Car Lust Classic: Car Respect--Geo Metro
I'm not actually going to write a Car Lust for a Geo Metro, simply because it doesn't generate lust for me. I have a lot of respect for the Metro, but as we can see in other walks of life, respect does not always equal lust. My respect for the Metro is a purely intellectual response; the only real emotion the Metro prompts in me is a slight tinge of ennui.
(Note that this isn't really true of the Metro's predecessor, the Chevy Sprint--its turbocharged variant will be appearing in this space someday as a bona fide Car Lust.)
Yet the Metro, in its own way, was as superlative as any Porsche, as extreme a performer in its sphere as any Ferrari. Its forte? Providing maximum fuel economy and usefulness for the minimum price. Within that context, the Metro was the ne plus ultra.
There has been a lot of conversation lately about alternative-fuel cars, hybrids, electric cars, hydrogen-fueled cars, Smart cars, and the like--all very cool developments, all interesting additions to the automotive world. Then fellow Amazon blogger Rich Sloan blogged about his friend's Smart fortwo--and subsequently got roasted in the comments for saying that his friend's fuel costs were $0 after 142 miles.
All of this really puts into context just how amazing the Geo Metro was--or, possibly, that we just haven't made much progress on fuel economy in the last decade. I like both the Smart and the Prius--there's something gadgety about them that appeals to me--but if your goal is just to have a useful gas-sipping car, it would be hard to do better than a Geo Metro.
|Geo Metro||Smart fortwo||Toyota Prius|
|EPA City (MPG)||46||33 (40)*||48|
|EPA Highway (MPG)||49||41 (45)*||45|
|Cargo Volume (cu. ft.)||29.1||12.0||14.4|
|Front Headroom (cu. ft.)||37.8||39.7||39.1|
|Front Legroom (cu. ft.)||42.4||41.2||41.9|
* The parenthetical fuel economy numbers are from 2007; the non-parenthetical fuel economy numbers are the 2008 numbers.
** The parenthetical horsepower for the Prius is the combination of the gasoline engine and the electric motor.
The Smart specs came from the Smart website, the Toyota specs came from the Toyota website, and the Metro specs came from this site. The 0-60 times are from a variety of sources, and the Metro price was based on the cheapest Metro I could find in my metro (ha!) area. There is one oddity in the numbers above--I think Toyota is dramatically underrating the Prius' cargo space, perhaps by only quoting it with the rear seats up. There's no way a Metro has more than twice the Prius' cargo volume.
Nevertheless, as a well-rounded urban warrior, the old Metro aquits itself pretty well against today's flashiest high-mileage stars. The Metro can do everything the Smart can do, but more quickly and more efficiently--if less stylishly. The Metro is smaller and slower than a Prius, but not by a lot--and it matches the Prius' mileague. Considering the fact that hybrids tend to under-perform their EPA rankings, the Metro may actually be more efficient.
Some--I'm looking at you here, Mochi Mochi--would argue that a Honda CRX HF was even more impressive, since it combined otherworldly fuel economy numbers with most of the driving fun of the rest of the CRX line, and they'd be right. Used CRX HFs are somewhat rare, though--my point with the Metro is that extraordinary fuel mileage is easy to find and doesn't require a fancy new car.
Thanks to Flickr user mikeg626 (based on his handle, possibly a Mazda fan?)--these are images of his old Metro.