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What Is Above-Average Horsepower for a Car, Truck, or SUV?

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How much horsepower should an engine produce to be considered “good”?

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Automakers love to tout the power ratings of their vehicles, but to the average car-buyer, those numbers are gibberish. How are you distinguish what’s actually above-average torque and horsepower and what’s not? Here’s a basic guide to help you identify what numbers are impressive and what are just mediocre.

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Understanding horsepower: Classifications and averages

A car’s engine power is measured in horsepower, and that amount of power depends on the size of the motor, its cylinders, and displacement.

Engines are much stronger today than they were decades ago, so as motors become more advanced in engineering, what used to be impressive may now be subpar. And what might be above-average horsepower for a four-cylinder engine might be weak for a larger V6 engine.

So, nailing down what’s actually considered “good” horsepower is very tricky, but we’ve done our best to give you estimates. Based on the class and engine, anything above these metrics could be deemed “above average” for a gasoline engine.

  • Compact car: 130 hp (four-cylinder)
  • Midsize car: 170 hp (four-cylinder)
  • Full-size sedan: 200 hp (four-cylinder) or 280 hp (six-cylinder)
  • Crossover: 200 hp (four-cylinder)
  • Small SUV: 240 hp (four-cylinder)
  • Midsize SUV: 280 (six-cylinder)
  • Large SUV: 400 (eight-cylinder)
  • Compact truck: 200 horsepower (four-cylinder)
  • Full-size truck: 300 horsepower (six-cylinder)
  • Heavy duty truck: 400 horsepower (eight-cylinder )
  • Minivan: 280 hp (six-cylinder)

Automakers are always evolving their engineering to squeeze more horsepower capability out of their motors. It wouldn’t be surprising to see different medians in the coming years, especially with the increasing prevalence of diesel engines and electric engines.

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