Guidance on Torque and Horsepower in small cars


I must down size my F150 and am looking at 4 cylinder cars. After researching and dealership visits I am down to two choices- the Ford Focus and Nissan Versa. Both have similar quality, curb weight, warranty and price. The Focus has a higher Torque at 136@4250 and Horsepower at 140@6000, while the Versa has Torque at 127@4800 and Horsepower at 122@5200. I really need to know if the Ford (which does cost slightly more) is a better Hwy travel or would there be very little difference since the engine are very similar. Any help on this would be appreciated, my husband passed away recently and I am not really sure who would give an unbaised but knowledgeable answer. Thanks…


I personally feel the new Focus is an awful car compared to others in its class, so I’d have to give the nod towards the Nissan, which by the way will hold its value much better. The differences between these cars in power is negligible, but I can tell you the Nissan engine will be smoother and probably edge out the Ford in fuel economy despite similar ratings. Driving dynamics should be better as well.


I would not worry about the torque and horsepower numbers, they are similar and both cars are capable of highway use. I would take both cars on lengthy test drives and decide for yourself. It’s difficult to evaluate a car during a 10 minute test drive.


Realistically, the specific torque and horsepower ratings are pretty irrelevant for a small car-- they are only a small consideration in how the car will actually drive. You can sit around doing power to weight ratio calculations all day, but the only way you’re going to figure out how each car feels like it drives to you is to actually go out and start test driving them.


Take each for a few hour test drive then decide. HP & torque mean something however it also is how the transmission puts the power down and the weight of the vehicle too.

If a dealer balks at an extended test drive move on and let them know. They will find a demo for the purpose especially normal demand vehicle like these.


I would personally choose the Ford Focus over the Nissan Versa but for no quantifiable reason. (Of cars in that class I make the Mazda3 a clear favorite, but that’s another story.)

Anyway, small differences of torque and horsepower have virtually no effect on highway travel. It’s low-speed acceleration where these numbers are felt. So if highway driving is your chief concern, you can just flip a coin as far as these two models are concerned. Even a test drive may not distinguish between the two. In other words, you won’t go wrong with either model.


Power aside, go with the Versa. It is head and shoulders above the Focus is quality, interior space, and I think perhaps fuel economy. The 10-20 unit difference in power will be largely unnoticed. Note, though, that the Versa (I think) has a CVT (Continually Variable Transmission) which makes for an unusual driving experience, as the transmission never actually shifts. It takes getting used to, but in any case, the Versa is a much better vehicle.


The Versa Hatchback has a CVT automatic, but the sedan has a standard 4 speed auto. If the original poster is looking for a hatchback I’d STRONGLY recommend looking at a Mazda 3 hatch, which is a wonderful car from a drivers point of view. If it makes the original poster feel better about it-Ford owns Mazda, since you seem to drift towards Ford products.


A lot of Ford and Mazda vehicle models are nearly identical except for the name badge and minor details.

Besides engine torque, there is also gear ratios, weight, etc. Don’t get spec sheet myopia when shopping for a vehicle.


Thanks for the information, I am going to test drive both this weekend…