The Krispy Kreme effect

This is one of several maladies affecting GM product planners, says Peter M. De Lorenzo:

Some of their key new entries are just too damn heavy, example No. 1 being the new Cadillac SRX, which weighs more than 4500 pounds. And that’s in a more compact overall package with no V-8.

Not that this problem is any way confined to GM:

Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and to a slightly lesser extent Porsche are all guilty of egregious weight gain, and it’s screwing everything up. It’s real simple, folks. The manufacturers are putting — and we’re far too accepting of them doing it too — too much stuff in our cars. All this techno-wonder crap is just that — crap.

Then again, much of that crap is something other than techno-wonder stuff. A 2000 Nissan Maxima weighed in at a semi-svelte 3186 lb; by the time it was glitzed up enough to wear an Infiniti badge, it was up to 3342. Seat heaters don’t weigh so much, and I figure the rear sunshade counts for four or five pounds max: most of the difference, I suspect, is the filler material they use for sound-deadening. The 2009 Maxima, however, comes in at 3557 lb. (All figures from ConsumerGuide Automotive for consistency; other sources quote slightly different numbers.)

And the Maxima isn’t exactly tiny, which makes De Lorenzo’s plaint even more apropos:

Let’s get this straight, 4,000 pounds is not okay or acceptable for an “average” vehicle. It’s flat-out unacceptable in my book. Weight is the enemy of all good things when it comes to actually enjoying driving, unless, of course, you stopped enjoying driving. In that case we just can’t help you. Too much weight negatively affects handling, responsiveness, “feel,” fuel economy, braking, performance, basically everything when it comes to the enjoyment of our vehicles. So don’t tell me that 4,000+ pounds is “acceptable” for an SRX or any other allegedly “more compact” crossover. Because it isn’t. Period.

I feel slightly better now about my low-grade vehicular lust for Infiniti’s EX35, which even with AWD gear presses down on the earth with a presumably-acceptable 3975 lb.


  1. McGehee »

    6 August 2009 · 7:16 am

    4,000 pounds for an “average” vehicle?

    My 6,000-pound Bronco just bugged out to weight-training class to bulk up. These “average” cars were starting to make it look scrawny.

  2. Baby M »

    6 August 2009 · 9:18 am

    How much does the airbag system weigh? ‘Way more than a good set of seatbelts, which is all you really need.

  3. Jeff Brokaw »

    6 August 2009 · 12:25 pm

    ABS, TCS, and other dubious gear add weight, cost, complexity, unreliability, and repair $$$ down the road. I could live just fine without any of it.

    But I learned to drive, like most of us here of a certain age, on low-tech RWD cars in snow and rain, that force you to adapt, or hit stuff. Big stuff. Heavy stuff. Stuff you don’t want to hit, really.

  4. Francis W. Porretto »

    6 August 2009 · 4:01 pm

    I have a 2006 Mercedes ML-500 SUV. Curb weight over 4800 lb. And I wouldn’t exchange it for anything, even if you threw in cash, two first-round draft picks, a player to be named later, and a weekend with Angelina Jolie.

    Weight is not an absolute determinant of anything. Mercy routinely gets 20 mpg on my morning commute, and has saved my life twice. Let him who dares try to take her from me. That includes that mulatto Communist in the White House.

    (I don’t expect any challengers. Word about how heavily armed I am has already been too widely spread. But I’d enjoy the exercise.)

  5. CGHill »

    6 August 2009 · 6:30 pm

    No way would I try to pry you out of that Benz. (Driver’s right to choose, and all that.)

    And marauding livestock compareth not with the maniacs on the Lawn Guyland Expressway, but my own Nasty Crash seems not to have killed me, despite the meager 2900-lb weight of the vehicle sacrificed. (Perhaps a little more infrastructure might have saved her, I concede.)

  6. CGHill »

    6 August 2009 · 6:45 pm

    And, just to help everyone’s eyes glaze over, an actual quote from Ford CFO Lewis Booth:

    We’re going to have fresh products. I don’t know — what’s the world’s best doughnut? [Ford’s vehicles] are going to be the Krispy Kremes of the world.


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