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4 cylinder turbo vs. 6 non turbo for power

been test driving different cars to purchase. Finding most 4 cylinders to be sluggish yet have had problems with the turbo 06’ Subaru.

I want fuel economy and power. Any suggestions?

How much faith should I put into the Consumer Report Guide and annual auto issue?

Not sure what to believe.

Most 4cyl turbos deliver similar power and economy as v6 w/o turbo, but I find the v6s smoother, so I prefer the v6. Have you tried a Mazda 3 w/o turbo? They’re reasonably peppy. I trust CR for overall trends. If you’re looking at used cars, the care it got is very important.

Agree; the Mazda 3 is a peppy and great handling car. It is also very reliable. Another good bet is the Toyota Corolla with the 2.4 liter engine, new this year. It’s the same unit as in the larger Camry. Should have lots of zoom. Also very reliable.

I would stay away from turbo engines if you want a very long and trouble-free life.

Consumer Reports is often maligned, but in general is infinitely more reliable than any car salesman, or car mangazine. The writers for car magazines get a free car to test and only have it for a short time. They also get free food, so they ususally say good things about the car. They can’t predict how a car will behave as it ages; tha’s not their business. Consumer Reports (who BUYS the cars anonymously) and JD Power do surveys of cars a few years old, and those results are quite good, although not perfect. Our family has used their tests for 40 years in buying appliances, computers, cameras, etc.

CR is peculiar in that they have 2 ratings for used cars: the detailed ratings for different subsystems and then the overall rating. A car (usually Big 3) can get the best detailed ratings in a category (e.g., midsize sedan), but the Toyota always gets the highest overall rating. I have a hard time believing them because of that. rates cars in the ‘True Cost to Own’ feature and they typically rate Toyota among the lowest cost, as well as Honda. JD Power also provides subsystem ratings, though not as detailed as CR’s.

I’d use True Cost to Own to place a dollar value on maintenance and then refer to JD Power and CR to find out what subsystems are problematic, if any. The problem with CR and Power is that they have relative ratings, but give you no idea of the difference in cost for maintenance. Or anything else, for that matter.

Edmunds ratigns are OK if you don’t count the cost. They use dealer prices and maintenance costs. Having said that, their relative ratings are useful but a wise owner can get all those things done for a lot less. They also don’t know what to predict when the car is 10 years old, but thn few people know. I talk a lot to good mechanics who tell me what to expect to break in various cars as they age.

You are correct that the non-turbo 4-cylinder Subarus are not exactly powerhouses.
Turbo 4-cylinder Subarus and Non-Turbo 6-cylinder Subarus put out approximately the same generous amount of power. The difference is in the way that the power is delivered.

The turbo-4 is a “fast and furious experience”–in other words, fairly normal power until the turbo cuts in, and then all hell breaks loose in terms of power. By contrast, the non-turbo-6 has very strong, linear power delivery throughout its rpm range. Additionally, the 6 is far quieter and runs at lower rpms at highway speed.

I think that an adolescent or 20-something male would undoubtedly prefer the turbo’s type of power. I prefer the quiet, smooth application of power of the 6 cylinder. Also I would take note of the fact that the 4-cylinder engine has a timing belt that needs to be replaced at ~100k, whereas the 6-cylinder engine uses a timing chain that normally never needs to be replaced.

As to CR, its evaluation of new cars is very honest and forthright–unlike publications that accept advertising, such as Motor Trend (whose staff has never met a car that they didn’t like, as long as the manufacturer paid for a few glossy ads).

As just one example of CR’s objectivity, while they normally “gush” over new Toyota models, they advised against buying a Yaris when it first came out, due to its really poor performance in several critical areas. More recently, they reported that the Yaris has had excellent reliability and that it has been improved somewhat, but that its performance–especially in comparison to its peers–is still too poor for them to recommend it.

When it comes to the reliability ratings in CR, that is subject to the honesty and the intellgence of the subscribers who respond to the annual survey on their particular car(s). Naturally, some of the people who respond are the type who do not properly maintain their cars, and as a result, they blame every car problem on the car’s manufacturer, rather than looking in the mirror at the guilty party.

However, even when you factor in some lack of reality in some of the people who responded to their survey, CR’s statistics have been very accurate, based on my experience with specific cars and the reliability ratings that were reported for them.

Saab Turbo’s in the mid '80’s were great and pretty much bulletproof. At the moment I don’t think any 4 cyc. turbo’s are that good. Including Saab since GM took over.

Theoretically I like a 4 cyc turbo over a 6. When you need the power the turbo makes a small engine “bigger”. At the moment 6’s are better for more torque (stronger pull from a dead start) and smoothness. Not hearing good things about Subaru’s turbo’s.

Saab motors of old were designed for turbo’s and held up well over time. Many turbo’s are added to motors that weren’t really designed for them from the outset, ie. Subaru. In these cases you get more power, but you don’t get long term life from the motor.

Fuel economy and power are usually mutually exclusive (unless you buy a motorcycle). Choose which one is more important.

Honda’s V6 Accord is probably the best balance of fuel economy and power in my opinion.

In addition to all the good points, turbos don’t have to be unreliable. Chargers on our diesel tractors are pretty maintenance free; but then they are diesels. It’s a bean counter decision and an informed opinion by periodicals like CR that determine my priorities. Honda has refrained from using turbos for years…until recently. If they feel it wouldn’t compromise their 4 cyl motor reliability reputation, that would be a worthwhile start. That differs from the “hang on the turbo now mentality” to juice up sales.
I like the suggestions of putting previously proven larger reliable motors into smaller cars as a great approach to reliable higher performance.

CR is not without fault, but always my most reliable reference. I would suggest that anyone who doubts their integrity; to take a tour of their testing facilities. Their people are even more impressive than their “physical plant”.

Hondas V6 is good, so is Toyota’s 3.5l V6, economical too. Nissan’s V6 is a slight step down, as is GM’s 3.6l DOHC engine. I’m also happy with the Ford 3.5l DOHC we have.

“Edmunds ratigns are OK if you don’t count the cost. They use dealer prices and maintenance costs.”

But that’s precisely why they are useful. Not for the dollar value, but for comparative purposes. It gives you a good idea how much more a luxury car will cost to maintain than an equivalent mid-level car. It also allows you to see just how much more you’ll spend (in relative terms) for that Jaguar compared to the Lexus. Do you really want a car that will cost 4 times as much to maintain? What is the relative difference between a Camry and a Malibu? Neither CR nor JD Power provide that information. And you can consider the dollar value as the maximum the average driver might pay. It’s a conservative estimate of the cost of ownership.

In any case, they don’t depend on their own data, they use actuarial data from the insurance business (read: extended warranties).