U.S. automakers are not the same bunch as they were 10 years ago. Lightweight materials, fuel efficiency and downsized powertrains are what’s in. The “no replacement for displacement” school of thought is, basically, out. GM will plop a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, after all.
The ethos of creating more efficient cars has given way to an unexpected byproduct, however: more horsepower. Bloomberg reported on Monday that the average horsepower for an automaker’s fleet will soon cross the 300 hp mark. That figure seemed unimaginable a decade ago—the average car boasts more power than some of the world’s best in the 20th century.
Since 2008, fuel efficiency has climbed by 24 percent, but vehicle also gained a 14 percent increase in power, too. Part of the equation has been the introduction of so many turbocharged and supercharged engines to make up for the lack of grunt in a V6 or V8 engine.
At GM, the turbocharged four-cylinder has absolutely replaced the staple V6 engine. On the sedan front, only GM’s large sedans offer a traditional V6 engine: the Chevrolet Impala and Buick LaCrosse. The Cadillac CTS also still houses six cylinders in a V formation. Each of the listed cars also comes with a four-cylinder engine, too. Even GM’s crossover lineup focuses more so on four-cylinder engines.
How significant are powerful, smaller engines these days? Only 16 percent of new U.S. vehicles offer a V8 engine for 2018. We doubt the small-block V8 is on its last leg, but the days of mainstream V8 powerplants seems long gone. At least until electric motors augment them en masse.