Consumer Reports Scrutinizes Small Turbo Engine Results

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PR Newswire - February 5, 2013

Small tur­bocharged engines, mar­keted as deliv­er­ing the power of a large engine with the fuel econ­omy of a smaller one, but Con­sumer Reports tests find they often fall short of expectations.

Find out which automaker mod­els are included in the report.

Con­sumer Reports tests many cars with small, tur­bocharged engines, and lots of com­peti­tors with tra­di­tional, nat­u­rally aspi­rated engines, big and small. Based on the EPA fuel-economy esti­mates, which are cal­cu­lated based on lab­o­ra­tory tests, some of these cars’ tur­bocharged engines look bet­ter. But CR’s engi­neers found those results don’t always trans­late to the real world dri­ving and in Con­sumer Reports’ own fuel econ­omy tests.

The lat­est exam­ple of under-performing small tur­bocharged engines is the col­lec­tion of 2013 Ford Fusions with Eco­Boost engines – small, tur­bocharged four-cylinders with direct injec­tion — which were recently tested by Con­sumer Reports. The smaller engine – a 1.6-liter pro­duc­ing 173 hp – is a $795 option over the basic con­ven­tional 2.5-liter Four on Fusion SE mod­els. But that car’s 0–60 mph accel­er­a­tion time trails com­pet­i­tive fam­ily sedans, and it deliv­ers just 25 mpg, plac­ing it among the worst of the crop of recently-redesigned fam­ily sedans.

The most direct com­par­i­son among the vehi­cles Con­sumer Reports has tested is the Chevro­let Cruze. CR tested both a Cruze with the base 1.8-liter con­ven­tional four-cylinder, and one with the smaller 1.4-liter tur­bocharged Four. While the 1.4-liter feels mar­gin­ally more pow­er­ful in daily dri­ving, it was barely faster to 60 mph, and got the same fuel econ­omy as the larger engine.

The Hyundai Sonata Turbo, Kia Sportage Turbo, and Ford Escape 2.0T are exam­ples of cars with tur­bocharged four-cylinder engines that are less fuel effi­cient than V6 mod­els in the same class, Con­sumer Reports found.

Con­sumer Reports has also found some tur­bocharged four-cylinder mod­els that do deliver good fuel econ­omy and accel­er­a­tion: BMW’s new 2.0-liter tur­bocharged four gets 28 mpg in the new 328i Sedan and deliv­ered improved mileage in the 2012 X3 SUV by one mpg, with essen­tially iden­ti­cal power and acceleration.

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