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Anthony Fongaro

Does Zero to 60 MPH Really Matter?

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Imagine you’re me: someone who has used 0-60 MPH to judge how fast a car is. If a car is slower than 8.0 seconds, I wouldn’t poke it with a 10-foot pole. If it’s faster than 4.0 seconds, I cling to it to feel the rush and acceleration. That was until I was a short-lived car salesman and automotive blogger. As a car salesman, I found out that people didn’t understand or care that their vehicle did 0-60 MPH in 6.7 seconds. As a blogger, performance enthusiasts did care, but there are other statistics that mattered more. When I combine both, which happened at different parts of my life so there was no conflict of interest, I found out that 0-60 MPH has a few flaws.

Let’s start with the obvious question: “Anthony, why do we measure performance with 0-60 MPH? That sounds really random and weird.” The obvious answer: Americans aren’t exactly the most informed about the metric system. Non-obvious answer: In the metric system, the measurement for performance is 0-100 kilometers per hour or KPH. That translates roughly to 62 MPH, which is rounded down to 60 MPH. Due to this, all vehicles are judged on how quickly they can accelerate to this number. 

Part of me understands why we measure this. It’s ingrained in us that these numbers matter. As I said, I would rather take a car that would go from 0-60 in 4 seconds compared to 8 seconds. Especially with electric car manufacturers like Tesla, 0-60 times are plummeting. It is fun to drive something that you know is going to be fast because of these numbers. For enthusiasts, knowing a car’s basic stats like 0-60 MPH makes it simple to pick between different vehicles.  These measurements can also be skewed. Like trying to weigh yourself on different scales, 0-60 MPH times can vary. Sometimes they are even quicker than what the manufacturer says while other times they can be a full second slower. So, this all makes sense now, right?

No. No, it doesn’t. Problem number one: Who goes from 0-60 MPH as quickly as they can? I know I don’t.  Here are a few ways that, combined, make up this number. Most cars have a sport mode that can make the car faster by making the engine more vivacious. Combine this with something called launch-control which is used to “launch” the car as easily as possible—cars are measured and given their number.

These measurements aren’t accurate because not everyone will get the same results. Like trying to weigh yourself on different scales, 0-60 MPH times can vary. Sometimes they are even quicker than what the manufacturer says while other times they can be a full second slower. Can I try to go 0-60 MPH? Sure, but on public roads, it just doesn’t make sense. I live in the suburbs far enough from Chicago that the roads are usually under construction with many police officers who want to pull you over for going too fast. I also live by a highway that can get to 70 MPH after about 20 miles. Even on the highway, I can probably count a few times I went from 0-60 MPH, and it was a lot slower than what VW told me.

Problem number two: People don’t understand or care. When I was selling a German luxury brand, I would spout out all the facts and figures I knew about the vehicle. One of them would be the horsepower, along with the torque and 0-60 MPH figures. Most of them didn’t care unless we were talking about the performance versions of the car. Instead, they would rank how the car feels on the road, how the car does on the highway, technology, fuel economy, and looks. Yes, performance can factor into this but if you want a hybrid or a frugal vehicle, you either know it won’t be as fast as a BMW M3 or don’t really care since you’ll get almost triple the fuel economy.


Problem number three: Bragging rights. “My brand-new car can go 0-60 MPH in 3.5 seconds!” “Wow!” Then you get in and drive at 35 MPH. Like horsepower figures, 0-60 MPH is the benchmark for performance. Because of this, if you own a car with a lower 0-60 MPH time, you might be considered one of the cool kids. Once again, electric manufacturers like Tesla make some seriously quick cars, but that isn’t the entire story. Off the line, their cars will feel like a rocket but at certain speeds, like at 70 MPH, that figure doesn’t matter anymore. 


What should we do instead of measuring in just 0-60 MPH? I think we should start at different speeds. On the highway, sometimes you must go 20 or 30 to 60 or 70 MPH or faster on passing speeds. Also, we should judge cars based on more than just straight-line performance. A car can be extremely quick off the line, but if it doesn’t feel right when you drive it, the speed doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, stats are meaningless unless you drive what you’re interested in unless it’s some 2.6 seconds 0-60 MPH Ferrari. In this case, just fire up Forza or Gran Turismo. 


Thoughts and opinions? Think 0-60 MPH or 0-100 KPH times are the king of statistics? Let us know in the comments below and follow us on social media!


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0-60 is a nice start.  With most common cars and luxury cars, that stat is not exactly what most buyers focus on.  They focus on how they drive and whether that vehicle meets their expectations.  0-60 does not help with normal city driving.  Torque (and especially torque at 1500RPM) is what matters a lot in city driving and merging onto a highway.  Comfort, ride and amenities really matter to most people (me included).  Brake distances to a full stop matter a lot too.  Truck buyers want to know about towing capacity.  Minivan drivers want to know about smooth ride and creature comforts.  Even if you get a high-performance sedan, 99% of the time you will be driving in a town, not a racetrack.  Running costs, not just fuel costs and insurance, matter too.

Ultimately, a good car salesman will find out what vehicle a buyer needs and steer him/her in the right direction.  0-60 may not matter in most cases from a customer's POV.

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0-60 doesn't  matter in practical use, but nor do 1/4 mile times.   The issue is how do you measure a car's acceleration?

Can you measure 0-30 time at a peak of 2500 rpm to judge how a car feels or pulls away under light load?  There is no way to compare power/torque delivery of a vehicle due to weight, transmissions and gearing being different on all of them that you can' just compare horsepower.  

Cars spent most of their life driving under 60 mph, unless you do constant interstate driving.  And the times you are above 60 at interstate speed you aren't really using acceleration.  So I think 0-60 makes sense in that it shows how much acceleration power a car has in typical driving speeds.

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I think the days of 0 to 60 are over, if we really wanted to judge an auto's capability, then having a 30 mph to 70 mph is more realistic in showing how well said auto can get up to highway speed and merge in.

Why 30 to 70 and not 0 to 60? Easy, as many have pointed out, we are not spending our day constantly stomping on the accelerator to go from a dead stop to highway speed. If anything we could justify a 0 to 30 matters as we do plenty of local driving from a dead stop. Next thing is the merging onto a free way which usually you have to move from around 30 to highway speed quick. As such a the 0 to 60 mph test is out of date.

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No car is sold on a single statistic, so 0-60 is not more important than other stats. But it's an indicator of the potential of a car's acceleration, just as the cubic foot space of a trunk is an indicator of just how much crap you can shove back there... or the towing capacity of a 3/4-ton truck indicates that. Doesn't mean you have to use the vehicle to these capacities, ever. Which is exactly why Car A being quicker to -let's say 60 MPH, than Car B is not a deficiency for Car B. People seldom (and sometimes never) use their vehicles to their max capacity... yet still these stats effect people's consumerism. Bizarre, isn't it?

Does '0-60' "need" to be replaced? Nope.

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14 hours ago, balthazar said:

No car is sold on a single statistic, so 0-60 is not more important than other stats. But it's an indicator of the potential of a car's acceleration, just as the cubic foot space of a trunk is an indicator of just how much crap you can shove back there... or the towing capacity of a 3/4-ton truck indicates that. Doesn't mean you have to use the vehicle to these capacities, ever. Which is exactly why Car A being quicker to -let's say 60 MPH, than Car B is not a deficiency for Car B. People seldom (and sometimes never) use their vehicles to their max capacity... yet still these stats effect people's consumerism. Bizarre, isn't it?

Does '0-60' "need" to be replaced? Nope.

Might not need to be replaced, but it sure could be enhanced with further stats that show the ability of the auto in comparison to others.

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Thats why most sources use 0-30, 0-60 & 1/4-mile at a minimum. Enhancement.

But the argument that ‘no one does max accel runs 0-60’ is just as applicable to 30-70.

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3 hours ago, balthazar said:

Thats why most sources use 0-30, 0-60 & 1/4-mile at a minimum. Enhancement.

But the argument that ‘no one does max accel runs 0-60’ is just as applicable to 30-70.

ok, make it 30 to 50, I see that all the time, people getting on a freeway wait to the last few feet before stomping on their eco box and it does not move. Having the ability to see from a mid speed to freeway speed is important to safe merging. IMHO

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I'd rather see what the car does at half throttle, but the manufacturers have already found a cheat for that. 

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0-60, 5-60, 30-50, 50-70, 0-100, quarter mile, I always look up those stats. Seat of the pants impressions for me are often in line with the numbers IMO. 

i would balk at purchasing any car with a 0-60 above say, 9 seconds.  

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22 minutes ago, regfootball said:

I would balk at purchasing any car with a 0-60 above say, 9 seconds.  

OK. Do you have an idea how often, in your estimation, you would do 0-60 in under 9 secs if you were in a -say- 7 sec car?

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On 9/20/2019 at 6:17 PM, Drew Dowdell said:

0 to 60 doesn't matter because you don't go around flooring it all the time

Tell it to me wife ...

On a more serious note, my wife as an example doesn't know and doesn't care what is 0-60 time is, however when she test drove cars, the feel of acceleration from stop, how fast the car got going made a big difference in her decision.  Most people don't "care" what exact 0-60 times is but a lot of people care how well car accelerates from a stop.  Most people don't floor it all the time but from experience there is a big difference in "feel" between a 6 second car and 7.5-8 sec.

Edited by ykX
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Even in my car with a 0-60 that can be measured with a sundial, I rarely ever floor it. 

I have to disagree with the idea that an 8 second car is slow. Big old RWD Chevy Impalas are 8 second cars and they are way more than the average driver can handle anyway.  Part of that is because of the torque they've got. 

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I didn't say that 8-sec car is slow, it is adequate for regular driving.   But there is a notable difference between 8-sec and 6-sec car, even 8 and 7 sec.

Also, depends where the torque is, some slower car that have more torque at low rpm feel faster then they really are.

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13 minutes ago, ykX said:

I didn't say that 8-sec car is slow, it is adequate for regular driving.   But there is a notable difference between 8-sec and 6-sec car, even 8 and 7 sec.

Also, depends where the torque is, some slower car that have more torque at low rpm feel faster then they really are.

This, exactly, is why 0-60 doesn't matter as much. It's why the Impala feels faster than an 8-second 4-cylinder. It's why some of these 2.0Ts with mediocre peak torque still feel fast when paired with a 9-speed automatic.  Heck, even my Encore feels perky when just being driven around town.... it's pulling onto the freeway that its pathetic 138 lb.-ft is really noticed. 

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7 hours ago, balthazar said:

OK. Do you have an idea how often, in your estimation, you would do 0-60 in under 9 secs if you were in a -say- 7 sec car?

IMO, it isn't so much about the 0-60 time being exactly what I do but it still lets you know how hard it does or does not accelerate. I don't go 0-60 pretty much ever but I know I'll pass people and looking at two different 0-60 times, I can tell which one will do the job with ease and which one I'll have to do with more planning and caution. 

28 minutes ago, ykX said:

Also, depends where the torque is, some slower car that have more torque at low rpm feel faster then they really are.

I think that is what Ford keyed on when throwing their EcoBoost engines to the world. They're not some crazy powerhouse engine but when you go to test drive one you have almost all of your usable power in the low to mid range with those tiny turbos. 

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0-60 may be a dumb metric, but is there really any other way to measure off the line feel?

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I definitely notice the difference between my new 6.4 second rig and my previous 8.6 or so rig. 

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On 9/20/2019 at 3:17 PM, Drew Dowdell said:

0 to 60 doesn't matter because you don't go around flooring it all the time

I do!! Lol

5 hours ago, Drew Dowdell said:

Even in my car with a 0-60 that can be measured with a sundial, I rarely ever floor it. 

I have to disagree with the idea that an 8 second car is slow. Big old RWD Chevy Impalas are 8 second cars and they are way more than the average driver can handle anyway.  Part of that is because of the torque they've got. 

Took the C5 out yesterday, was beautiful here in Phoenix. Lets just say I had a few spirited runs to 60 and maybe a lil more :)

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On 9/23/2019 at 10:49 AM, USA-1 Vortec 6.2 said:

I do!! Lol

Took the C5 out yesterday, was beautiful here in Phoenix. Lets just say I had a few spirited runs to 60 and maybe a lil more :)

Wish I could fit into a Corvette to drive one as I would love too. Have to settle for my Corvette based Trailblazer SS AWD which has had many spirited triple digits drives! :P 

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11 minutes ago, ccap41 said:

"Corvette based Trailblazer SS AWD"

 half baked lol GIF

So you did not know that the SS are based on a corvette? It is the same C6 Corvette power train with a stiffer suspension, taller air intake to take advantage of better torque to move the heavier body on frame auto.

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