US wage costs (especially benefits) cost US car makers a fortune - typically $1,000 per car plus. (Japanese in US have better - lower- labour rates ).

The chances of the US owned car industry switching to smaller cars in volume are pretty slim. When petrol prices fall the US consumer gos back to gas guzzling. Meanwhile the Japanese and Asian makers keep increasing their market share.. Add to that some pretty bad management at GM and Ford in the past.. and the US car industry is going the way of the dinosaurs.


madf
Thoughts from America - Sofa Spud
I'm all for encouraging economical cars. I would never buy a another petrol car unless:-
a) technological developments made them more efficient than diesels or
b) I treated myself to a classic car as a hobby interest.

I'm not sure what I might buy next for day to day use but it will probably be something with a VW 1.9 TDI engine.

But in truth we could manage with a VW Polo with the 1.4 TDI 3-cylinder if we wanted real economy. So am I guilty of small-time gas guzzling?

Cheers, SS
Thoughts from America - Bagpuss
I'm on secondment in Detroit at the moment - a cheerless place if ever there was one though I'm spoiled as most of the time in the USA I get to stay in California. I've got the usual GM Mid-sized SUV as a rental car at the moment, in this case a GMC Envoy, though last week it was a Chevrolet Trailblazer which is a badge engineered version of the same car. Mid-sized by the way means enormous by UK standards, ie 5m long, ladder chassis and weighing around 2.5 tons. What always amazes me about these vehicles is how slow they are considering (if you believe the handbook) they have around 300bhp from the 4.2litre V6 engine. I know from experience the Jeep products (and Chrysler generally) are better but you can start to understand why the US manufacturers are in such trouble when you compare these dinosaurs with the infinitely better engineered Japanese competition.
Thoughts from America - cheddar
What always amazes me about these vehicles is
how slow they are considering (if you believe the handbook) they
have around 300bhp from the 4.2litre V6 engine.

I know from
experience the Jeep products (and Chrysler generally) are better but you
can start to understand why the US manufacturers are in such
trouble when you compare these dinosaurs with the infinitely better engineered
Japanese competition.


Well the 4.7 litre Jeep produces 235 bhp, not a massive output though does 60 in under 9 seconds which is not bad.

Re GM/US engineering, there is not much wrong with the Cadillac CTS.
Thoughts from America - Adam {P}
If Renault can get 180 brake from a 2.0, I'd be expecting a lot more than 235 from a 4.7

>>Re GM/US engineering, there is not much wrong with the Cadillac CTS.<<

Exception to the rule though isn't it?


Thoughts from America - nick
If Renault can get 180 brake from a 2.0, I'd be
expecting a lot more than 235 from a 4.7

Shedloads of torque though, I bet?
Thoughts from America - Roberson
If Renault can get 180 brake from a 2.0, I'd be
expecting a lot more than 235 from a 4.7


That?s what gets me about the U.S. For years, they have used massive engines, which somehow have an asthmatic output and then to add insult to injury, mate it to a slush box which saps all of the remaining power from it.
Thoughts from America - Kevin
>That?s what gets me about the U.S. For years, they have used massive
>engines, which somehow have an asthmatic output and then to add insult
>to injury, mate it to a slush box which saps all of the remaining power
>from it.

You guys STILL believe what you read about American cars in the 70's don't you?

American V8s and now the more common V6s are designed for early, flat torque delivery and relaxed driving, not for maximum power outputs in a peaky rev band at high rpm. They are the petrol-powered equivalents of modern common rail diesels. You can dawdle along at 1500 rpm in any gear and still have enough grunt to accelerate quickly without having to kickdown or stir the 'box. Capable of starship mileages with nothing more than regular oil, filter and plug changes, they are also reasonably good on fuel.

Likewise, 'slush' boxes disappeared years ago.

For glub's sake at least drive one or do a bit of research before you post.

Kevin...
Thoughts from America - Roberson
Fair point

But reading some of the above comments doesn't always suggest things are much better.
Thoughts from America - Bagpuss
They are the petrol-powered equivalents of modern common rail diesels.

Yep, they frequently seem to have a similarly narrow power band.
You can dawdle along at 1500 rpm in any gear and still have enough
grunt to accelerate quickly without having to kickdown or stir the
'box.

Nope, the ones I've driven lately need to kick down to get any sort of acceleration, and we're talking 4.2litre engines and (claimed) 300bhp.

Don't get me wrong, I spend a lot of time in the USA and I really enjoy driving here. It's relaxing, it's easy, and the drivers are generally polite and considerate, but the technology in the cars seems to be regressing to the 1970s. There are are exceptions like the Chrysler Pacifica and the Ford Mustang convertible a lucky colleague of mine got as a long term rental car (sadly not the V8) but some of the stuff here is hilariously awful - Pontiac Aztek anyone?
Thoughts from America - cheddar
The point in my original post is that you cant dawdle along at 1500 rpm in any gear and expect to accelerate quickly without having to kickdown or stir the box.

Point of interst is the number of interesting cars that are available in the US and not in the UK such as the Acura's mentioned in my first post.

Also another point re the Jeep Grand Ch'kee, the 2005 restyle makes it look more compact (though it isnt) and the frontal treatment gives it a far less aggressive more friendly look.
 

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