2018 Chevrolet Equinox: downside to turbo?

New cars like the Equinox are using turbo charged small engines (1.5 L). What are the downsides to expecting these small engines powering a midsize suv? Expensive turbo to work on? Replace the engine after 50,000 miles? There must be compromises to using these small engines? Like to know what they are?


Turbo engines are NOT new technology. I am driving a turbo 4 cylinder, 17 year old Saab sedan weighing 3600 lbs. The car has 108,000 miles on it with no mechanical work done to the engine. It gets 30 mpg on the highway at 75 mph and always has. Saab has used this technology for over 40 years as has GM, Chrysler, Volvo and others.

Don’t worry about durability or longevity. The turbo is there to give you the power of a V6 with the miles per gallon of a 4 cylinder.

In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage is possible turbo lag. From the reviews I’ve read, that can vary widely between cars, so paying attention on a test drive is important.

Drive it and see if you like it. It may not be a problem for you at all.

As an example, I’ve heard that CVTs are lousy transmissions and will degrade the ride of the car. My 2017 Accord has a CVT, and I’m please with it. I notice no driveability issues with it. Maybe other cars with CVTs have issues, but not my Accord.

I’ve written quite a few stories from the opposite perspective, asking, how are small turbos better? There are many examples to be had showing that they don’t add more power, and don’t get better mileage than modern V6 engines. However, your concerns are primarily reliability and serviceability issues. There are no valid concerns that I know of. On the other hand, the manufacturer with the top durability, reliability, and quality scores on almost every survey or report is Toyota, who has limited its use of turbos more than any other automaker.

They work fine for most any driver, taking the kids to soccer, or commuting to work. But there are some downsides

  • Louder exhaust noise during accelerations
  • High performance precise tolerance parts can fail and may be quite expensive to repair
  • Maintenance and repair jobs on the rest of the engine can be more expensive, b/c the turbo parts are in the way.
  • Diagnosing an engine problem can be more complicated and expensive b/c the shop techs have another variable to consider.

I drove a couple of 4 cyl Turbo equipped vehicles and I did not notice any loud exhaust noise . Actually most people would not even know the vehicle had a turbo if they did not see the Turbo emblem.

It is not new technology , and turbo or no turbo will not influence my next purchase.

I replaced the spark plugs on a 2016 Lexus on Saturday with the turbo charged four cylinder engine, no different than a common four cylinder engine. Most turbo four cylinder engines that I have serviced during the last 30 years are just as easy to perform maintenance as non turbo.

Replacing the spark plugs on a four cylinder engine takes a fraction of the time it takes compared to a V-6.


Are any of these statements based on experience or real working knowledge ?
Somehow I doubt it.

Agree with your other points but not this one. I’ve owned 2 turbo cars that were quieter than other cars. I’ve driven quite a few different turbo cars and never noticed they were louder than comparable normally aspirated cars. The turbo acts as a bit of a muffler.

I’m curious, what have you driven or ridden in that was louder?

The main downside to the new turbo cars is that they’re being pitched as fuel-efficient, but if you drive them like most people drive, the turbo will spool up and cut your fuel efficiency. So basically they’re using the presence of a turbo to game the fuel efficiency tests and claim higher mileage than you are likely to realize real-world unless you drive like grandma.

They’ll drive it nice and gentle to establish the fuel efficiency readings, but power is measured at wide-open throttle which means the turbo is boosting (no pun intended) the power ratings.

The end result is a car in which you can either hit the fuel efficiency numbers, or the power numbers, but not both at the same time.

Just like any car…


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That’s very insightful. :wink:

Yes, but to an exaggerated degree, because they often put weenie little engines in there that have no guts at all, and then slap a turbo on them and call it a day. So if you want to, say, maintain speed up a hill it’s guaranteed the turbo’s gonna be spooled up, and you’re going to be using significantly more fuel. Meanwhile my V6 will just slightly increase the fuel expenditure for the same result.

The biggest turbo offender is Ford, whose ‘Ecoboost’ engines often fail to make their EPA mpgs in real-world tests. Honda and VW, on the other hand, do pretty good.

If you want a non-turbo, check out the Mazda CX-5, and no CVT, either.

Pure conjecture. Fuelly.com reports 25.6 mpg for the 2017 Honda Accord (3.5L V6, 278 hp) and 28.7 mpg for the 2018 model (2.0L turbo 4, 252 hp).

And? Nothing in what you said goes against what I said.

Correct…I eagerly await your actual data (vs. conjecture).


Well, let’s see what we can infer from your examples:

The 2017 is faster 5-60, 30-50, and 50-70 and only 1/10th of a second slower in the 1/4 mile.

The 2018 adds a more complex 10 speed transmission and, of course, the turbo.

Car and Driver’s tests show identical fuel mileage (Fuelly is great, but only when the sample size is sufficient. You’re looking at a sample size of 7 here, which when you take into account the fact that these samples were gathered by non-experts who may very well be reading the mpg estimator in the MID, isn’t very good data).

So, we got more complex in the engine, and the transmission, and get identical, or nearly so if we’re being generous, mileage and better performance only by the very slightest of margins and only in a drag race, in a car that’s 120 pounds lighter and, having added an underbody aerocover has a 3% lower coefficient of drag than the 2017 (source: Honda press kit).

Huh. Doesn’t look like the turbo really does much of anything, does it… Oh wait! Yes it does, because the official mpg numbers from fueleconomy.gov show the 2018 getting 2mpg better combined than the 2017, just like I said it would in the official tests that the turbo was meant to game.


What was Car and Driver’s sample size?

Still waiting…


Considering their sample was taken by people who know what they’re doing and do the test the same way each time, more weight can be given to their results than from 7 internet randoms punching numbers they obtained who-knows-how into a website.