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Here's How Much Bigger Modern Cars Get With Each Redesign

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2017

Car enthusiasts are constantly talking about how modern cars tend to get bigger with each successive redesign. The traditional complaint from car enthusiasts seems to be that modern cars are larger, less enjoyable, and less connected to the road than their predecessors -- and that each redesign takes them further down that path.

But just how true is this? I've wondered just how much cars are growing -- so I've retrieved the length figures, over time, of seven popular modern cars. Now you can see exactly how much bigger they've gotten over the last few years or decades. Are these increasing lengths really "ruining" the character of these cars? That's for you to decide -- or maybe it's for me to rant about in a future column.

BMW 3 Series Sedan

1982-1991 (E30): 170.2 inches
1992-1998 (E36): 174.5 inches
1999-2005 (E46): 176.0 inches
2006-2011 (E90): 178.0 inches
2012-present (F30): 182.0 inches

Chevy Corvette

1963-1967 (C2): 179.3 inches
1968-1981 (C3): 182.1-185.3 inches
1983-1996 (C4): 176.5 inches
1997-2004 (C5): 179.7 inches
2005-2013 (C6): 174.6 inches
2014-present (C7): 176.9 inches

Dodge Grand Caravan

1984-1990: 190.5 inches
1991-1995: 192.8 inches
1996-2000: 199.6 inches
2001-2007: 200.5 inches
2008-2016: 202.5 inches
2017-present (Pacifica): 203.6 inches

Ford Explorer

1991-1994: 184.3 inches
1995-2001: 190.7 inches
2002-2005: 189.5 inches
2006-2010: 193.4 inches
2011-present: 197.1 inches

Honda Civic sedan

1984-1987: 164.0 inches
1988-1991: 166.5 inches
1992-1995: 173.0 inches
1996-2000: 175.1 inches
2001-2005: 175.4 inches
2006-2011: 177.0 inches
2012-2015: 178.1 inches
2016-present: 182.3 inches

Toyota Camry

1983-1986: 173.2 inches
1987-1991: 178.0 inches
1992-1996: 188.0 inches
1997-2001: 189.8 inches
2002-2006: 189.2 inches
2007-2011: 189.2 inches
2012-2017: 190.9 inches
2018-present: 191.3 inches

Volkswagen Jetta

1980-1984: 168.1 inches
1984-1992: 171.1 inches
1994-1998: 173.2 inches
1999-2005: 172.4 inches
2005.5-2011: 179.3 inches
2011-present: 182.8 inches

Of course, the automotive industry trend is largely "bigger, bigger, bigger" with each passing redesign. But there are a few noteworthy surprises. For instance, both the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta have a period where they don't really grow -- even though the most recent versions of both models have grown substantially. The Toyota Camry ballooned in 1992 -- but it hasn't changed much since then. And like a Hollywood celebrity desperate to keep getting starring roles later in life, the Corvette never seems to get any bigger with age.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Here's How Much Bigger Modern Cars Get With Each Redesign - Autotrader