The US gas guzzler tax! While I was distracted learning about CAFE

While I was distracted learning about CAFE and track width and wheel base and the minimum fuel economy required to not be fined based on those things this gas guzzler tax was going on for decades.!

Currently vehicle makers have to pay $1000 to $7700 per vehicle sold if it qualifies as a gas guzzler, and this tax has been going on since 1977. As you might have guessed, it only applies to cars and larger or taller vehicles are exempt.

No wonder they push the sales of trucks and vans and they got rid of the large traditional cars. It’s not just CAFE that is to blame.

Unadjusted MPG (combined) Tax
at least 22.5 No tax
at least 21.5, but less than 22.5 $1000
at least 20.5, but less than 21.5 $1300
at least 19.5, but less than 20.5 $1700
at least 18.5, but less than 19.5 $2100
at least 17.5, but less than 18.5 $2600
at least 16.5, but less than 17.5 $3000
at least 15.5, but less than 16.5 $3700
at least 14.5, but less than 15.5 $4500
at least 13.5, but less than 14.5 $5400
at least 12.5, but less than 13.5 $6400
less than 12.5 $7700

HUH? That doesn’t even pass the smell test. The reason US manufacturers are reducing (or eliminating) cars from their lineup is because they can’t compete and stay profitable. If Cafe or Fuel tax was the reason then ALL manufacturers would be cutting car sales - Not just the big three. They aren’t. Toyota, Nissan, VW, Hyundai (and a slew of others) still make and sells cars in the US.

Buyers switched to trucks and SUVs because they WANTED trucks and SUVS not because carmakers pushed them.

You cannot sell something to someone who doesn’t want it! Sellers of EVs are finding that out right now.

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I know someone with a 2014 RAM 1500. Based on the EPA combined fuel econonmy of 19 MPG, they would have had to pay $1700 in taxes to sell that vehicle if it applied to trucks!

A large car would have similar fuel economy.

If I use the formula on the wikipedia page using the city and highway EPA fuel economy of 16 and 23 it comes out to 21.80 MPG. I’m not sure what that formula is for or why the EPA combined fuel econonmy couldn’t be used.

2017 bought in 2020 an suv, 16 city 22 highway, never had a guzzler tax applied, I don’t get it.

The gas guzzler tax doesn’t apply to SUVs. It’s the seller of the car and not you that pays the tax anyway. This tax is what played a big role in eliminating the traditional big engine real wheel drive American car.

Given how much more easily a truck or SUV can roll over when pulling a trailer, it makes pulling trailers more dangerous than it could be. The 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis could tow 5000 pounds. Today regular midsize cars are usually limited to 2000 pounds, and many only 1000 pounds.

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A few years back, Ford discontinued their Taurus sedan, and GM killed their Caprice sedan. Among soon-to-be discontinued sedans that used to sell in fairly large numbers are the Nissan Maxima, Chrysler 300, and Dodge Charger. Even some sporty models (Chevy Camaro, Audi TT, & Dodge Challenger) will be as dead as the Dodo bird by next year.

Carmakers–just like other manufacturers–will sell whatever is attractive to consumers, and clearly, sedans are not attracting buyers in sufficient numbers nowadays.

Maybe they killed the Taurus???

In 2005 196,919 Taurus were sold.
In 2007 68,187 Taurus were sold.

What happened in those years? The station wagon version of the Taurus was discontinued!

Ford Taurus sales: 11 Ford Taurus Statistics You Should Know (Facts & Numbers) | Motor & Wheels

Taurus Wagon was discontinued in December 2004. Presumably wagon sales continued in 2005. Sales halted after a short 2006 model year and it became a fleet only vehicle in the US. In 2007 it was brought back as a Volvo clone with no wagon option.

2004 248,148
2005 196,919
2006 174,803
2007 68,178

BS!!! The Taurus wagon was a V6 FWD unibody vehicle with a very week transmission that would explode the planets and crack the case… Had NOTHING to do with pulling trailers and being safe!!!

And if you know HOW to load a trailer and what not, and you have the proper tires for it, it is much safer than a car…

I had a 1/2 ton Dodge Power Wagon (truck) with a modified V8 and beefed up transmission that sat on 32x11.50R15’s (100% stock brakes and suspension) and that thing handled the curves better than some hot rods, matter a fact, we had a full size upright Freezer and full size Fridge/freezer (that is 2 heavy items) going through the VERY curvy roads and hills and I took off in my hot rod to have some fun and when I looked in my mirror all I could see was the front grill of that truck my buddy was driving while riding my butt… Also hauled a car on a tow dolly one time, I was driving the truck and not paying attention to my speed and noticed my buddy was flashing his lights at me, I stopped and he said he buried his speedo past the 120 mark and I was pulling away from him… I felt like I was only doing about 80 MPH at the time, it was a 88 mile long road that nobody traveled at night on much…Point is, it handled GREAT, also pulled a heavy 24’ trailer with and never had a roll over or even close to one…

Yeah maybe a 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis could tow 5000 pounds, but not all day every day with out killing the rear tires and burning the transmission up… And you in big trouble when/if one of those air bags blows out… lol
No thanks, I will take my chances with a truck over a car any day of the week… And most of America agrees with me…


Manufactures stop making wagons because of the fuel economy penalty associated with the additional size and weight of the vehicle. CAFE standards have a great influence on product selections.

The Taurus segment was replaced by the Fusion. The Taurus grew into the Five Hundred, the Taurus name returned as the fifth generation Taurus (full size).

I may not be the most of America but agree with you 100 %.

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Dodge Charger sales have been steady during the last 15 years: ≈ 80,000 vehicles each year.

CAFE penalties and increasing fuel economy requirements killed the full-size car.

Fines boosted for automakers not meeting fuel economy rules - Autoblog

“For the 2019 to 2021 model years, the fine is $14, up from $5.50, for every 0.1 mpg [new vehicles] fall short of required fuel-economy standards, multiplied by the number of noncomplying vehicles sold. For the 2022 model year, this rises to $15.”

15 years ago, Obama promised to require manufactures to meet a 50 + mpg goal, this would eliminate all our favorite cars from the market.

Under President [Barack Obama], the higher penalties were set to start with the 2019 model year, but the Trump administration set the effective date as the 2022 model year following a court decision.
NHTSA estimated that for the 2019 model year, automakers would owe $294 million at the new rate, up from $115.4 million under the prior rate.

NHTSA added automakers that made plans for 2019 through 2021 “thinking that penalties would not increase did so at their own risk.”

Stellantis continued to manufacture the Charger/Challenger/300 for as long as was practical.

Next year the Toyota Camry will be available only as a hybrid, that was not a decision made to satisfy consumer demand.


Yes and No, my stock 2013 F150 4X4 handles better than most, butnot all cars built up through the ‘70s.
As for hot rods, you and I disagree on the term, to me something like a 32 Ford or a Bucket T with a built up power train is a hot rod, but they do not handle well with commonly used suspension such as drop front axle.

You consider your RR a hot rod😀 which is fine.
I happened to catch Jeff Dunham live streaming a drive in one of his cars, had a passenger reading real time responses to Jeff’s commentary. He referred to his Firebird as a “muscle car” I replied, “No, a Firebirdis a “Pony Car” with a large engine. To my surprise Jeff agreed with my comment.
Pony cars became muscular, but a muscle car was a standard, midsize, hardtop, coupe, or convertible with a large engine. Birth of the muscle car was the GTO, a standard ‘64 Lemans with a 389 dropped in, in place of the 326.
Others may say other high performance cars fall into the muscle car catagory such as ‘55 Chrysler 300,Golden Hawks, etc. But not me😀.
OTH, I would like a Road Runner, closest I had was a ‘72 Satellite Sebring Plus, but had a 318. My ‘62 Sport Fury with a 361 was muscular, but with those skinny 14 inch tires, no off the line traction.
But nothing like the performance and handling of my base level, turbo 4, Mustang.

Okay, rant over!


I’ll have to give you that, it is a muscle car…

But by definition a hot rod is “a motor vehicle that has been specially modified to give it extra power and speed”. Mine engine, transmission and rear-end are far from stock…

But also The National Street Rod Association defines a hot rod as an “automobile of 1948 or earlier that has undergone some modernization to the engine" …

Now in my defense, I can’t spell for crap and hot rod is just easier to type out than muscle car… So just know from this time forward when I type hot rod, it is really short hand for muscle car… :laughing:

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Also agree.

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Back in the late '60s when I was in high school, we had a small group of “car-guys” who specifically put those skinny tires on because they were driving “mini-muscle” cars. Those tires gave them ability to still spin the tires even with small engines… We also had a group of guys (with automatics) that loosened up the rear brakes so that they could power brake their cars to smoke the tires, and we also had the guys with the big engines that could easily smoke the tires, but they used a “line Lock” that locked the front brakes, then they would “drop the hammer” and let their cars sit there just spinning the tires, putting up a smoke screen at stop lights that keep the following cars stuck in the haze… all in hope that your antics would impress the girls.

Me, I respected my '54 Dodge Meadowbroke (with the “little” Red Ram Hemi) and I had barely an hour to get work at my full-time job at Fuller Brush as a machine mechanic (a wholly illegal job for a high school kid to be working 40-hours, 4:00 to mid-night). Besides, the smoke from my little beasty was not all that impressive… L o L . . .

The CAFE fine for 1 MPG is only $140. The sation wagon version of the Taurus sold for about $2000 more.

What I have heard from others is the auto industry makes a much higher profit on trucks than they do on cars. Station wagons were cutting in to the truck sales or SUVs.

Somebody put it nicely: With a station wagon you had the seating capacity of a minivan, the handling and fuel economy of a car, and the ability to haul things like a minivan. Now it is replaced with an SUV that has the handling and fuel econonmy of a truck, the seating capacity of a car, and a small storage area in the back not much more than the trunk of a car.

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Fuel Mileage of a truck - yes… But have you ever even looked inside a full size SUV???
Much less a Taurus Wagon?? The wagon could carry4 adults and 3 small kids but NO space for storage… or seat 5 with some storage room, I worked on them almost daily for years… NOT counting roof racks…

The difference in the Caravan and the Grand Caravan was storage space behind the 3rd row seat, Caravan had very little, GC had much more…And mini vans are still being made, but the mini van took the place of the wagon, not the SUV… The SUV has taken the place of the mini van…

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My generation grew up with station wagons. None of the mommies in my social circles would TOUCH a station wagon because their “suburban mommie” drove them. They chose minivans.

Step forward about 20 years. Those mommies in my social circle would not be seen dead in a minivan because they were for “soccer moms.” They chose SUVs

Jump another 20 years. Current mommies still prefer SUVS, although the smaller ones like Rav4s and CRVs.

The demand for station wagons is very, very limited. Ask Buick… who brought a Regal TourX station wagon to the US market in 2018 just to see dismal sales. It was discontinued in 2020.

Seems the US market does not want station wagons.


Even Santa Claus agrees with you!
This year, he is using his 1939 Studebaker Coupe Express pickup truck.