What is the Average Horsepower of a Car?

In the days before automobiles were invented, horses were the main mode of transportation. These beasts of burden pulled wagons and carriages. The term horsepower became associated with engine power because of engineer James Watt; LiveScience explains that he needed to translate his engine’s power dominance in a way that people could understand.  

Today, the engine of a modern car is still denoted by horsepower. What is the average horsepower of a car and should this spec be a major consideration for car buyers? Car and Driver released the most popular cars for 2022; here is the horsepower of the top five models:

  • Ford F-Series (150)

290 to 450 horsepower

  • Ram Pickup (1500)

260 to 702 horsepower

  • Chevrolet Silverado (1500)

277 to 420 horsepower

  • Toyota RAV4

203 horsepower

293 to 357 horsepower

The Horsepower of Trucks and SUVs

Consumers will notice that all the most popular vehicles seem to have significant horsepower. However, the most popular vehicles of the year also are SUVs and trucks.

Heavier vehicles include more powerful engines. In addition, the F-Series, Ram pickup and the Silverado also are designed for towing. Pulling extra weight requires a more powerful engine, and, thus, more horsepower.

While trucks and SUVs need powerful engines, what about the standard sedan or compact car? How much horsepower do these cars offer?

The Most Popular Sedans of 2022

Car and Driver’s list of 2022’s best-selling vehicles (so far, as the year isn’t even halfway over) also included numerous sedans and small cars. Here are the most popular cars, according to current sales figures and the horsepower for each model:

  • Toyota Camry (ranked 7th)

202 to 301 horsepower

  • Tesla Model Y (ranked 11th)

About 480 horsepower

  • Toyota Corolla (ranked 14th)

139 to 169 horsepower

  • Honda Accord (ranked 19th)

192 to 252 horsepower

  • Tesla Model 3 (ranked 20th)

480 horsepower

  • Ford Escape (ranked 21st)

181 to 250 horsepower

  • Honda Civic (ranked 23rd)

158 to 180 horsepower

  • Nissan Altima (ranked 24th)

182 to 236 horsepower

While the Tesla models offer massive power for a smaller vehicle, many of the other models hover around a horsepower of around 200. What influences horsepower of these vehicles, and how is this spec even defined?

Car and Driver explains that horsepower is calculated by the torque multiplied by the RPM, and the site explains that, per Watts (the engineer who coined horsepower), “…one horsepower is the power required to lift 33,000 pounds exactly one foot in one minute.”

The amount of airflow in the engine influences the torque, and bigger engines allow more air and, thus, produce more torque.

Average Horsepower of a Car

What is the Average Horsepower of a Car?

The most popular cars offer about 200 horsepower. Is this average? The site Motor Hills states that 120 might be the average horsepower of cars. However, according to MotorTrend, the average horsepower for “light vehicles” in 2021 was about 250; this figure was cited to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For 2022 models, the horsepower specs are similar. Today’s buyers might expect many new models to offer a horsepower around 200 to 250.

Average Horsepower of a Car

The Least Powerful Car for 2022

While the average horsepower for many vehicles might hover around 250, there are many cars that fall well below the average. What are the cars with the least amount of horsepower? Autobytel rounded up the least powerful options. A few of the least powerful were discontinued; here are the five current models with the least amount of horsepower:

  • Mitsubishi Mirage

78 horsepower

  • Chevrolet Spark

98 horsepower

  • Nissan Versa

122 horsepower

  • Nissan Sentra

149 horsepower

  • Hyundai Elantra

147 to 201 horsepower

Both the Mirage and the Spark offer a horsepower of less than 100. Don’t expect these vehicles to offer much get-up-and-go in the form of acceleration and power. However, all the models on the list are some of the most affordable options available.

In fact, the Spark and the Mirage are the two most affordable models for new vehicles. The Spark has a starting MSRP of $13,600, and the Mirage starts at $14,645. The Nissan Versa is slightly more expensive than the Mirage, with a starting MSRP of $15,380.

Average Horsepower of a Car

Is Horsepower an Important Spec?

Buyers might wonder if they should focus their new car search on horsepower figures. Horsepower can be an important consideration for those that need extra power for towing. Yet, towing capacity might influence buying decisions, too.

Smaller vehicles like the Mirage and the Spark also offer less power. For some buyers, these cars are great options because they are so affordable. Buyers that want better acceleration, though, might look at other more powerful models.

Is horsepower an important spec? For some buyers it could be something worth considering. Those on a budget, though, might not care about the horsepower of their engine. They might just want a new car that is affordable, fuel efficient and is safe.

While the vehicles with the lowest horsepower might not be the most powerful cars available, they are quite budget friendly. In addition, the 2022 Nissan Sentra and the 2022 Hyundai Elantra received a Top Safety Pick rating/award (when equipped with specific headlights) from the insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The least powerful vehicles also make up for their lack of horsepower with amazing fuel efficiency. The Mitsubishi Mirage offers the best fuel efficiency (for a non-hybrid model) on the market. Here’s how each model ranks by MPG:

  • Mitsubishi Mirage

36 MPG city / 43 MPG highway

  • Hyundai Elantra

33 MPG city / 43 MPG highway

  • Nissan Versa

32 MPG city / 40 MPG highway

  • Chevrolet Spark

30 MPG city / 36 MPG highway

  • Nissan Sentra

29 MPG city / 39 MPG highway

Average Horsepower of a Car

The Horsepower of Sports Cars

Car buyers might each have a different checklist for the most important qualities of a new vehicle. Again, some might focus more on the price, the fuel efficiency or even the safety ratings. In fact, millennials tend to look at these three figures when shopping for a car.

Some buyers, though, want raw power. Sports cars are designed to be fast, and buyers of these automobiles might not care about the price or the fuel needs of these cars. Sports cars also have lots of horsepower.

Lamborghini Huracán

Lamborghini is luxury and speed. These cars are for buyers without a budget. The Lamborghini Huracán has a starting price of $327,838 and has a 630 horsepower engine. Motor1 noted that the Huracán can reach 200 MPH.

Ferrari 812 GTS

The Ferrari 812 GTS is new for 2022. The model boasts an engine with 789 horsepower. Car and Driver posits that this one will be “the end of an era,” as newer models will be hybrids. Carbuzz estimates that those interested in buying the new GTS might budget around $370,000.

Koenigsegg Regera

The hybrid Regera was last produced in 2020. However, this model is worth noting because it boasted an engine with 1500 horsepower. The price tag? The Regera cost about $1.9 million.

Tesla Model S Plaid

Those who think that electric can’t be a superpower might want to rethink their view on electric engines. The Tesla Model S Plaid’s engine boasts 1,020 horsepower. The Model S Plaid can hit speeds of 200 MPH, and it can accelerate from 0 to 60 in just under two seconds. It also offers an estimated range of 396 miles. The Model S Plaid is priced at $104,490.

Use RelayCars to Explore Vehicles and Compare Horsepower

While horsepower might not be the main consideration of some buyers, it could be a stat worth researching when comparing two different models. When car buyers want to research their options, they can download the RelayCars app or visit the mobile website to explore thousands of makes and models.

The RelayCars app is free to download via the App Store (for Apple devices) or Google Play (for Android). The app lets car shoppers explore a vast inventory with interactive 3D models or virtual reality (for those with access to Google Cardboard).

With the app, car shoppers can use their fingertips to interact with digital imagery of cars on the screen. Turn the car around and view the exterior from all angles. In addition, RelayCars provides buyers with the MSRP and specs for all models in its extensive inventory. Understand the horsepower of the engine and compare it to other options.

Those who decide to visit the RelayCars website from their mobile device also can explore 3D car models. In addition, the mobile site also lets buyers use augmented reality to preview different vehicles in their own environment.

Use the camera of a smartphone or tablet to capture any real backdrop. The augmented reality experience will then drop the selected vehicle into this space. Preview cars, trucks, minivans and SUVs anywhere. In addition, the RelayCars website also offers data for every model.

Use RelayCars to explore and research new cars before buying. When shoppers have decided on a few favorite models, they can start searching for the best prices. With RelayCars, shopping for a new car is immersive, interactive, and, most importantly, enjoyable!