16 Car Specs You NEED to Know – CNET

Ever heard the expression: “Figures don’t lie…and liars don’t figure”.  It’s easy to feel confused or overwhelmed by statistics…especially when it comes to vehicles. Here’s 16 critical car specs explained in simple terms for max comprehension.


Some car specs make total sense…and some you can just largely ignore

Let’s jump right in:

  1. Zero to Sixty – zero to sixty is the holy grail of performance benchmarks it is obviously how fast a car can go from a standing stop to 60 miles an hour. the quickest it can do that either with a really good driver on a manual transmission or relying on its automatic transmission. The thing about 0-60 is you never do that (yourself)! How often in real life do you go from a standing stop to 60? Nonetheless it’s a good benchmark because it encompasses a lot of acceleration phases of a car. You see cars don’t accelerate as quickly through all ranges of speed. They may be quicker 15 to 23, then slow down a little bit 24 to 46 and then speed up again 46 to 60. It’s kind of a wavy curve. 0-60 captures all that in totality and gives you kind of one big lump number
  2. Horsepower – good grief they spent a lot of time screaming about this in car advertisements and specs don’t they? Horsepower has this arcane definition from way back in the day it’s the power you need to lift 550 pounds one foot off the ground in one second. There’s a time factor there because it expresses work. Horsepower is an even more peripheral number than 0 to 60 time you care about things like acceleration, feel, fuel economy, towing capacity…those things are all related to horsepower but they’re not expressed literally by the number.