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3-Cylinders? Mini’s Just the Latest with Downsized Engine

A replacement for displacement?

by on Nov.22, 2013

The new Mini Hardtop may be a little larger but it will be a getting a smaller 3-cylinder engine.

Mini rolled into the L.A. Auto Show this week with an all-new version of its popular Hardtop model, but equally big news was the debut of two all-new engines.

And while the new Mini is getting a little more maxi – its overall length stretched by 4.5 inches – the third-generation Hardtop will now be offered with an engine smaller than ever, a new 1.5-liter three-cylinder package.

Power Up!

There’s an old adage in the auto industry that, “there’s no replacement for displacement,” but while the big V-8 may remain the icon of American muscle, the reality is that motorists have been rapidly downsizing their engine choices in recent years.  Sixes have replaced eights; and now, it seems, a growing number of three-cylinder powertrains are coming to market to replace inline-fours.

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Smaller Engines Are Proving Big Sellers

V-6s now dominate in Ford’s F-Series, while Volvo will migrate to 4s and 3s.

by on Sep.21, 2011

The majority of Ford F-150s are now being ordered with 6-cylinder engines.

Nearly six of every 10 Ford F-Series pickups now are being purchased with V-6 powertrains, Ford officials confirm, a significant shift away from the classic V-8s that have long been the engines of choice among full-size truck buyers.

The downsizing reflects a variety of factors, according to top Ford officials, including a growing emphasis on fuel economy among all U.S. buyers.  But Ford is also benefitting from the development of a new generation of high-performance V-6s that can match and, in some cases, even exceed the performance and towing power of bigger eights, even while delivering significantly better mileage.

Stay in the Know!

The shift seen by Ford isn’t limited to big trucks.  Across the board, American motorists are migrating to smaller powertrains – and several makers are responding by planning big changes in their engine line-ups.  Hyundai has largely switched to I-4s for its mainstream line-up, and Volvo soon plans to shift to 4- and even 3-cylinder engines across the board.

“People are looking at fuel economy more than ever,” says Ford’s President of the Americas Mark Fields, who adds that the key selling point is that with the new engines, “you don’t have to compromise.”

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4-Cylinder Engines Now Outselling V-6s

The V-8 continues to fade in face of rising fuel costs.

by on Jul.26, 2011

Americans are opting for smaller and smaller engines - with or without hybrid technology, like this four-cylinder package in the Lexus CT 200h.

American motorists have proven decidedly stubborn when it comes to downsizing, willing to hang onto their pickups, SUVs and bigger passenger cars despite near-record fuel prices.

But buyers are showing a lot more flexibility with what they order under the hood.  Makers like Ford are scoring big gains with smaller powertrains, such as the EcoBoost V6 offered on the latest version of the F-Series pickup.

In fact, the trend towards smaller engines has not only swept aside the V8 but now threatens to marginalize the V6.  With a number of new models, such as the latest Hyundai Sonata, not even offering six-cylinder options, the Inline-4, or I-4, engine became the most popular powertrain choice among U.S. consumers during the first half of 2011, according to research firm IHS Automotive.

Power Up!

Four-cylinder engines now account for 43% of the U.S. automotive market, up from 26% in 2005.  During the same time period, the six-banger dropped from 43% to just 37%.  And the once all-mighty V-8, that simple of American muscle?  It has dipped from 29% to just 18% over the past six years, with most studies predicting still further declines.

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