In 2007, four-cylinder models represented 23 percent of Chevrolet retail sales in the United States, less than either V-6 or V-8 equipped models. So far this year that number has increased to 46 percent, making fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines the top choice in the Chevrolet lineup.
“Chevrolet’s investment in advanced engine technology is reflected in the increased popularity of our four-cylinder models," said Rick Scheidt, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet. “These technologies offer the performance and refinement drivers expect from Chevy in smaller engines that deliver the fuel efficiency they want."
Customers are moving out of V-8 powered SUVs into V-6 powered crossovers like the Traverse, and from V-6 powered cars and crossovers into fuel-efficient four-cylinder models, such as Cruze, Malibu, and Equinox, he said.
“The shift in consumer preference evidenced by Chevrolet’s lineup is a great example of how much four-cylinder engines have improved across the industry," said Bill Visnic, analyst and senior editor for Edmunds AutoObserver.com. “Four cylinders used to be something to settle for. But advances in engine design and technology have made four-cylinder engines vastly more refined, and power output has increased to where V-6 engines were just a few years ago."
Here are three examples of how Chevrolet is applying technology to improve the performance, refinement, and fuel efficiency of its four-cylinder line:
Turbocharging helps Chevrolet Cruze Eco deliver 42 mpg highway
The Cruze is available with turbocharged, Ecotec 1.4L four-cylinder engine that combines the fuel efficiency of a small engine with the power of a much larger engine when needed. The turbocharged engine delivers 138 horsepower and 148 pound feet of torque and up to 42 miles per gallon on the highway for Cruze Eco models – more than any other gasoline-powered car in the United States.
By comparison, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE featured a larger 2.2 liter four-cylinder, with nearly identical output at 148 horsepower and 152 lb-ft of torque, but five fewer miles per gallon on the highway.
The 1.4L, turbocharged engine will also be used in the all-new Chevrolet Sonic, which will arrive at U.S. dealers this fall.
Variable Valve Timing helps Chevrolet Malibu deliver 33 mpg highway
The Malibu features an Ecotec 2.4L four-cylinder engine, with variable valve timing that precisely adjusts the opening and closing of the engine valves to meet demand. The result improves performance and fuel economy for the Malibu, with 170 horsepower, 160 lb-ft of torque, and an EPA estimated 33 miles per gallon on the highway.
Variable valve timing is featured on 12 Chevrolets, including the Camaro, Volt, Cruze and Silverado.
Direct injection helps Chevrolet Equinox reach 32 mpg highway
The Equinox also features an Ecotec 2.4L engine, with both variable valve timing and direct injection. Compared to traditional fuel-injection, direction injection sprays fuel directly into the cylinder – enabling more precise fuel delivery for improved performance, fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions.
In the Equinox, the direct-injection 2.4L Ecotec is rated at 182 horsepower, and 172 lb.-ft. of torque, while delivering an EPA-estimated 32 mpg highway – more than any vehicle in its class, including the Ford Escape Hybrid. By comparison, the previous-generation 2008 Equinox had a 3.4L V-6 that delivered a comparable 185 horsepower and 210 lb.-ft. of torque with24 mpg highway.
Direct injection is also available on the Camaro V-6, the Equinox V-6, and the Traverse crossover. GM PR