Car Sluggish? Maybe It's Your Weight

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In an eye-opening piece, USA Today reports that the average American is too heavy to fit in his own car — at least with passengers. The average weight for men in 2004 was 190 pounds — we’re guessing that’s a number that has not regressed in the past two years — while most cars can barely tackle a load of 200-pound passengers, according to their maximum load capacity, printed on a decal inside the front door of most vehicles.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata, Chevrolet Corvette and Honda S2000 sports cars don’t rate higher than 400 pounds maximum. Not only does that include passenger weight, but also any cargo, like luggage. Even more surprising are numbers for large vehicles like the Dodge Magnum and Mazda CX-7, which come in nearly identical to much smaller ones like the Honda Civic and Scion xB at around 850 pounds.

The ratings stem from a government formula that isn’t divulged, but one automaker tries to avert fears by saying there are unpublished safety margins built in. Regardless, you should know what your vehicle’s weight limit is and drive the vehicle accordingly, including monitoring the tire pressure for different-sized loads. We’d like to see more realistic numbers put in place, otherwise it seems like the automakers are just covering their own — hopefully not too heavy — backsides with these low ratings. 

When researching a car, you can find this weight limit in the specification section either on manufacturer websites or on

Car Weight Limits Are a Big, Fat Problem (USA Today)

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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