It doesn’t get much more classic than the Cessna 182 and especially the 172, which is the most successful aircraft in history if measured by its longevity and popularity.

These two airplanes are similar in several ways, though there are also some key differences. Without getting into their specs (which you can read all about below), simply put, the Cessna 182 is bigger, faster, and smoother than its predecessor with more avionics, larger fuel capacity, and more efficient weight requirements.

Cessna 182

Overview

  • Role: Light utility aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Cessna
  • Introduction: 1956
  • Produced: 1956–1985, 1996–2012, 2015–present
  • Number built: Over 23,237

Specifications

Specifications are for the Cessna 182T Skylane, which as of July 2015 is the only variant in production

General Specs

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 3 passengers
  • Length: 29 ft 0 in (8.84 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 4 in (2.84 m)
  • Wing area: 174 sq ft (16.2 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,970 lb (894 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 3,100 lb (1,406 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming IO-540-AB1A5 air-cooled flat-six, 230 hp (170 kW)
  • Propellers: 3-bladed constant speed

Performance Specs

  • Maximum speed: 150 kn (170 mph, 280 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 145 kn (167 mph, 269 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 49 kn (56 mph, 91 km/h)
  • Never exceed speed: 175 kn (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)

Variants

  • 182
  • 182A-T Skylane
  • R182 Skylane RG
  • T182
  • T182T Skylane
  • TR182 Turbo Skylane RG
  • T182JT-A Turbo Skylane JT-A
  • Robertson STOL 182

Note: In reference to 182A-T Skylane, this excludes any “I”, “O” models as neither were ever produced


Cessna 172

Overview

  • Role: Civil utility aircraft
  • Manufacturer: Cessna
  • First flight: June 12, 1955
  • Introduction: 1956
  • Produced: 1956–1986, 1996–present
  • Number built: 44,000+

Specifications

Specifications are for the 172R, which introduced many improvements over its predecessors.

General Specs

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 3 passengers
  • Length: 27 ft 2 in (8.28 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 1 in (11.00 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 4 in (2.84 m)
  • Wing area: 174 sq ft (16.2 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,970 lb (894 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,450 lb (1,111 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 56 US gallons (212 litres)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming IO-360-L2A four cylinder, horizontally opposed aircraft engine, 160 hp (120 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed metal, fixed pitch

Performance Specs

  • Cruise speed: 122 kn (140 mph, 226 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 47 kn (54 mph, 87 km/h) (power off, flaps down)[83]
  • Never exceed speed: 163 kn (188 mph, 302 km/h) (IAS)[8]
  • 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)
  • Wing loading: 14.1 lb/sq ft (68.6 kg/m2)

Variants

  • 172
  • 172 A-S
  • 172RG Cutlass
  • Reims FR172
  • R172K Hawk XP
  • Turbo Skyhawk JT-A
  • Electric-powered 172 (Non-Production)

Cessna 182 vs 172 Key Differences

Engine

The 182 has a much more powerful engine than the 172 (230HP vs 145-180HP). This, of course, not only makes the 182 the faster plane, but also means that it can climb approximately 200 feet per minute faster, and can lift more weight too.

Related: How Fast Do Planes Fly? (Takeoff, Cruising, Landing)

Range

The Cessna 182 may only have a usable fuel capacity that is 3 lbs greater than the 172 (56 gallons vs. 52 gallons), but it is the one that you want to be in the cockpit for longer journeys.

It has an almost 300 nautical miles greater range than the 172 (930 nmi vs 639 nmi), which makes it suitable for flights from New York to Florida for reference.

Interior

The main difference when it comes to the interior of both airplanes is that there is no control for a variable pitch propeller inside the 172. Only a throttle and a mixture for adjustment is found in the center console.

Is a Cessna 172 or 182 the Better First Plane?

Both the 172 and 182 make excellent first planes, but if you were to ask most pilots, they would agree that the 182 is the better choice.

As mentioned at the start, the 182 is bigger, faster, and smoother than its predecessor with more options for avionics, larger fuel capacity, and more efficient weight requirements.

How Much Does a Cessna 182 and Cessna 172 Cost Today?

While condition, refurbishment, variant etc. will all play a role in the price, generally speaking, it will cost less to buy a Cessna 172 over an 182. When checking listings online, it’s common to see a nearly $50,000 dollar price difference between the two planes.


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