Hooniverse Asks- What are the Acceptable Performance Parameters of a Standard Daily Driver?

I’ll bet you would kill to get behind the wheel of  one of Mopar’s new Hellcat cars. With 707 horsepower, sub-four second zero to sixty times, and a top end of over 200 miles per hour, the Challenger and Charger bring hypercar performance to the masses. Well, the upper-middle class masses, whoever they might be. The thing of it is, while these new Dodges offer unbelievable bang for the buck, I think it’s pretty accurate to say that, for daily driver duties, each of them is probably overkill.
That got me to thinking about the other side of the coin and what would be the minimum performance requirements for a stalwart, and daily-driven steed. Today you can buy cars in many places that will do zero to sixty in under 5 seconds and top out well deep in the triple digits. With many areas limiting speeds either through posted limits or ever-growing traffic, are either of those factors important anymore?
What do you think would be important? What top speed would you need on a daily basis, and just how fast would you need to get to speed, or around a corner? What are the acceptable performance parameters of a daily driver these days?
Image: Road & Track via Photobucket

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  1. PotbellyJoe ★★★★★ Avatar
    PotbellyJoe ★★★★★

    I'm daily driving a Vibe GT, so take all of this from that perspective.
    [Metric – Minimum, Target, Star]
    0-60 – 8, 6.5, 5.5
    MPG – 23, 27, 31
    Skidpad – .8, ..85, .9
    1/4 – 16, 14.5, 13.6
    Seats – 2+2, 4, 5
    Cost – Cheap, Cheap, Cheap
    The biggest thing for daily use is having enough car to be worthwhile to drive, but still comfortable enough to drive all of the time. I know guys who commute in S2000s, I think they're crazy. They see my drive in in my Pontiac, they think I'm crazy.
    Get a car that lets you enjoy the drive. Whether that's a sports car, a really good stereo, a very comfortable seat, complete isolation from the road, whatever. Everyone has what they like. Don't buy a car simply because it's the cool thing, or you think it makes you better. That's just buying marketing. If you buy a car you enjoy, you will always be able to defend your decision.

    1. skitter Avatar

      ratio – Minimum, Current, Desired
      lbs / hp – 36, 22.5, 15
      mpg – 27, 30, 50
      mph / 1000rpm (top gear) – 24, 25, 30

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        Now that is one of the most efficient comments of the whole internet, ever.

  2. Sjalabais Avatar

    Is "character" a performance parameter? If so, slow is good enough. 1986 cm3 is as much volum as the engine needs.
    <img src="http://s26.postimg.org/qh2lswuzt/P1060571.jpg&quot; width="600">
    <img src="http://s26.postimg.org/egh5s6nl5/P1060562.jpg&quot; width="600">
    My daily driver Honda lacks character, has only 125hp/144 lb-ft, but I never take it racing anyway. It takes 11.1 seconds from 0-60, but, on the other hand, I get exactly 40mpg out of it. That's also a performance parameter, eh?

  3. Maymar Avatar

    For my sake, a 0-60 of about 10 seconds is plenty, along with a top speed of around 80mph (I'll usually top out around 130km/h for up to ten minutes at a time on my particular commute). As far as cornering goes, it doesn't take much around here to get around a corner faster than, well, everyone else.
    But yeah, fuel economy's important, as I'm currently spending $300-$400 a month on gas.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      A) Long commute.
      B) Hole in the gas tank.
      C) Shameless fuel consumption.
      D) Goldpetrol2000UltraPremiumDeluxe customer?

      1. Maymar Avatar

        Extensive commute, mostly – I'm about 30-40km from my territory at work, and then usually end up driving 10-80km before coming back home. I mean, in about six months since I bought my car, I've put 23k kms on it. That's at about 7.5-8.5l/100km, and gas prices have been anywhere between about $0.80-$1.40CDN/L in the past year or so.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          That is a lot of driving indeed! I hope you have good seats…

  4. neight428 Avatar

    For me (and I would wager most enthusiastic drivers) top speed is something of an interesting, but ultimately not terribly meaningful byproduct of Power That Makes It Fun. Acceleration is the most enjoyable aspect of a daily driver on my route, but I could see nimble handling being a more efficient source of grins on otherwise thankless driving duty if you had twistier roads to deal with than I.
    As for how much is enough, that's a silly question, because quicker acceleration is always just a higher dollar figure away and the other uses one has for his scarce dollars will temper the relative value of MOAR. I personally find a few occasions to deploy all the available horses of my daily driver on freeway on-ramps and merging and they prove to be far more than anyone really needs, but I could totally see doing the same thing with another 150 of them on tap from an aftermarket supercharger, the fun just wouldn't last as long and the poor tires wouldn't stand a chance.
    It's all a bang for your buck proposition in my head. What particular flavor of bang is your thing will vary.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      For what it's worth, I daily drove a 2007 Civic for ~110k miles and it was completely adequate in terms of acceleration and top speed needed to get around. I use a 2014 Mustang GT now, and I couldn't be happier with the decision. Its capabilities are well beyond what anyone ever needs, but the times I get to use them are among the best experiences I have every day. It is my indulgence, one I highly recommend. Also, I rarely travel at speeds that exceed the prevailing left lane pace (which is plenty fast around here), I just get there with due haste.

  5. Kiefmo Avatar

    I know I'm going to be in the minority here, because everyone wants SPEEEEEEEED and POWAAAAAH, but based on my current DD, with which I have no problem moving about in traffic (but I wouldn't want any slower), here's what I'd consider acceptable minimums:
    0-60: 15s
    Cornering: 0.65 – 0.7g
    Braking from 60: 150ft
    MPG: mid-20s overall
    Bonus: When you drive an S-class, even one that's 34 years old, you somehow start feeling superior to everyone and everything else on the road. It isn't a fun drive, but it is a damned satisfying one.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      From what I gather, the Hooniverse's regulars are a pretty relaxed crowd with a surprising tendency to drive rational cars most days of the week. Rarity and personal preferences top the quicker, meaner, louder department. My 2ct.

    2. Andrew_theS2KBore Avatar

      After 8 months commuting in an AW11 MR2, I came to the realization that 0-60 in ~7sec is the minimum sort of acceleration you need to merge comfortably into California freeway traffic. The same goes for brakes- you really want something in the 110-120ft sort of range, for when the individual talking/texting/screaming at their children swerves into your lane and you're blocked to the side… although with modern(ish) cars, tire grip is usually the limiting factor there.
      Personally, I gravitate toward requiring a convertible with a manual transmission, so the majority of my options meet those parameters by default.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar

        Momentum is your friend. My car might be slow to accelerate, but I never have to settle for merging slower than traffic, because I use all she's got on the on-ramp.

        1. Andrew_theS2KBore Avatar

          During commuting hours, California on-ramps are controlled by a traffic light at the end of the ramp. You round the ramp, stop, and then run 0-65 up the merge lane. It's doable in slower cars, but you have to absolutely thrash it in every gear. A little extra torque goes a long way.

          1. Kiefmo Avatar

            Ah, I found your problem: "California"
            Fix that, and many of your car limitations/woes will disappear!

          2. Andrew_theS2KBore Avatar

            Yes, but so will the sun, and, in many cases, the rocker panels, albeit more gradually.

          3. Kiefmo Avatar

            Sun only exists in CA, and rust happens absolutely everywhere that isn't CA.
            Got it 😉

          4. Andrew_theS2KBore Avatar

            sorry, hyperbole doesn't translate well to text. the original question regarded the performance parameters of a standard daily driver, and i provided an answer based on the realities of where i live (where i happen to like living and plan to stay). i realize that your remark suggesting i move was intended in jest, hence the less-than-serious nature of my response.

  6. onrails Avatar

    Enough to put a smile on your face. I DD'ed an '03 Mini Cooper S for 10 years and while the power was OK (but at 172 hp certainly not blistering) the chassis and manual trans were the important parts to me. Anything that is an able and eager partner to an on-ram or curvy road works for me. Outright speed is not what works on a commute, but please let me enjoy changing directions.
    I replaced the Mini with (at least when the snow and salt are off the roads) a Solstice GXP with a few factory suspension and engine cal upgrades and while it's certainly more capable than the Mini, it also needs just that extra bit of seriousness applied to it. It's still hugely rewarding to drive and I wouldn't go back if given the choice, but in retrospect it's not as carefree of a giggle machine that the Mini was to just throw around.

  7. OA5599 Avatar

    My family's daily drivers (including before I was around) have included a boat-tail Auburn, a Cimarron, a Tri-power Corvette, a Renault Dauphine, a 4×4, a van with a bed in the back and shag carpet on the walls, 2 Sy-Tys, 2 440-6 Packs, a landyacht Cadillac, and various in-between. Some were a lot slower or mushier, or heavier, or more underpowered than others. They were all still daily drivers.

  8. GTXcellent Avatar

    Great question this morning!
    Everyone's needs – and I mean EVERYONE – are completely different. For me currently, my only requirements are room for a car seat and a booster seat and a vehicle capable of traversing through unplowed, drifted roads and in a few months to come, mud. 10 years ago when I was childless and living in a suburban/urban environment – I simply needed a car with enough power to comfortably merge and drive with the traffic flow.

  9. Vavon Avatar

    For years I drove a 205 1.1i with 60hp. 102 mph. 0-62 in 13.7 sec.
    Not fast enough for dragraces, impressing people or risky overtaking…
    But always fast enough to merge safely on all roads and have a little fun.
    It all depends on the weigth of the car, and knowing how to use each gear!
    <img src="http://www.foeaf.com/Images/autos/actu-peugeot-205-01.jpg"&gt;

  10. Alff Avatar

    Not too picky, as long as I like the car and it can cruise along at 75 mph – I have a long freeway commute. I am more concerned about brakes and would swap out front drums for discs on any DD. 0-60 times and lbs/hp are not an issue. Steering and handling must be reasonable but there are very few canyons to carve in Kansas City.
    One thing I've learned, if your car is funky enough other drivers will give you a bit more leeway in merging and changing lanes. I've been driving a very original looking '50s Ford sedan for several months and have been pleasantly surprised by how much respect and room other motorists give me. It's a stark contrast to how they behave when I'm driving the modern pickup.

  11. racer139 Avatar

    I'd just like a seat and driving position that are compfy to be in for more than an hour at a time. The little pig (G5) has neither of these. I'm 6' even with a sorta short inseam. I wear work boots everyday and everyday I have to move the seat fore or aft because the wheel does not adjust to fit me, or even close. I get in the car move the seat forward until I feel smashed into the car just so I can drive without my arms straight out in front of me.

  12. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    The most important performance parameter for me is, quite frankly, how many (er, how few) dollars it extracts from my checking account every month.

  13. frankthecat Avatar

    My current DD is my 1993 Volvo 245 with its stock B230F and AW70 transmission, plus 216,000+miles.
    0-60: Yes.
    Fuel consumption: 22MPG (US) highway, 18MPG (US) city.
    Skidpad: Have you ever seen that video of the USS Harry S. Truman doing high speed turns? It's a lot like that.
    1/4 mile: Wouldn't even try, tbh.
    Stopping ability: Panic stopping is terrifying, and usually involves lots of tire squeal, nose dive, and the ABS freaking out.
    It will do 75mph comfortably (it just takes a while to get there,) it's stone cold reliable, plus I can carry an entire apartment-worth of stuff in the back. Oh, and it was basically free.
    But boy, I miss my SAAB.

  14. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    "Achieves Seventy" is pretty good, i think. but i've never commuted in a car that got to sixty in less than twelve or so, so maybe i take acceleration for granted.

  15. Surlymike Avatar

    5speed, AWD and snow tires because snow happens, wagon because kids and stuff happen, roof rack for gear. Don't care a whiff about power as long as I can hoon in the snow and have a nice sound system for the boring parts of the drive. Oh, and CHEAP and paid for help as well.

  16. JayP2112 Avatar

    The truck sits high to see surrounding traffic, moves pretty well for a 4 banger. Top speed limited to 93 but only hit that once.
    Most important – predented, gets 23+mpg, and I can repair from parts from Autozone and Walmart.
    What would make the truck event better would be an LSD or traction control for snow days.

  17. Devin Avatar

    My commute is largely urban streets, so 0-60 is much less important than 60-0.

  18. lesscubes Avatar

    Entirely dependent on your commute and your preferences.
    I live 10 minutes drive time from work, so I choose to live with 8ish 0-60, 16-18 1/4, 60-0 in two miles, skidpad NOPE and 13-15ish mpg.
    Base '71 Chevelle. Brakes would be nice though.

  19. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    0-30 mph < 4 seconds
    City economy > 25 mpg
    Highway economy > 33 mpg
    Transmission = manual
    Tires = round
    Brakes = yes
    Baby safety = very yes
    Everything else is negotiable.

  20. mdharrell Avatar

    The engine must start and run, at least four times out of five.
    Well, three times out of four.
    More or less.

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      How many days per week do you work, more or less?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        I have more than one car, more or less.

        1. Sjalabais Avatar

          The math appears to go up, more or less.

        2. Alan Cesar Avatar
          Alan Cesar

          As long as approximately one of them starts, you can still pretty much get to work.

          1. nanoop Avatar

            I'll abuse this thread as an on-ramp for one of my evergreen jokes: "How many people are working in your office? – About 30%".

  21. geistkoenig Avatar

    I'm going to amplify on some of the other leads here and stake my claims based on two different ideas: Functionally Adequate and Emotionally Adequate.
    The 240D was Functionally Adequate, if marginally. It moved. It would gather momentum ("accelerate" is a bit too strong) up to a reasonable and non-dangerous highway speed. It regularly returned over 30 mpg in mixed driving, which was okay. It would also get left behind in traffic by anyone else driving anything else, and its untimely demise was a mix of my misjudgement and its (ahem) non-sporting-inclined handling tendencies. Acceptable commuter, but not very inspiring.
    The Audi was Emotionally Adequate. It actually performed a reasonable facsimile of acceleration. It could move on a backroad. Gas mileage was more like 25-27ish; not great, but tolerable. It was also a wonderfully endearing machine, a trait that should not be overlooked in the modern market.
    Other cars that fit into Emotionally Adequate: Alfa GTV, BMW E9 and E30, Porsche 944, Acura Integras and VW Golfs. Stuff that's a bit better than minimum but also brings a bit of character to the party. Nothing blazingly fast, but stuff that won't let you down.

  22. jeepjeff Avatar

    My current DD is my Jeep, and I think it is my minimum. I am happy with it even having driven much faster vehicles.
    0-60: 10-11s: But this isn't a big parameter for me. I like faster 0-60 times, of course, but at this level of performance, how the vehicle gets to 0-60 is important. My wife's Civic Hybrid has almost exactly the same performance envelope as the Jeep. With the Civic, you mash the pedal to the floor, the fly-by-wire system takes a noticeable pause to note that you have asked for all the torque, and then the power rolls on gently. It runs up to around 6000rpm, and then gets held there by the CVT. The Jeep has a cable operated throttle body and a ton of low end torque. You push in the go pedal, and the 4.0 throws you into your seat before you can get it all the way to the floor. Between that and the joy of rowing the 5 speed, it feels faster and I feel more connected. So, 10s 0-60 is plenty, as long as the car is engaging.
    Top Speed: I have no use for triple digits on public roadways. So, I don't care. Give me too much final drive and forget about that number. Top speed is for ponces.
    1/4 mile time: Much better metric than top speed. If you cannot hit 200 in a 1/4 mile, then who cares that you can get there? At the same time, I'm pretty happy with my 17s 4×4. Having a 12s vehicle is on my bucket list, but that won't be the Jeep.
    MPG: I currently get ~15 city, and given the stuff above, it's also not an important one for me.
    Cornering: Yes. It should be able to turn.
    Brakes: Please. Disks are good, ABS depends on the vehicle (my Jeep does not have it, and it is better for it).
    Roof: No. Terrible idea.

    1. GTXcellent Avatar


      1. jeepjeff Avatar

        Just being silly and arrogant. That said, I am much more impressed by a car that does a 6s pass at over 200mph than a Veyron. And there are a handful of 6 and 7s cars that run in the unlimited class in Drag Week every year. They do those passes and get driven to each track. Which is a level of crazy well beyond buying a hypercar for millions of dollars.

        1. GTXcellent Avatar

          Ok, I had to go to the ol' urban dictionary for a definition. Being a rural, conservative, white male of an older (somewhat) demographic who lives a Mayberryesque existence, I've never heard the term 'ponce' before. Now I shall try to use my new found vernacular knowledge in daily conversation.
          <img src="http://www.hungovertees.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-o-matic/cache/b82628a89d_20070402-gijoeBig.jpg"width="300"&gt;

    2. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      I think the important part about a stickshift Jeep is the ~5-40 time. Low to midrange torque available without a double downshift is a particularly satisfying feeling. Kind of "big block lite" if you will.

  23. 7FIAT's Later Avatar
    7FIAT's Later

    I agree most people are different. My requirements are due to living in a rural area.
    Good headlights and driving lights because of deer and the occasional stray farm animal.
    Good braking for the above reason.
    0-60, not terribly important.
    50-80 extremely important to get around gray-hair driving malaise era GM products and farm equipment travelling well below the posted limit.
    Good handling because the upside of rural living is lots of empty two-lane.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Seems rural driving has the same requirements anywhere…bad lights and visibility are veto-issues. Almost slaughtered a group of reindeer once who were chilling on a road right behind a curvy hilltop. I was happy that the massive disks of early 70s Volvos do work like they look, and I always have good tires on any of my cars.

  24. Preludacris Avatar

    My acceptable performance parameters are always those of whatever car I currently own, plus what can be added to said vehicle with reasonably priced upgrades of course…
    <img src="http://makeameme.org/media/created/i-gotta-fever.jpg"&gt;

    1. geistkoenig Avatar

      Your Prelude is almost a benchmark answer to the question. Wish mine had been in shape to better live up to its reputation.
      What have you done to yours, anyway? The RPF1s look great, but what else?

      1. Preludacris Avatar

        I've focused mostly on handling and some cosmetic stuff. Adjustable coilovers, rear sway bar, replaced some worn out bushings, strut tower bars for rigidity. Stainless brake lines, bigger front brakes. Went through a couple different tires trying to find one I liked. If you're really interested I can link up my build thread but that covers the basics.


    A power to weight ratio of at least 18 lbs/hp or better. I'm not saying everything needs to be a tire frying monster, but it should be able to accelerate quickly in most situations. Some emergency situations really are better solved with power than brakes. Also, being slightly overpowered is basically always better than being underpowered, be it for the standpoint of fuel economy, drivetrain wear, or NVH. Although that's a very hard line to define. Also, enough handling capability to make a sudden lane change at 70 easily controllable. Enough brakes (and tire) to stop from 60 in 150 ft or less. Decent tires (which rules out all those useless LRR tires). Not much else. Your average person doesn't need any more than that, but it'd be nice if they had at least that much.

  26. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Odd, that as I try to think of a list of obvious needs/wants for a DD, my current one actually has none of them: nice seats, good stereo, AC, good brakes, good mileage, etc.
    Reflecting on that (I might just be an idiot), I think my real requirements are:
    -Good exhaust note
    -Aux in
    -Either reliable or cheap / easy to fix
    -Ability to give execute a "why the hell are you going so slow I don't have time for this!" pass in a way that soothes, rather than frustrates me.
    —I think that customer requirement translates to specs related to 20-50 and 50-80 times.

  27. Manic_King Avatar

    I'm in the middle of a process of choosing myself a co. car for the next 4 years, so I have to combine some rules employer has (4-door, CO2 less than 150 g/km, cost, list of brands) and my own criteria, most important of which is acceleration (9 sec. max). That damn CO2 restriction means that there's only few possible cars, only VAG has suitably powerful engines so Audi A3 Sedan, new VW Passat….

  28. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    Statistics are weird. I never go 0-60. Merging is usually from a 20 mph rolling start. My A4 1.8t seems to have exactly the right gear ratios for this, I can do 20 to 80 with one gearshift and it doesn't seem to take very long at all.
    But, with the turbo, cruising between 70 and 80 (para-legal speeds), you're in the no-boost zone. To overtake you need to shift down and wait for spool, then you can attack. At times like that I wish I was in the Rover, where I can just toe-down and muscle past… until I reach 85, then I wish I was in the Audi again.

    1. Kiefmo Avatar

      If I'm over 55, I'm in boost, so despite the modest numbers put up by the OM617 turbo, it picks up speed in the 55-75 region with respectable enthusiasm with no downshift.
      And what happens in the Rover? I'm assuming it's packing a Honda V6? I thought all Hondas woke up in the upper registers. At least, the one attached to my obese people hauler certainly does. Unlike many other larger 6es, it doesn't taper off near redline, but bonks into the fuel cutoff with enthusiasm. Other J35s have higher redlines and higher horsepower peaks, which makes me think that there's more available on top, Honda just decided to save it for the Acuras by artificially limiting the minivan engine.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        No Honda in myRover! Mine's the KV6 or K-Series V6, same power as the Honda but smaller lungs and a better noise. With the gearing being as it is the pick-up at 2800rpm or so is pretty good, and to be honest it stays pretty strong until you're running deeply illegal speeds.
        BUT: The Audi just takes off. On boost I really don't think the Rover could keep up. Nowhere near as smooth, though.

  29. Rover_1 Avatar

    We are all jaded by the performance available today. http://hooniverse.info/2015/01/30/mazda-releases-n
    If people whinge about the performance of a BRZ or the new MX5, I despair.
    Nowadays 20% better power to weight than a Porsche 944,( ergo 20% better performance ), is sneered at as inadequate.
    <img src="http://25.media.tumblr.com/228b4deed7ead8142d204801622050b7/tumblr_mnyfzezzs01r54u09o1_1280.jpg"width="550"&gt;

  30. ptschett Avatar

    I got along for a long time with ~20 lb/hp in daily drivers. (205 HP / 3800 lb '96 Ford Thunderbird; 230 HP / 4700 lb '05 Dodge Dakota; then finally I got my 376 HP / ~4040 lb Challenger.)
    The problem is the other drivers that have better power/weight ratios at their disposal but use their vehicles' power as a crutch for their ineptitude at maintaining momentum. So many times (especially when I'm in the Dakota) I end up behind someone on a cloverleaf on-ramp who should be running away from me, but instead they're poking along at, say, 2/10ths while I'm at 3/10ths and I'm wanting to be at 7/10ths, keeping me from maintaining the speed and momentum I need. Once they reach the bottom of the ramp they finally accelerate, too late to salvage my plans.
    Automatic vs. manual depends on the vehicle. Owning a motorcycle ruined manual-transmission cars for me; the real fun is the moment-by-moment, turn-by-turn balancing act of a motorcycle, rather than the transient joy of gearshifting through acceleration/deceleration events in a car that has 4 wheels and automatically stays upright (more or less, to use mdharrell's idiom). Manuals are still enjoyable to me in a vehicle with a numerically high lb/HP ratio like my dad's '93 and '95 Dakotas (3.9 V6/club cab/4×4), but above 300 HP's or lbf-ft's it depends on the individual merits of the transmissions. I've had some fun with my 2010 Challenger R/T and its Tremec 6060, but honestly I'm looking forward to the ZF 8HP70 in the 2015 R/T w/ Super Track Pack that will be replacing it [which should be on the assembly line at Brampton, if not waiting to be loaded up in a truck or a train car for shipping, as I write this.]

  31. Jonathan Avatar

    I would suggest my everyday driver does zero to sixty mph in four flat, tops out at 190 mph ( not personally tested past 150) .99 cornering lateral g.s and around 27 mpg on the highway works well for me.
    I find these performance parameters to be useful and enjoyable…..as an everyday driver.
    I actually dream of possibly a 650 hp c7 z06 as my next daily driver when my current ride needs to be replaced.
    Life is about the experiences and I enjoy driving spirited yet safely.
    One trip, one journey through life.
    Smoke em if you gottem.

  32. Joey Avatar

    Somthing big old powerful and very comfy makes you have trust in the car