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Consumer Reports testing finds many small turbo engines underperforming; fuel economy, acceleration no better than in larger conventional powertrains
5 February 2013
Consumer Reports’ own fuel economy tests of vehicles equipped with small turbocharged engines has found in many cases that the turbocharged cars tested by CR have slower acceleration and no better fuel economy than the models with larger conventional engines, the organization said.
Consumer Reports tests many cars with small, turbocharged engines, and many competitors with traditional, naturally aspirated engines, large and small. Based on the EPA fuel-economy estimates, many of the charged engines look better. However, CR testers found those results don’t always map to real world driving and Consumer Reports’ own fuel economy tests.
As another example, in December, Consumer Reports road testing found the fuel economy on the 2013 Fusion Hybrid sedan and new C-Max Hybrid falling far short below Ford (and EPA) triple 47 mpg (5.0 l/100 km) figures—i.e., 47 mpg for city, highway and combined—for both vehicles. (Earlier post.)
While these engines may look better on paper with impressive EPA numbers, in reality they are often slower and less fuel efficient than larger four and six-cylinder engines.—Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports points to the collection of 2013 Ford Fusions with EcoBoost engines as the latest example of underperforming small turbocharged engines. 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, according to CR.
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, CR said.
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.
Volkswagens using that company’s 2.0-liter turbo also return what CR calls “impressive mileage”, though CR hasn’t tested any model variations with other engines that are directly comparable.
In contrast, BMW's turbocharged four-cylinder engines seem to deliver both good fuel economy and acceleration: The 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder contributes to 28 mpg overall in our last tested 328i sedan. It improved mileage only marginally in the 2013 X3 SUV compared to the six-cylinder 2011 X3 we tested, with essentially identical power and acceleration but somewhat comprised refinement. The 2.0-liter turbo four cylinder engine we've tested in Audis and Volkswagens usually return impressive mileage, though we haven't tested any identical model powered by two different engines for such a direct comparison.
|Consumer Reports testing results (turbos in bold)|
|Model||Engine||0-60 mph||EPA mpg||CR mpg|
|Ford Fusion||1.6L Turbo 4||8.9||28||25|
|Hyundai Sonata||2.4L Four||8.2||26||27|
|Kia Optima||2.4L Four||8.6||27||25|
|Toyota Camry||2.4L Four||8.4||28||27|
|Honda Accord||2.4L Four||7.7||30||30|
|Nissan Altima||2.4L Four||8.2||27||31|
|Ford Fusion||2.0L Turbo 4||7.4||26||22|
|Hyundai Sonata||2.0L Turbo 4||6.6||26||25|
|Kia Optima||2.0L Turbo 4||6.6||26||24|
|Toyota Camry||3.5L V6||6.4||25||26|
|Honda Accord||3.5L V6||6.3||25||26|
|Nissan Altima||3.5L V6||6.3||23||24|
|Chevrolet Cruze||1.4L Turbo 4||9.8||28||26|
|Chevrolet Cruze||1.8L Four||10.5||27||26|
|Dodge Dart||1.4L Turbo 4||8.6||31||29|
|Dodge Dart||2.0L Four||11.0||27||27|
|Ford Escape||1.6L Turbo 4||9.9||25||22|
|Honda CR-V||2.4L Four||9.2||25||23|
|Kia Sportage||2.4L Four||10.3||23||22|
|Toyota RAV4||2.5L Four (2012)||10.0||24||23|
|Ford Escape||2.0L Turbo 4||8.2||24||22|
|Kia Sportage||2.0L Turbo 4||7.1||22||21|
|Toyota RAV4||3.5L V6 (2012)||6.7||22||22|
|BMW X3||2.0L Turbo 4||7.3||24||23|
|BMW X3||3.0L Six||7.2||21||22|
|Ford F-150||3.5 V6 Turbo||7.7||17||15|
|Ford F-150||5.0L V8||7.8||16||15|
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