Cessna 172 vs Cessna 182 – The Ultimate Buyers Guide

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Cessna 172 vs Cessna 182 – The Ultimate Buyers Guide

Cessna 172 vs Cessna 182

Just got your pilot’s license, are you in the market to purchase a Cessna but still trying to decide between a Cessna 172 and a Cessna 182?

We have created the ultimate guide to understanding the differences between the two.

Doesn’t matter if this is your first aircraft or your 7th. We try to put the facts down so that you will understand which aircraft is best for your needs.

Cessna 172 “Skyhawk”

The Cessna 172 is considered by many as the most successful aircraft in history. Developed by Cessna, the aircraft took its maiden flight on June 12th, 1955. It is one of the most popular training platforms in the world. Many aviators started with the 172 which is probably why you are looking to explore or purchase. The company and partners have built more than 50,000 units and it still remains in production today.

The Cessna 172 comes in a variety of models from A-S and including a few military variants. The Cessna has a meaty history with a great reliability record. You can often find one very cheap as they are well maintained. This is often a direct result of so many parts being available for the aircraft as they are produced in mass quantities. 

Often you may here to it referred to as the Skyhawk, Or Cessna 172 Skyhawk as made by its platform.

Cessna Skyhawk

General Specifications (Cessna 172)

Source

First, we must preface that these specifications are not unique to all variants or models of the Cessna 172. These are just standard specs from the Aircraft POH.

Dimensions

If you are looking to purchase the Cessna 172 or rent you should be glad to know that it is one of the most capable 4-seater aircraft available on the market. The Cessna 172 seats 4, three passengers, and at minimum one crew. 27ft in (8.28 m) length, with a wingspan of about 36 ft (11.00 m), this makes for a pretty sizeable footprint. The aircraft has a height of 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m), which can really be felt when refueling. However, the aircraft has feet holds on each strut enabling easy access to the top wing-mounted fuel tanks.

Specification Value
Length
27 ft 2 in (8.28 m)
Wingspan
36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
Height
8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)
Empty weight
1,691 lb (767 kg)
Gross weight
2,450 lb (1,111 kg)
Useful Load
1,040 LBS
Fuel capacity
56 US gallons (212 litres)

Interior (Cessna 172)

The interior of the Cessna 172 is fairly standard. Most models can be fitted with a G1000 dual-screen system. However, there are many others that still sport a steam gauge configuration. The main difference between the 172 and the 182 is that you do not have a control for a variable pitch propeller. In the center console, you will see that there is only a throttle and a mixture for adjustment. Other than that, the two are nearly similar in size and shape. The Cessna 172 is the smaller one of the two.

Profile

As far as its profile the Cessna 172 has a gross weight of 2,450 lb (1,111 kg) with an empty weight of 1,691 lb. (767 kg). Last but not least the Cessna 172 features a 56-gallon fuel tank which normally has around 50 usable gallons. This is incredibly impressive for its form factor. At around 75% power or around cruise, the aircraft burns at a rate of 8.5 gallons per hour. That’s nearly 6 hours of flight time for you and your family. This can also be extended with various auxiliary fuel tank options available in the Cessna line. Like most Cessna in its class the 172 generally features a Lycoming engine, four cylinder, horizontally opposed aircraft engine.

Performance

As far as the performance, the Cessna 172 does impress. With a cruise speed of 125 kts the aircraft does a great job of getting you where you need efficiently. According to Cessna, the aircraft has a range of 696 nm. (801 mi, 1,289 km) with 45-minute reserve, 55% power, at 12,000 ft. Incredibly, the aircraft has a service ceiling of 13,500 ft which is the upper limits of class E airspace.

Specification Value
Cruise speed
125 KTS
Never exceed speed
163 KTS (188 mph, 302 km/h) (IAS)
Range
696 nmi (801 mi, 1,289 km) with 45 minute reserve, 55% power, at 12,000 ft
Service ceiling
13,500 ft (4,100 m)
Rate of climb
721 ft/min (3.66 m/s)

Cessna 182 “Skylane”

Featuring the same platform, the Cessna 182 is the ultimate 4-seater aircraft. The Cessna 182 was introduced in 1956 and stands as the second most popular platform in the world following the Cessna 172. The construct is mostly of metal and aluminum alloys allowing the aircraft to keep its durability and rigidity. The most attractive quality of the 182 is its upgrades in terms of usability and features. As you read you will find the aircraft can be fitted with more avionics, larger fuel capacity, and more efficient weight requirements.

Just like the 172 the 182 has nearly 25 variants all ranging from military to complex (with retractable gears). And that’s one of the most appealing things about the 182, increased variety and the same platform as the 172 offerings a plethora of parts and reliability. The newer variants have landing gear retraction, increased fuel economies, with reduced maintenance costs. The 182 is commonly monikered as the Skylane.

General Specifications (Cessna 182)

Source

These specifications are not unique to all variants or models of the Cessna 182. These are just standard specs from the Aircraft POH, Cessna, and AOPA. Most if not all specs listed below are in reference to the Cessna 182T model (latest).

Dimensions

The Cessna 182 is based on the 172 however the most attractive appeal is that it comes in a much larger size variant. The 182 comes in with a length of 29 ft (8.84 m) and a height of 9 ft 4 in (2.84 m). The wingspan is 36 ft (10.97 m) which is the same as the Cessna 172. Just like the Cessna 172 the 182 has roof-mounted fuel tanks. On each strut, there are foot mounts for easy access enabling pilots to refuel with ease.

Specification Value
Length
29 ft 0 in (8.84 m
Wingspan
36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
Height
9 ft 4 in (2.84 m)
Empty weight
1,970 lb (894 kg)
Gross weight
3,100 lb (1,406 kg)
Useful load
1,186 LBS
Fuel capacity
92 US gallons

Interior (Cessna 182)

The interior of the 182 nearly identical, almost indistinguishable. The cabin of the 182 is slightly larger than the 172 however their panel setups can be identical if necessary. The main difference on the console is the added variable propeller shift. Other than that, the 182 often sports a G1000 set up in most that are on the market. However, there are a few with traditional steam gauges if that is what you are more interested in.

Profile

In terms of a profile, the 182 has an empty weight of 1,970 lb (894 kg) and a gross weight of 3,100 lb (1,406 kg). Unlike the two-blade propeller of the Cessna 172, one defining characteristic of the 182 is that most models add an additional propeller blade. These propellers are generally powered by a Lycoming four-cylinder, horizontally opposed aircraft engine, similar to most Cessna in this category.

The newer Cessna 182T Skylane features a 92-gallon tank, nearly 20 more gallons than the original 182 and a 40-gallon increase over the Cessna 172. However, the tradeoff is this generally means the fuel consumption takes an increase, the 182 takes at 14 gallons per hour versus the 8 gallons per hour in the Cessna 172.

Performance

The 182 is truly the best in its class, the performance is what draws many to purchase. The Cessna 182 has a cruise speed of 145 kts which is a 20 kts increase over its predecessor, offering a more efficient ride. This new cruise speed, in combination with its increased fuel capacity, gives you an excellent range of 930 nm. For reference, 930 nm is about a third of the United States. The service ceiling of the 182 is 18,100 ft (5,500 m), and with new modifications, many equip the aircraft with oxygen systems for such a trip.

Specification Value
Cruise speed
145 KTS (167 mph, 269 km/h)
Never exceed speed
175 KTS (201 mph, 324 km/h)
Range
930 nmi (1,070 mi, 1,720 km)
Service ceiling
18,100 ft (5,500 m)
Rate of climb
924 ft/min (4.69 m/s)

The Comparison (Cessna 172 vs. Cessna 182)

Below we have listed 4 models, 2 models for each aircraft. This should give you a scope of what the original model was equipped with, but with also the added capabilities of the latest model.

Specification Cessna 172 Cessna 172SP Cessna 182 Cessna 182T
Cruise speed
125 KTS
125 KTS
139 KTS
136 KTS
Empty Weight
1,454 lbs
1,642 lbs
1,610 lbs
1,970 lbs
Gross Weight
2,200 lbs
2,450 lbs
2,800 lbs
3,100 lbs (1,406 kg)
Useful Load
1,040 lbs
958 lbs
56 Gal
Useful Load
Usable Fuel Capacity
53 US Gallons
53 US Gallons
56 US Gallons
92 US Gallons
Cruise speed
124 KTS
124 KTS
145 KTS (167 mph, 269 km/h)
145 KTS (167 mph, 269 km/h)
Never exceed speed
158 KTS
175 KTS (201 mph, 324 km/h)
175 KTS (201 mph, 324 km/h)
175 KTS (201 mph, 324 km/h
Range
639 nm
885 nm
930 nmi (1,070 mi, 1,720 km)
930 nmi (1,070 mi, 1,720 km)
Service ceiling
13,500 ft
14,000 ft
18,100 ft (5,500 m)
18,100 ft (5,500 m)
Rate of climb
721 ft/min (3.66 m/s)
721 ft/min (3.66 m/s)
924 ft/min (4.69 m/s)
924 ft/min (4.69 m/s)

Disclaimer: Information on this site may not be accurate or current and is not valid for flight planning or any other aircraft operations. No warranty of fitness for any purpose is made or implied. Flight planning or any other aircraft operations should only be done using official technical information provided by the manufacture or FAA.

The Better Buy

Now there are many considerations when purchasing an aircraft in general, but when comparing between these two, these considerations can be narrowed down.  

What Would Your Common Destinations Or Routes Be?

One of the most important questions you can ask is where do I plan to go. If you are looking to travel long cross-country trips that span more than 600 nm, the Cessna 182 would be your better bet. But if you only see yourself traveling distances of under 600 nm then the Cessna 172 would be a better buy. For context, The Cessna 182 has a range of about 930 nm, this is roughly the distance between New York and Florida. In contrast, the Cessna 172 may have to take a fuel stop which depending on your needs could be a lot of wasted time.

In terms of landing characteristics, the two aircraft are very similar, with their landing and take-off lengths only being (at most) a 50 ft-100 ft difference. Even though this may seem small this can be the difference of landing or a detour. 

Specification Cessna 172 Cessna 182T
Standard Take Off Distance
1,630 ft
1,514 ft
Standard Landing Distance
1,280 ft
1,350 ft

This means both are fairly versatile in landing at similar destinations.

However, 50-100ft is a large difference when it comes to the runway!

Are There Budget Parameters For Your Purchase?

One of the most universal questions to ask is what are your budget parameters. This can be a huge determining factor when choosing between the Cessna 182 and the Cessna 172. It’s important to understand the extensive financing opportunities or leasing arrangements available to us as pilots.

Generally speaking, you will find the Cessna 182 will outprice the Cessna 172. This is mostly due to the performance increases. An aircraft that can fly higher and faster, but can also increase its utility, has a better value. However, this does not mean anything negative for the 172, as the price to performance ratio is often better than the 182.

Often, we see nearly a $50,000 dollar price difference to the 182/172 category on our site. This is a massive price difference for the performance and one you may have to consider. Is a smoother ride, faster cruise speed, and increased utility worth the cost of $50,000, this is a question you may have to ask yourself in the purchase decision.

AOPA offers an amazing aircraft loan calculator that should give you an idea of where you stand.

Check it out here https://finance.aopa.org/loan-calculator

Here are a couple 172/182 offerings on the market to give you a gauge for price.

Complexity

Many variants of the 182 offer retractable gears or a variable pitch propeller. This is something to factor in to your purchase as the added complexity can increase maintenance and insurance costs. Many aviators know that an aircraft that has a retractable gear operation with often cost more with insurance than one without. These additions often equate to a smoother ride and increased performance, but come with the downside of an increased overall cost. It is worth mentioning that not all models of the 182 offer a retractable gear so choosing one that doesn’t may help in the long run.

Cabin Size

If you are looking to buy an aircraft you are probably planning to fly longer trips. This is why it is important to get an aircraft that is comfortable for all your needs. We often find people appreciate the 182 over the 172 due to its increased interior space. Not by much, however, it makes a huge increase in how comfortable the aircraft is for longer periods of time. We suggest sitting in both to understand how it feels based on your size and weight.

Avionics

Even though this is a variable topic, it is still worth mentioning. Often times you will find both the 172 and the 182 fitted with similar cockpit avionics. However, we find there are more 182s on the market with newer technological advancements such as the G1000 outfit. The Cessna 172 can often be found with the more traditional steam gauge cockpit. Depending on your price parameters and comfort level, an equivalent 172 with a steam gauge cockpit may run you much cheaper with initial costs and maintenance cost versus a 182 with the same. This may be a consideration depending on your comfort level with newer avionics.

How Many Passengers Are You Looking To Accommodate?

Now it’s common knowledge within the aviation community that even though a Cessna 172 sports 4 seats, often it’s not the best choice to fly with 4 full-sized adults. Depending on the aircraft configuration, it’s important to note that the Cessna 172 may not support a full tank and 3 additional passengers. Even though the 182 does not drastically differ, it still offers a better utility and increased weight and balance parameters. This often makes it possible to carry 4 adults as passengers with the 182 platform versus the 172.

Other Considerations

Buying an aircraft can be one of the most enjoyable endeavors of a pilot’s career. So, it is imperative that you ask the right questions to figure out what’s best for you. Make sure you understand the full range of costs and considerations before making your purchase. We have created a guide for buying an aircraft and other considerations you should consider.

Check it out here: Buying Your First Aircraft, Questions to Ask Yourself

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, it really depends on your preference of efficiency. Both the 172 and the 182 are very similar in style however differ drastically when it comes to performance. The 182 is faster than the 172, offering more complexity and increased weight and balance specs. 

The 182 is simply a faster, smoother, and more efficient beast than the 172 so when it comes down to it, the question is your budget and how much you are willing to spend.

Even though this puts the 182 in a positive light, it’s important to understand the 172 is still the go-to platform, offering very similar performance for a much cheaper price. We know you cannot go wrong with either one, as aircraft ownership is a rewarding experience for all. We hope we have shed some light on the differences between the two platforms to help you make a better purchase decision.

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