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2012 Ford Explorer

EcoBoost 2.0-liter four-cylinder  (Source: Dana60Cummins/Wikipedia)
The new EcoBoost engine option gives up 40 hp to the V6, but betters it in low-end torque and fuel efficiency

With rising gas prices and the government's keen eye on CAFE numbers, more and more fuel efficient vehicles are starting to flood the market. Turbocharging was once relegated to performance cars and diesels, but now manufacturers are starting to adopt the direct injection and turbocharging for their mainstream gasoline engine vehicles. Hyundai has found success by replacing its V6 engine on the Sonata with a 274 hp turbocharged inline-4. Likewise, Ford has found success with its EcoBoost V6 engines in the Taurus SHO, Flex, and F-150. 

Now, Ford is bringing a new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder to the recently revamped Explorer crossover. While the Explorer is currently available with a naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 that produces 283 hp (@6,500 rpm) and 252 lb-ft of torque (@4,100 rpm), the new EcoBoost generated 240 hp (@5,500 rpm) and 272 lb-ft of torque (3,000 rpm). The new engine is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission and is only available with front-wheel drive models. 

Many people would likely give up the 40 horses for the added low-end grunt and the fuel economy increase. The V6 is rated at 17/25/20 (city/highway/combined) while the new EcoBoost four-cylinder is rated at 20/28/25. Ford says that these numbers better segment rivals like the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot.

Much like the EcoBoost V6 engine option (which is more expensive than the 5.0-liter V8), the EcoBoost four-cylinder in the Explorer will command a $995 price premium versus the V6.

"Today's SUV buyers place a high priority on miles per gallon, so Explorer has expanded its portfolio of fuel-efficient engines with an all-new EcoBoost offering," said Amy Marentic, Ford group marketing manager. "SUV buyers deserve efficiency with their capability, so Explorer now offers best-in-class V6 and four-cylinder fuel efficiency." 

Ford has seen the sales of its V6-equipped F-150s eclipse those of the larger V8 engines as buyers flock to power and fuel economy -- the company is hoping that that same formula works for the Explorer which has already sold more units in the first six months of 2011 than the old model did in all of 2010. 

Ford is also bringing an EcoBoost three-cylinder engine to its subcompact Fiesta.

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RE: Is it worth it?
By tastyratz on 7/29/2011 10:31:35 AM , Rating: 2
I think you are close but not quite. Turbocharged engines are more *mechanically* efficient by utilizing losses, but they are not more *fuel* efficient making the same power at 100% engine output. Don't forget the turbocharger is not a free lunch, while it uses waste exhaust gas energy to spin it does so by placing a restriction in the exhaust and in off boost in the intake as well. This piled on the fact that you need less efficient air fuel ratios and timing to support a denser charge per liter lead to less fuel efficiency. Anytime you are in boost to get max power, you use more fuel than another engine of equal power NA uses.
Generally NA engines have a bsfc of .50 at peak, turbocharged might be .60.

Also overall fuel efficiency for light driving in a non stressed turbo engine that is not making boost will be better because it is a smaller engine I am totally on board with that.

RE: Is it worth it?
By Spuke on 7/29/2011 11:09:05 AM , Rating: 2
This piled on the fact that you need less efficient air fuel ratios and timing to support a denser charge per liter lead to less fuel efficiency.
How does this change on direct injected engines?

RE: Is it worth it?
By tastyratz on 7/29/2011 4:01:44 PM , Rating: 2
direct injection allows for a more precise mixture and flexibility, but you can't get away from needing a richer mixture under power for engine safety/reliability. the biggest benefit I think of direct injection is the precision control of the injection event relative to crank angle. This allows full flexibility and leaner cruising mixtures. high pressure turbocharged events benefit from the better atomization so you can run a leaner mixture than before per say, but it still needs richer at wot compared to a similar NA engine

RE: Is it worth it?
By Spuke on 7/29/2011 6:25:00 PM , Rating: 2
but it still needs richer at wot compared to a similar NA engine
Thanks for the explanation.

RE: Is it worth it?
By JediJeb on 7/29/2011 5:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
Where fuel efficiency increases come in relative to turbo versus NA engines is that with the increased torque you can get away with a higher gear ratio so you travel farther per revolution of the engine. It is a trick that some people are using when putting the 4 cylinder Cummins (Bread Truck) engines in vehicles. They crank up the boost and the fuel injectors which should be using more fuel, but they also put in crazy high gear ratios and get better fuel efficiency in the end.

Same reason I can get fair mileage from my F150, because I can run in 5th gear at 30 mph or lower. Even in town I can do a quick 1,3,5 shift and be in overdrive for most of the distance between stoplights. It isn't as easy to get away with that in the V8 5.0L trucks because their torque curve maxes out at much higher rpm than my I6 4.9L.

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