Thanks to continual advances in safety, technology and reliability, the average car, truck or SUV satisfies the needs of most American consumers, be it for commuting, hauling cargo, towing or simple driving excitement. While “average” is fine, there are extremes within the automotive market — the vehicles at either end of the spectrum. These outliers make up a small percentage of cars on the road, yet they garner the most attention. With that in mind, we present automotive extremes — the highs and the lows.
Best Fuel Economy — Tesla Model 3
When it comes to fuel economy, the fully electric Tesla Model 3 bests all other vehicles sold in America. According to the U.S. EPA, the Model 3 gets rated at 148 MPGe city / 132 MPGe hwy / 141 MPGe combined. With a base price of $39,990, the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus serves up a 250-mile range with seating for five and a plethora of high-tech features including app control (no key!), a valet card, charging docks, and hidden air vents.
Worst Fuel Economy — Bugatti Divo
If car shoppers have a vehicle such as the Bugatti Divo in their consideration set, chances are fuel economy is not high on their list of priorities. The Divo’s massive quad-turbo 16-cylinder engine generates 1500 horsepower and has an equally powerful thirst for fuel. With a rating of 9 mpg city / 13 mpg hwy / 10 mpg combined, the Divo barely edges out the Lamborghini Aventador for the worst fuel economy rating in America. At full throttle, the Divo will suck its tank dry in about seven minutes.
Fastest Acceleration to 60 mph — Rimac C Two
The second model from Croatia-based Rimac, the C Two is one of the most powerful electric hypercars in the world. The C Two is powered by four electric motors — one at each wheel — for a combined output of 1914 horsepower. With almost 1700 lb-ft of torque generated instantly, the Rimac will reach 60 mph in an astounding 1.85 seconds, continuing on to 186 mph in 11.8 seconds.
Slowest Acceleration to 60 mph — Mitsubishi Mirage
The Mitsubishi Mirage has the lowest horsepower of any vehicle in America, so it’s no surprise that this small car also is the slowest when it comes to acceleration. The 3-cylinder engine generates a mere 74 lb-ft of torque, so full throttle doesn’t exactly mean strong acceleration. Reports vary regarding exactly how slow the Mirage may be, but the consensus says it will take about 12.8 seconds to reach 60 mph — assuming it’s not uphill.
Top Speed — SSC Tuatara
Sixteen years ago, a small car company in Washington state introduced the Ultimate Aero, a version of which became the world’s fastest production car — in 2007 — at a speed of 256.14 mph. Since then the record has been broken several times. Now SSC takes that record back with the Ultimate Aero’s successor, the all-new Tuatara. On October 19, 2020, this American-made hypercar recorded an official top speed of 316.11 mph — the average of two runs. During one of the runs the car achieved an astounding 331.15 mph. Designed to exceed the Ultimate Aero’s performance, the Tuatara’s body, frame and monocoque are all constructed from carbon fiber, a material of light weight and high strength. The mid-engine Tuatara has a twin-turbo 5.9-liter V8 powerplant that produces 1750 horsepower and a massive 1280 lb-ft of torque. Power gets sent to the rear wheels via a CIMA 7-speed automatic gearbox capable of shifts in less than 100 milliseconds.
Most Horsepower — Lotus Evija
Lotus Cars established its retail reputation building lightweight, high-performance sports cars equally at home on both track and street. In that vein, Lotus has introduced an all-new flagship sports car — the Evija, pronounced ih-VIE-uh. The first Lotus built on a full carbon fiber chassis, the Evija sits low and wide with a sleek silhouette that introduces a new design language for the marque. Aside from the standout design, the Evija sets itself apart from other hypercars with a fully electric powertrain. The Evija has an electric motor mounted at every wheel for an estimated total output of 1973 horsepower and 1254 lb-ft of torque. Lotus plans to create a mere 130 copies of the Evija, and production is expected to begin later in 2020.
Least Horsepower — Mitsubishi Mirage
The entry-level sedan in the Mitsubishi lineup, the Mirage is one of the lowest priced cars in America. A textbook example of the axiom, “You get what you pay for,” the small sedan is powered by a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine that produces a paltry 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. While the Mirage offers truly little in terms of driving performance, it does get reasonable fuel economy with an EPA-rated 36 mpg city / 43 mpg highway.
Most Towing Capacity — Ford F-450 Super Duty
Ford introduced a refreshed F-Series Super Duty for the 2020 model year, and in addition to its updated styling the big truck received new features as well as more capability. For those who need maximum towing power, Ford offers the Super Duty with a 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 engine that pumps out 475 horsepower and a class-leading 1,050 lb-ft of torque at only 1600 rpm. With the right configuration — F-450 Super Duty Regular Cab — this heavy-duty truck can tow up to 37,000 pounds — almost five times its own weight.
Most Expensive — Bugatti La Voiture Noire
Produced for a Bugatti enthusiast, La Voiture Noire is a stunning, sleek grand touring coupe with sculpted bodywork in black carbon fiber — a modern sports car that pays tribute to the legendary Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic developed by Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean. Under the hood of the Bugatti La Voiture Noire resides the same engine that powers the Bugatti Chiron Sport: an 8.0-liter W16 with quad turbochargers producing 1500 horsepower and 1180 lb-ft of torque. According to Bugatti, a car collector purchased La Voiture Noire for 11 million Euros — approximately U.S. 12.4 million dollars — making it the world’s most expensive new car.
Least Expensive — Chevrolet Spark
Stylish and fun to drive, the Chevrolet Spark comes in several bright colors with funky names such as Passion Fruit, Toasted Marshmallow and Red Hot. With a base MSRP of only $13,400, the Spark comes rather well equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, two USB ports, a rearview camera and a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Power comes from a 1.4-liter engine produces 98 horsepower while delivering up to 38 mpg on the highway.
Most Payload — Ford F-350 Super Duty
Ford offers some of the most capable trucks on the road in the F-Series Super Duty. For those who need to haul the biggest payload, the proper choice would be the F-350 Super Duty Regular Cab 2WD pickup, which can tote up to 7,850 pounds. For some perspective, Super Duty could haul a fully-loaded F-150 in its bed — if it would fit.
Most Powerful SUV — Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Jeep vehicles have earned a solid following for their off-road prowess, while FCA cousin Dodge built its reputation around high-powered muscle cars. The Grand Cherokee Trackhawks bring the best of both worlds, offering the fully capable Grand Cherokee Trackhawk powered by a 707-horsepower supercharged V8 engine from the Dodge Hellcat. With excellent traction and enormous power, the Trackhawk can leap to 60 mph in a mere 3.4 seconds.
Quickest / Most Powerful Pickup Truck — Ram 1500 TRX
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles continues to find novel uses for its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine — the company recently put the powerful V8 into a Ram 1500 pickup truck to create an off-road monster — the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX. Ram bills the high-performance 702-horsepower TRX as the quickest, fastest and most powerful mass-produced truck in the world. The full-size pickup sprints to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, reaches 100 mph in 10.5 seconds, and runs the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph. Top speed gets limited to 118 mph — restricted due to the truck’s off-road tires. The TRX has the ability to handle harsh terrain at speeds exceeding 100 mph.
Most Extreme RV — Marchi Mobile Palazzo Superior
Bespoke motorcoach builder Marchi Mobile claims the Palazzo Superior is the most luxurious mobile home in the world, and it is a tough claim to refute. Unlike anything else on the road, the Palazzo Superior looks extreme from any angle, starting with its unique round windshield. Inside the Palazzo Superior, lucky occupants remain comfortable via a multi-zone air-conditioning system as well as radiant floor heating. A 12-foot-long couch sits within reach of the bar and wine cabinet, while the master bedroom features a king-size bed crafted by the same company that supplies beds to the British royal family. A private spa off the master bedroom features a glazed rainfall shower. Another standout is the Sky Lounge. Railings automatically rise from the roof, providing a walled-in deck with integrated lounge furniture and a sunshade.
Longest Vehicle — Ford Super Duty Crew Cab
Perhaps the proper category for the Super Duty Crew Cab should be “Hardest Vehicle to Park.” Measuring almost 22 feet (263 inches) from bumper to bumper, the Super Duty Crew Cab will not be finding many standard parking spots that can fit this large truck. The multiple cameras do help with maneuvering — if a large enough space can be found.
Shortest Vehicle — Chevrolet Spark
Now that the smart car has been discontinued in America, the Chevrolet Spark is not only the least expensive car in America, it is also the shortest. A bit under 12 feet long (143.1 inches), the Spark packs a surprising amount of room into the cabin for such a small vehicle.
Fastest at the Nurburgring — Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
The Lamborghini Aventador is already one of the most extreme sports cars available in America, but the Italian automaker was able to raise the bar even higher with the Aventador SVJ. This limited-edition Aventador gets a boost to 770 horsepower generated by its big V12 engine. With power sent to all four wheels, the SVJ can reach 62 mph in 2.8 seconds, and 124 mph comes up in 8.6 seconds. But the most impressive stat is the SVJ’s time around the famed Nürburgring-Nordschleife — this special Aventador completed a lap in 6:44.97 minutes — setting the record for production cars.
Slowest at the Nurburgring — Toyota Prius Plug-In
A speed record from a Toyota Prius at the Nurburgring is not a headline anyone would expect to read, but in 2014 a Prius Plug-In managed the feat. Granted, it wasn’t a modified uber-Prius, and it wasn’t going fast — this fuel-efficient hybrid recorded the slowest-ever time around the famed racetrack. Taking a full 20 minutes 59 seconds to complete the 12.9 mile circuit, the Prius engaged its gasoline engine only once on an uphill section of the track. With an average speed around 40 mph, the Prius Plug-In recorded an impressive 698 mpg, using a mere 5 tablespoons of fuel over the entire lap. (The Lamborghini likely required more fuel to start its engine.)