As engines continue to downsize and become smaller, though that trend may have reached a peak, we are seeing forced induction take the place of displacement as a way to deliver similar gusto with greater fuel economy.
Pick one of many long-time General Motors vehicles and you will likely notice it offers a turbocharged four-cylinder engine these days, likely replacing a V6 engine. But, sometimes, turbos don’t always fulfill their job to the fullest.
The Detroit News spoke with David Amodeo, a senior manager at J.D. Power, regarding the trend of turbocharging, and consumers aren’t always thrilled with the ownership experience.
Specifically, in regards to fuel economy, drivers aren’t seeing the lofty numbers promised by the window sticker.
“The caveat is that on the EPA’s test cycle, these engines look fantastic from a fuel efficiency standpoint for the window stickers, but some consumers are saying, my fuel economy is horrible, because they have to sink their foot into it more because the engine has to work harder to generate that power,” Amodeo said.
But, Amodeo doesn’t see the trend fading anytime soon.
“You can get the same horsepower, and you can get really good driving characteristics out of a much smaller engine. This is going to become more and more commonplace, and I don’t expect that growth to slow down. We’re going to see turbos in all sorts of applications.”
In last year’s J.D. Power dependability study, which combs through data from 2013 model year vehicles over a three-year period, turbos had nearly 30 percent more complaints than non-turbos. Consumer Reports has also often found turbocharged engines don’t meet their expected fuel economy estimates.
However, in the J.D. Power 2016 Initial Quality Study, which composes 90 days of ownership, turbos did not have more complaints than non-turbos. Amodeo said this could indicate manufacturers have cleared the hurdle of delivering real-world fuel economy with boosted engines.
It boils down to how the driver is operating the vehicle. The EPA is gentle in testing, meaning the engine is sipping fuel. But, as we all know, we’re not always the most gentle drivers in real life.