Average Horsepower of a Car | (Small, Midsize, Large) 2023

A car’s engine makes a certain amount of power, which is turned into speed. If the engine is strong, the car can go faster. A horsepower is a unit of measurement that tells you how much power an engine has. About 750 watts are equal to one horsepower. 

Most cars today have more than one engine choice. Most of the time, the base engine is focused on getting good gas mileage, while larger, more expensive engines focus on power. You’ll hear many different things about horsepower, but in the end, you should buy the right car. Find out how much horsepower you need and how much will give you the most fun.

What’s the average horsepower for a car?

A typical car on the road today has between 180 and 200 horsepower. Over the past few years, that number has steadily increased as manufacturers find ways to get more power out of smaller engines.

This is a substantially lower number than what you’d find in a large car. The horsepower can change depending on how big or small the vehicle is.

Average horsepower of some car types:

  • Small cars: between 100-150 hp
  • Midsize car: around 200 hp
  • Large cars: around 300 hp

How much horsepower does your car need?

Before purchasing a car, many people investigate several aspects of the vehicle, one of which is horsepower. Read on to find out more about a vehicle’s horsepower.

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Below 100 HP

Usually, small subcompact cars like the Smart Fortwo have this much power. This horsepower level is not found in any new or recent Kia models. Most of the time, these cars don’t go on major highways, but they are suitable for getting around town.

Below 200 HP

Horsepower under 200 can be pretty good. This level is enough for drivers who don’t go out of their way to get a thrill on the road. Most small and sub-small family cars in this range are quieter at higher RPM, which can be important for passengers who want to sleep. The base model of the 2016 Soul has 130 hp. With a curb weight of just over 2,700 pounds, this model fits perfectly and is as quiet as a VIP limo inside.

Below 300 HP

Between 200 and 300 horsepower will give the average sedan much more power when you step on the gas. The 2016 Kia Cadenza is a high-end model that starts with close to 300 horsepower. As one of Kia’s most expensive cars, the Cadenza is made to have more power. For many drivers, the sweet spot is between 200 and 300 horsepower. Be careful with models with nearly 300 horsepower unless it’s a heavy truck or something else significant.

Above 300 HP

If you give any car 300 horsepower or more, you’ll know immediately if you like it. For example, the horsepower of the Kia K900 ranges from 315 to 420. Even though this is a full-size vehicle, it has enough power to make it feel much lighter and more agile. If you’re new to driving or haven’t gone very far outside of the horsepower range, you’re used to. It doesn’t hurt to try new things.

Myths about horsepower

When it comes to horsepower, most people have a lot of wrong ideas. The first mistaken idea is that horsepower is a way to measure speed. Another myth is that all fast engines have greater horsepower. Some people think that cars with high horsepower cost a lot or that cars with low horsepower are slow.

In reality, horsepower is only one part of the picture. To find out how quickly a car can drive in a straight line, you need to consider its horsepower and other factors.


The other part of the equation is torque. Torque is a science-based idea that tells you how much work your engine can do. Theoretically, power is measured in horsepower, but how much of that power reaches the road is measured in torque. If two cars have the same amount of horsepower, but one has more torque, it will move faster.


In a drag race, you can bet that a car with 180 horsepower can beat a car with the same horsepower but heavier weight. This is why SUVs and trucks have more horsepower than cars. More horsepower is needed for a heavier vehicle to reach the same speed and acceleration as a lighter one. To compare horsepower, you should look at how much each option weighs. This will give you a better idea of how they compare.

Car’s Tires and Weight Distribution

Turns will be faster if your tires grip the road better. A car with 1,000 horsepower and bald tires will make a lot of smoke, but it won’t go very far. This is why it’s essential to check how good your tires are. How well your car stays on the road and how fast you can turn, depends on the tread. With this, you want a good balance between your car’s front and rear. Putting too much weight on one side will slow you down on a track.

Too much horsepower can be dangerous

A car with too much horsepower can be dangerous for the driver. Driving at these speeds can kill you if you don’t know what you’re doing behind the wheel. Learning about these is essential to understand what could happen with too much horsepower.

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Lose control of speed

Those who lack practice operating engines of this magnitude may find it difficult to control the surge of power if the horsepower is increased. The higher the speed, the less control you have to steer. The less control you have, the harder it is to control the vehicle. Losing control of your vehicle increases the risk that you, or others around you, will be injured. Even if you have a lot of experience, be careful about how fast you go.

Don’t have enough time to stop

The more horsepower you have, the faster you can go through the air. Not just you lose control, but you can’t stop abruptly as well when you’re going fast. You can’t stop at the last minute when you’re flying at around 300 horsepower. Just like when you lose control, being unable to stop quickly can hurt you and the people around you. Make sure you have enough time to stop when you need to. If you don’t have time to stop, the engine’s power can crush your car without you having to do much. 

How to calculate horsepower?

To determine an engine’s horsepower, you multiply the torque by the RPM and divide by a constant. Both gasoline and diesel engines have different constants. The constant for gasoline engines is 5252.

Horsepower = Torque x RPM / Constant

Use the above formula to determine how much horsepower a vehicle has on average. You can also find out how powerful your car is by looking at the size of the engine and the number of cylinders it has. Either of these two ways can determine the average horsepower of any vehicle.


What Is a Good Amount of Horsepower for a Car?

If you’re looking for a car to drive every day, you don’t need a lot of horsepowers. 200 horsepower should be enough power for a car. Or, if you want to race or go off-roading with your car, you’ll need more horsepower. A car with 400 horsepower would be a good choice. It all depends on what you want and what you need.

What is a good HP for a car?

Many drivers find their ideal range to be between 200 and 300 horsepower. Be careful with models with nearly 300 horsepower unless it’s a heavy truck or something else significant.

What is the minimum HP of a supercar?

A supercar must have jaw-dropping specifications and technology, typically distilled to horsepower north of 500 and a blistering 0-60 times. Cars costing less than six digits are not eligible.

How much is HP good for a street car?

On public roads, automobiles with an output of about 400 horsepower hit the sweet spot in terms of providing practical and pleasant performance.

Bottom Line

As you just saw, the horsepower, torque, weight distribution, and tire grip of your car affect how fast it goes. Somewhere in the middle of the 200s is a good amount of horsepower for a small car. No matter how much horsepower your car has, drive safely. Powerful engines are fun, but they can quickly become dangerous. The average horsepower estimates a safe amount of horsepower for the casual driver. You don’t need much to move quickly from one place to another.

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