Home » Any 0-60 Time Under, Say, 7 Seconds Is Good Enough For Most Of Us: Prove Me Wrong

Any 0-60 Time Under, Say, 7 Seconds Is Good Enough For Most Of Us: Prove Me Wrong

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One of the best-known metrics when it comes to cars is the magical 0-60 time. And for good reason! It’s a really visceral sort of metric, something you can feel in your gut far more than how many miles per gallon or electric battery range or even top speed. It’s the amount of time it takes to transform an inert couple tons of metal and rubber just sitting there, immobile, into a couple of tons of metal and rubber that are devouring a mile every single minute. It’s exciting! You stomp that pedal, and get shoved back in your seat, and everything whips out of the back of your mind except that base, visceral joy of speed. I love it. I love cars that accelerate quickly! And yet, at the same time, I’m noticing something about the current automotive landscape. Pretty much everything is quick as hell now, so much so that cars that go from paperweight to cheetah in, say, four or three, or even two-point-something seconds aren’t even that uncommon anymore. As a result, I think we’re in a bit of a collective delusionary period, and maybe it’s time to take a hard look at things and remind ourselves of something important: Crazy low 0-60 times, while fun, just aren’t that important, and the vast majority of drivers – as we always seem to come back to when it comes to what our cars are really capable of – never really even graze the limits of what their cars can do.

I was thinking about this because of a tweet I saw last week:

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Now, I’m not sure of this person’s motives here, but 6.6 seconds from a dead stop to 60 mph isn’t slow. And, sure, the Prius Prime only needs 6.4 seconds to get to 60. But a 1974 Porsche 911 needed seven seconds flat to get from 0-60. And no one thought that car was slow. A Ferrari 308, like the one Magnum P.I. drove, that took 6.7 seconds to get to 60. And he managed to catch all those Hawaiian ne’er-do-wells, no problem.

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This guy says that Tesla “shouldn’t make a single vehicle that does 0-60 in over 5 sec” which, just for reference, is pretty damn close to what a Shelby Cobra would do back in the day (4.8 or so seconds), and people raced those things. Sure, 5 seconds to 60 is fun, no question, but the idea that a carmaker that makes mainstream, general-use cars that hardly anyone takes to the track needs to never make a vehicle that takes longer than 5 seconds to get to 60 is just, well, stupid.

Look, fun is fun! I get it! But here’s the thing: in the real world, on real streets, people don’t accelerate that fast! Unless there’s something really horrific happening right behind them, like if a pack of sasquatches caught on fire and ended up on a runaway hovercraft careening down the highway. Beyond that, people are – and I mean no offense to any people that may be reading this – are generally too chickenshit to really stomp that go pedal so hard they go from 0-60 in, like, 5 seconds. They just don’t!

People will hit the gas to get going and feel that burst of intoxicating speed, but the vast majority of drivers will very soon let up, because on public roads, they’re pretty good at not being idiots.

I know there’s an argument that you need to have a car that’s sufficiently quick so it can merge onto highways safely, and I think that set of cars comfortably contains, let’s see, oh yeah, every single car you can buy today. And, really, pretty much anything on the road that can hit highway speeds. I know this because I drive a car every day that is likely one of the most marginal ones, taking a hilarious 16 or so seconds to hit 60, thanks to those 52 moseying horses under the hood. That’s likely too slow for almost everybody, and I get that, but I also know that even that glacial pace is not unsafe for merging. I know because I do it all the time, just fine.

Though you know what? If I try to think objectively about getting 1600 pounds of mass to move at a mile-a-minute, a span of 16 seconds to make that happen really doesn’t seem like much at all. We take the power of cars for granted, I think.

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Really, anything that can get to 60 in about 10 seconds will probably be completely fine for most drivers. I went ahead and said seven seconds in the headline because, well, why not? You should have a little fun.

Maybe that guy in the tweet was joking? That’s certainly possible. But even so, it’s still an interesting thing to think about. In this era of all-torque-from-a-standstill electric motors, fast 0-60 times are no longer the exotic, barely-attainable things they once were. Race-car-adjacent 0-60 times aren’t rare any more, and as a result our perceptions have become skewed.

So, all I’m saying here is that while I get moving very quickly is an absolute blast, we all may be going off the rails here. Getting to 60 in six, seven, even eight seconds is plenty. And, remember, getting these 0-60 times isn’t easy! To get these times, carmakers and test drivers do multiple runs in ideal conditions, and sometimes those numbers are not exactly what you think, because they’re often measured with what’s known as rollout.

That means that the cars aren’t being tested for a true zero to 60 time; instead, the cars start moving and get to go about a foot before timing even starts. That’s not really 0-60 at all, is it? Here’s a video talking about this with someone who once shook our own David Tracy’s hand without even looking at him or acknowledging he was even there:

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Take away this rollout, um, advantage, and some cars that claim incredibly low 0-60 times can’t really do what they claim.

Point is, it’s all kind of bullshit, and chances are great that whatever you’re driving has a 0-60 time that’s just fine. If you want to drag race, then that’s a whole other thing! But, for everyone else? Seven or under is fine.

 

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AceRimmer
AceRimmer
8 months ago

I agree for the average person that anything under 7 sec. is absolutely acceptable. But for me? Nah. Not only because I like speed, BUT, safety. The safest car is one I can avoid an accident with. And driving fast cars the past 20 years has proven that. Never once has my speeding put me in an unsafe predicament, but for things like merging/passing/quickly avoiding morons? Absolutely.

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
8 months ago

Not much new to add, I started out with a 1098 cc Sprite, I think 0-60 was somewhere north of 15 seconds. Still it was adequate at the time and fun. Over the years I got incrementally faster cars (pretty easy to do from where I started). Everything you get that is faster feels fast at first, then after a while feels normal. Eventually gave up the incrementally faster game,agree that 0-60 in the 8 second range is more than adequate and 0-60 in 10 seconds is fine.

I did have an old four cylinder Ranger that was painfully slow, but it was an old truck used for truck things (trips to Menards) and I didn’t care.

I imagine a lot of drivers in 5 second 0-60 cars would scare the hell out themselves if the held the pedal to the floor for more than a few seconds.

Honus
Honus
8 months ago

I had Triumph GT6 when I was in college that was an absolutely beast, really fast. Top speed about 120 from that long legged six. 0-60 in about 11 seconds.

I drive a boring SUV
I drive a boring SUV
8 months ago

A 0-60 time under 7 or 8 seconds is more than enough, but what is really relevant for real world use is the 50 to 75 mph time, that is, how fast you can overtake, get out of the way or react to any situation on the road. Nobody checks out that number when comparing cars, it it has a much greater impact on the car’s performance and usability than 0-60 times.

Oldskool
Oldskool
8 months ago

For a city driver, it’s important for a vehicle to be able to keep up. But I don’t see any desire in a breakneck 0-60 time. Reminds me of an old Click and Clack bit, about how it’s so much more fun to wind out a car on the underpowered side, rather than have to drive an overpowered car like you’re walking on eggshells. The experience of running through the gears and getting up to speed is where the fun is. At least for people like me.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
8 months ago

I remember, when I was a teen in the 90s and just getting into cars, I was told 0-60 in 10 or better was totally fine. Probably the most fun car I’ve had was my 90 CRX Si. With an intake and exhaust it probably did 60 in the 8s. Didn’t matter. It was like a puppy that just kept wanting to play. Torque steer? Yup! Burn outs? Uh-huh! Stupid fast? Nope. Crazy fun? Yup!

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
8 months ago

I agree. I’m a LOT more concerned with 60-0 times/distances.

Captain Woof
Captain Woof
8 months ago

I still consider anything under 10 seconds fast. My current daily does 0-62 in about 14.5 seconds and it’s fine. Not a motorway monster though

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
8 months ago

There has been some really major escalation of what people are expecting from cars.

I remember maybe 10-15 years ago there was an article (from Car and Driver?) where they looked at the best cars for teens. They specifically excluded anything with a 0-60 under 8 seconds, because they reasoned it was an invitation for hooliganism. Now the bar has moved, and we complain about *anything* over 7 or 8 seconds.

My first car, a Volvo 240, had a 0-60 of about probably 18 seconds. It felt like it was on the slow side of normal. My wife’s first car, an old Corolla, was about 13 seconds. Neither of these were unusual. They got around just fine.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
8 months ago

I measure all cars by my previous $8,000 when new Dodge Neon(5-speed), 0-60 in 8.5 seconds. Coming from my 1984 Isuzu P’up diesel(58 oily horses!) I thought this was screaming fast! My current Chevy Bolt blows it away with 6.5 seconds now, but not having the manual makes it less fun for sure.

Beater_civic
Beater_civic
8 months ago

I think this is backwards… the average driver round here feels great absolutely mashing the gas out of a light but won’t take a single turn faster than ‘grandma with cataracts’. They want huge torque, huge brakes, and huge screens. To each their own I guess, I have no idea what my 0-60 even is but it’s likely crap. I still rarely get passed because my car is dead stable taking turns at speed…

Pappa P
Pappa P
8 months ago
Reply to  Beater_civic

I just had a vision.
Your civic will have an intimate meeting with a curb. Hope you get out of it alright and for Christ’s sake don’t carry any innocent passengers with you.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
8 months ago

I will not prove you wrong on this.

For a daily driver, a 10 second 0-60 time is fine. Hell, even a 12 second 0-60 time is adequate (which was the 0-60 time of a Ford Escort Wagon I once owned).

The only people it’s not adequate for are those who don’t know how to look further down the road (and plan accordingly) and/or know how to drive.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
8 months ago

If we are talking strictly about vehicles that could be viewed as average/daily/everday.

I completely agree with your assessment.

I’d even wager that anything sub 8-seconds 0-60 is as fast as anyone needs, and is fast enough that people shouldn’t complain.

86TVan
86TVan
8 months ago

My biggest concern is when these 5000 pound rocket-sleds are passed down to 16-year olds for their first car. Yes I know in wealthy neighborhoods, kids get bimmers and such…but EVs that are aiming to be the toyota tercels of yesteryear are still super heavy and way faster than their limited experience can handle. At least M3s from yesteryear had agility to match the 0-60 times.

Mike B
Mike B
8 months ago

Agree that the zero-sixty number is kind of arbitrary. The foot to the floor dash to 60 from a dead stop is not a common occurrence for most drivers, and most drivers are probably not flooring the accelerator either.

For me, how well it maintains the 60 (or 70) is more important. I often lament how my 5th gen 4Runner’s 4.0 V6 needs more power, and the Yota-bros always counter with “it’s not a sportscar, buy a Supra if you want to drag race”. (Ironically, these are the same crowd that loves crowing about how the 4R is one of the last “rugged, body-on-frame REAL 4×4’s, yet will typically post questions about how to eliminate body roll and brake dive to improve handling).

I don’t really care that the 4R is actually fairly quick to 60 considering, I don’t drive like that. What is annoying is that once you get to 60, maintaining that speed frequently consists of multiple downshifts at the sight of the smallest grade or headwind. Unfortunately, this is what you get with modern engines with torque peaks over 4K rpm.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
8 months ago
Reply to  Mike B

Maybe don’t buy the aerodynamic equivalent of a cinderblock?

Last edited 8 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Myk El
Myk El
8 months ago

The Mazda B2600i 4×4 I used primarily as a winter beater when I lived in Colorado was around 11 seconds 0-60 when new, by the time I got it, it was approaching 20 years old and didn’t have the same performance, but it was still more than adequate to get up to highway speeds on an entrance ramp. I had it at the same time as my 2003 Mini Cooper S which in PERFECT conditions could get to 60 in a little over 7 seconds, but closer to 8 in reality. That was sufficient to let me out-accelerate most folks at a stop light. I thought it was quick and fun.

But in a more direct comparison, the 2012 Honda Accord I drive now when new was tested at the same 6.6 second 0-60 time the Tesla here has. Folks have to have both a good car and really be trying to out accelerate me if I’m trying. Real world that Tesla would be more than enough. And I bet it would feel pretty damn fun, because my Honda does.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
8 months ago

I have spoken here often of my much loved 2019 Cadillac CT-6 twin-turbo 3.0 litre and how much pleasure it gives me. Official specs say it will do 0-60 in 5.0 sec. I have never measured it for myself but I can say that here in the hills of SE Kansas I do full throttle runs to 60+ on a regular basis just for the fun.

I gladly pay the price for top maintenance, best Micheliens and 91 octane for the priviledge. Some may disagree when I say do not take chances in my quest for speed but I honestly believe that I not endangered anyone other than myself, perhaps.

If I had another car with even greater speed potential, I have no doubt I would explore that vehicles limits. It’s in my nature, even at age 76!

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
8 months ago
Reply to  Opa Carriker

Tried to edit my comment above but instead will talk to myself. A couple of items I should have mentioned in my original post. The CT6 as owned by me is a compleate auto, meaning that it has the handling and more importantly the braking ability to handle the speeds it can generate. This is obviously no small thing.

Secondly, my hobby car is a 1932 Chevrolet Confederate. For this car, 0-60 is meaningless, as 60 mph is beyond its capability. It is a slow vehicle from another era and must be driven accordingly. This results in nice low key drives on those same meandering county roads in SE Kansas, taking pride in nice smooth 2 – 3 shifts both up and down timed to match the braking ability of the car. We go for afternoon drives listening to the thrum of all the mechanical bits working in harmony. Each trip compleated without incident is a triumph of man and machine. As the weather turns cooler the trips will continue albeit with ever heavier layers. The heater is adequate below 30 mph and the oily machine vapors blowing through every crack and crevice lends a warm old car vibe. Slow and easy “wins” the race!

VanGuy
VanGuy
8 months ago

I feel similarly. Went from a ’97 Econoline-150 conversion van with the 4.6l which did it in something like 10 seconds to a 2012 Prius v that also does it around 10 seconds. In Pennsylvania where I am, I seldom feel dangerously slow.

I’ve sometimes pulled off on the Turnpike or highways to take a nap on the side of the road, and yeah I wait for a gap before I try to get back on, but…it does it fine.

Some people will describe highways where 95 is the average speed and I don’t have a response to that but around here 7 is absolutely more than adequate.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
8 months ago

I drove a 1966 Thunderbird almost daily since 2017, and while I don’t like taking it on the highway for fuel economy/handling reasons, I’ve done it a few times.

It does 0-60 in 11 seconds under ideal conditions. And it’s fine. It uses the whole on-ramp, but it’s totally fine. You don’t need a fast car, fast enough is fast enough.

Wally_World_JB
Wally_World_JB
8 months ago

7 seconds is the number. I started reading Car & Driver in middle school, around the time the C4 came out. All the “hot” cars back then were 0-60 in 7 sec or so…Mustang GTs, Z28s, Nissan ZXs, Supras, 944s, etc. Supercars made it into the 5s and 6s.

I had a MKVII GTI that was fast enough to get me traffic tickets as I was approaching my 50th birthday. Faster = dumber in my case. Now I stick to the “drive a slow car fast” school of thought.

Maymar
Maymar
8 months ago

I had a Model 3 for a few days, a couple years ago – after the first bit of fun stomping on it just to see what it could do, I spent the rest of the time with it in Chill Mode, which apparently throttles it to 0-60 in about 7.5 seconds. So it seems even Tesla already knew that was more than quick enough to be perfectly adequate.

Elhigh
Elhigh
8 months ago

I have no idea what the 0-60 rate is on my geriatric pickup. I don’t care. It gets up to 60 before asshats start blowing their horns at me, it carries far more stuff than I can on my shoulders, and lets me sit down while doing it.

Good enough for me.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago

My 48 horsepower Honda has a sticker which reads “0-60 eventually” and I love it. It’s never a problem merging onto NYC highways (although I-95 at 70mph is daunting. I usually find a truck and stick to them, truckers are generally very good at protecting little guys on the road). Most people inch their way up to the very end of the onramp and then floor it and try to dive into the moving cars.

Elhigh
Elhigh
8 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

Heyo! I had a ’78 Civic with 63hp, with the Hondamatic’s torque converter helping it out it was actually kind of quick. You can get a lot done with a drivetrain that makes the best use of the engine’s output.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
8 months ago
Reply to  Elhigh

Thank goodness, mine is a stick – I have driven the same car with an automatic and it’s a bit sluggish.

Elhigh
Elhigh
8 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

Let me be clear: it was the Hondamatic. You don’t get a clutch pedal, but you still have to shift. L takes you to about 50mph and H takes you everywhere else. That was a fun little car and frankly a pretty adept little weapon for busy commutes.

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
8 months ago

You’re absolutely right, because in most real-world driving conditions there’s no particular need to get to 60 mph quickly– and you can’t anyway because the person in front of you isn’t flooring it to get to 60 in sub 7 seconds. The only time this is valuable is if you happen to be at a dead stop with nobody in front of you.

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