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William Maley

Industry News: Consumer Reports Criticizes The Turbocharging Trend

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By William Maley

Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

February 5, 2013

The trend of automakers downsizing engines and adding turbochargers to add performance and increase fuel economy has drawn the ire of Consumer Reports.

The publication recently tested eleven different vehicles and found that with rare exception, “the turbocharged cars have slower acceleration and no better fuel economy than the models with bigger, conventional engines.”

Consumer Reports highlights the Ford Fusion which can come equipped with either an optional 1.6L or 2.0L EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder. In CR's testing, the 1.6L EcoBoost Fusion posted the slowest 0-60 MPH of 8.9 seconds among competitors with naturally aspirated engines: Kia Optima (8.6), Hyundai Sonata (8.4), Honda Accord (8.2), Nissan Altima (8.2) and Toyota Camry (7.7).

The 1.6L EcoBoost didn't fare any better when it came time for fuel economy as it scored the lowest as-tested combined number of 25 MPG. The Nissan Altima delivered the best with 31 MPG, followed by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry with 30.

Similarly, the 2.0L EcoBoost Fusion posted the lowest combined fuel economy number of 22 MPG when compared to rivals with V6s: Toyota Camry and Honda Accord (26) and Nissan Altima (24). As for 0-60 run, the 2.0L posted the slowest time of 7.4 seconds. The Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Honda Accord were about a second faster.

CR also highlights the Chevrolet Cruze when equipped with the 1.4L turbo-four. While the 1.4 turbo is quicker than the 1.8L by about 0.8 to 60 MPH, the two got the same 26 MPG combined average during testing.

Source: Consumer Reports, Los Angeles Times

William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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Interesting. Makes me wonder if the 1.0L Ecoboost 3 will be worth a wait in the Ford Fiesta, or if the 1.6 base motor would be a better bet.

I do like the torquey feel of the 1.4t Ecotec though. I imagine the 2.5 in the Malibu to be a nice, economical choice.

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Kinda flies in the face of everything being lamented by so many that small-displacement turbo was the way to go. It might seem there is some work to be done if there is to be any appreciable benefit. I wonder how everything fairs with long-term maintenance thrown in the mix.

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BMW's N20 motor is really the only turbo four that works: high real world MPG, linear power delivery from idle to redline, zero lag, and pleasing engine note. At idle, it's a bit clattery, but that's the price of direct injection.

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Without describing how they did their testing I'm forced back to my old mantra of "prove it CR". I don't trust any report that comes from them any more because they have too much of an agenda.

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Without describing how they did their testing I'm forced back to my old mantra of "prove it CR". I don't trust any report that comes from them any more because they have too much of an agenda.

Agreed, I have seen CR with way too much Agenda to hold them as a valid non bias test company of products.

Plus I think this tax on the size of the engine is driving this whole small size turbo thing as the companies are logically wanting to have universal engines to sell world wide.

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Well simply put, their own test results do not match what everyone else in the real world seems to be getting. I can make a Cruze Eco get 16mpg too, but I can also make it get 51mpg.

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I am not going to waste anymore time criticizing Displacement Taxes -- which does nothing to improve fuel economy or emissions. Legislators all over are more than capable of utter stupidity.

The fact of the matter is that from a strictly technical standpoint -- from an engineering standpoint. Reducing displacement and adding forced induction is a horrible way of netting improvements in fuel mileage. And sometimes, it takes a pretty non-technical savvy publication -- like consumer reports to cut through the BS and simply present the facts. It doesn't really achieve a net reduction in fuel consumption and when it does the gains are so marginal (~0.5 mpg) that it's hardly worth the $1000~$1500 and added maintenance forced induction adds to the vehicle.

If you are really serious about fuel economy, the formula is simple.

  • Use an Atkinson cam grind (which reduces specific output by ~ 25%)
  • Increase Displacement by 25% (to make up the loss)
  • Reduce the cylinder count if without reducing displacement (going from 4 cylinders to 3)
  • Reduce the number of cams and valves (going to SOHC or pushrods, and 2-valves per cylinder is a start)
  • Use Direct Injection and as high a static compression as you can (approximately 15:1 for 87 octane Atkinson cammed engines)

Do that and you'll net about 12~13% fuel economy gains over the baseline with no performance loss and no cost increase. You'll take a slight refinement hit (from the cylinder count drop) but you can mitigate that with a balancer shaft or engine mountings -- it's not unlike going from a V6 to an I5 or I4.

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Well I am not fully on the turbo bandwagon, if anyone cares, I've done some complaining about the complexity and longterm maintenance issues in the past. This report just blows up the whole debate again.

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"Consumer Reports highlights the Ford Fusion which can come equipped with either an optional 1.6L or 2.0L EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder. In CR's testing, the 1.6L EcoBoost Fusion posted the slowest 0-60 MPH of 8.9 seconds among competitors with naturally aspirated engines: Kia Optima (8.6), Hyundai Sonata (8.4), Honda Accord (8.2), Nissan Altima (8.2) and Toyota Camry (7.7)."

:confused0071: they do realize they are testing sedans right? i mean they arent for racing, they are for going from one place to the next... of course the mpg advantage will be less than substantial when you wring out one of these rubberband motors out... it aint what they were made for.

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Well, have they tested the 2.5L Fusion? Have they tested the 2.5L Malibu? The non-turbo, non eek-Assist Regal and Verano? The 3.6L Impala and LaCrosse? What were their results in testing the previous 3.6L Malibu?

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Over all we can go with bigger non turbo 4,6 and 8 size engines and run them on CNG with a cleaner longer life than on petrol. Allaround far greener and better for everyone than to go to rubber band turbo's.

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