Is 400 Horsepower a Lot? Is it too Much?

Many drivers associate high levels of horsepower with great cars. Therefore, more horsepower must be better, right? This question sparks debate amongst car fanatics and seasoned drivers alike. 

Often, some of the first questions asked about a car with 400 horsepower are: Is the vehicle safe? What do you need to do with the vehicle that requires 400 horsepower? These general questions can help you determine if 400 horsepower is a lot more than you need.

Is 400 horsepower A Lot?

For an average driver, 400 horsepower is a lot to handle and frankly unnecessary. A daily driver’s ‘sweet spot’ would be 200-300 horsepower. If there is a need for more power, it’s wise to test drive the vehicle first. 

For larger vehicles and trucks, 300 horsepower is ideal and would be necessary to tow large objects such as campers or smaller motorhomes. On the other hand, a car that needs 400 horsepower, such as a Semi-tractor, requires that much power to tow trailers full of products. 

However, in terms of sports cars and luxury vehicles, 400 horsepower is nothing.

Also read: What’s a Good Horsepower for an SUV? The Facts

How Much Horsepower Does an Average Car Have?

When shopping for a new vehicle, it’s essential to understand what horsepower is and how it will affect your driving experience. The term horsepower was invented by James Watt, an engineer that lived from 1736 to 1819. It is equal to 33,000 foot-pounds per minute. You measure horsepower by hooking a dynamometer up to an engine.

Generally, the average car will have a rating between 180 and 200 horsepower. If you considered higher trim levels of said cars, SUVs, or luxury vehicles, they would approach 300 horsepower. 

Horsepower ratings can vary from model to model, and different global markets can change the horsepower variations. For instance, in the United States, the average horsepower for compact and mid-sized cars can range from 170 to 190 horsepower. 

  • Compact Car: 130 hp (4-cylinder)
  • Mid-sized Car: 170 hp (4-cylinder)
  • Full-sized Sedan: 200 hp (4-cylinder) or 280 hp (6-cylinder)
  • Crossover: 200 hp (4-cylinder)
  • Small SUV: 240 hp (4-cylinder)
  • Mid-sized SUV: 280 hp (6-cylinder)
  • Large SUV: 400 hp (8-cylinder)
  • Compact Truck: 200 hp (4-cylinder)
  • Full-sized Truck: 300 hp (6-cylinder)
  • Heavy-duty Truck: 400 hp (8-cylinder)
  • Minivan: 280 hp (6-cylinder)

Here are some popular models sold in the United States and their various horsepower ratings. 

  • Honda CR-V: 190 hp
  • Toyota Corolla: 139 hp
  • Nissan Sentra: 149 hp
  • Honda Civic: 180 hp
  • Nissan Rogue: 181 hp
  • Subaru Forester: 182 hp
  • Toyota Camry: 206 hp
  • Chevrolet Silverado: 355 horsepower

Is a Car With 400 Horsepower for Everyone?

The short answer is no. Most drivers won’t need vehicles with 400 horsepower as many compact cars and mid-sized sedans accomplish their goal.

  • 100-200 horsepower – vehicles with this much power include many popular models sold today. These cars offer the daily commuter a comfortable driving experience but enough ability to drive at the appropriate speeds on the highway. 

These vehicles also achieve some of the best fuel economies on the market and are perfect for drivers who are more concerned with their carbon footprint. This is where your typical Corollas, Sentras, and Civics hang out. 

Inexperienced drivers, like teenagers, need something to get them where they need to go without being more than they can handle. For instance, vehicles with 120-150 horsepower are most suitable.

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  • 200-300 horsepower – vehicles with this much power still include many popular models in the market. Most of your mid-sized and full-sized sedans will fall into this category. These vehicles are generally larger and have more power to handle most driving conditions in the environment. 

Many of your Camry’s, Accords, and Honda CR-Vs are part of this category, depending on the trim level. These vehicles could be for experienced drivers, commuting adults, contractors needing work vehicles, and families requiring larger vehicles with space.

  • 300-400+ horsepower – vehicles with this much power include your full-sized trucks, heavy-duty trucks, and beyond. This category of vehicle would consist of your Silverados, Sierras, and some sports cars. 

Most people who want to drive these cars would be people towing boats, trailers, or car enthusiasts who want to go fast on the roads.

Also read: Is Replacing a Car Radiator Hard? It Depends…

How Fast Can a Car with 400 Horsepower Go?

This question has a simple answer and a little more complex answer. Essentially, it depends on why you need the car. If you want to see how fast you can go, then that’s simple. With 400 horsepower, a car can reach an approximate speed of 249 mph. 

However, suppose you need to transport a load in your Semi. In that case, you’re going to be limited by the truck’s engineering, load capacity, and area driving regulations. Technically, most tractors are made to run consistently at speeds of no more than 75 mph while pulling a load. 

Although, some states like Texas have 75, 80, and 85 mph zones and didn’t consult tire distributors. Unfortunately, speeds like this are incredibly unsafe and should be avoided if possible. So, while 400 horsepower can push cars to intense speeds, sometimes you need the power for other applications. 

Also read: 10 Cars Under $20K that Look Like They’re for $50K+

What Are the Advantages of a Car with 400 Horsepower?

So far, I have discussed whether 400 horsepower is for everyone, what the average horsepower for standard vehicles is, but what are the advantages? 

  • For the most part, the more horsepower a vehicle has, the faster it can accelerate, thus improving the car’s overall performance.
  • Vehicles with higher horsepower ratings sell better and are best for keeping automakers competitive in the market. 
  • Usually, the more horsepower you have in a larger vehicle, the easier and more agile the car seems. In addition, more horsepower can improve the car’s fuel efficiency better than if the engine had a lower rating in mind. 

The horsepower rating of a vehicle isn’t the only factor that comes into play; most of the time, you must consider the torque capacity of the car as well. Torque simply measures the twisting force the engine has, and it also affects the car’s performance. 

The more torque a car has, the faster it can accelerate from a stopped position. Additionally, higher torque specs increase the towing power of a vehicle. 

What are the Disadvantages of a Car With 400 Horsepower?

While cars with higher ratings are desirable to many drivers, they have some disadvantages. I’ll touch on a few of those now. 

  • Having 400 horsepower can be exhilarating, but it can lose traction when misapplied throughout the car. 
  • Higher ratings are less forgiving to human error, and often the combination can cause severe accidents and injuries for inexperienced drivers.
  • Cars with higher ratings generally have more expensive parts that are prone to fail due to the power and vibrations. Modifications to the engine only exacerbate this issue. 
  • Higher ratings directly affect your insurance premiums. The more horsepower your vehicle has, the faster that you’re likely to drive. Essentially, cars with faster engines come with a higher risk of accidents. 

I’m not saying that luxury cars and muscle cars should be avoided; you’re just as likely to get into an accident with a Toyota Corolla. A quote comes to mind: “Speed has never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary, that’s what gets you.” Jeremy Clarkson couldn’t have been more right on this one. The most dangerous parts of driving cars with high horsepower are the human element and unfavorable driving conditions. 

What Types of Cars Should Have 400 Horsepower?

Your commuter cars shouldn’t need 400 horsepower, and drivers don’t need that kind of power to transport themselves to work. However, when considering what types of vehicles do need higher horsepower, the list changes. 

  • Full-sized pickup trucks – for towing and hauling things.
  • Sports Cars – for fast driving and enjoyment. 
  • Semi-tractors – for long-haul trucking and towing commodities. 

In reality, 400 horsepower is nothing compared to technologies’ current capabilities. For instance, one of the fastest Supercars in existence, the Bugatti Chiron, has over 1,500 horsepower and reaches 273 mph. 

This car is worth 3.9 million dollars and is now available for deliveries, but it’s a Supercar capable of reaching phenomenal speeds. No one will need this car for anything other than joyriding, and your commuting driver won’t have any use for it. 

What are the Best Cars with 400 Horsepower?

We will look at some of the most notable vehicles with a horsepower of around 400. Some are affordable for your average person, and some would be a purchase for a car enthusiast. 

  • Chevrolet Corvette – 495 horsepower – $59,995
  • Ford Mustang – 460 horsepower – $37,075
  • Tesla Model 3 Performance – 450 horsepower – $56,190
  • Toyota Camry – 302 horsepower – $25,295
  • GMC Sierra – 355 horsepower – $30,100


When considering your car needs, it’s essential to research thoroughly and decide if it meets your needs. If a commuting driver is looking for a fuel-efficient sedan that comfortably gets them from one destination to the next, then a vehicle with 400 horsepower isn’t what they need. 

Generally, the sweet spot for your average car is 200 to 300 horsepower. In this zone, cars are fuel-efficient, have enough power to drive on highways, and safety features that make them suitable for families. 

However, sports and luxury cars are safe and family-friendly, but most consumers don’t buy them for those reasons. The bottom line is, it’s up to every consumer to determine if they have the experience necessary to drive cars with 400 horsepower or if vehicles of that nature will meet their needs.

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