TTAC commentator BeyondxB writes:
Long term lurker here.. been seeing a lot of Turbo products lately and I wonder is turbo truly making its way to the mainstream? Will we see Corollas with 1.8 turbo engines go on sale anytime soon, and being well received by the automatic-driving masses? I still hold the idea that some Subaru turbos will explode after 3 years (some things you learn in highschool are hard to forget) , is that still true these days?
More and more articles are coming up in support of the Turbos , but in my mind I’d wait until either Honda or Toyota comes out with a standard equipment turbo engine economy car (not niche produts), and then wait another 5 years for the guinea pig phrase to be over.
Do I worry too much? Or is life too short to worry about potential engine life decerase between 100,000 to 200,000 miles?
I’ve been looking online for a used fun ride (RWD, turbo, or AWD..) , and everything turbo just screams ” timebomb” to me.. what year vintage Japanese turbo would last in your opinion?
Thanks for reading!
Ground rule: let’s focus on gasoline engines, as diesels sans turbo must stay in the history books. Hmm-kay?
I admire your skepticism. We know auto manufacturers love being the Tail that Wags the Dog. Hell, it’s one of the reasons why this website got so damn popular. To wit: the last Piston Slap on this subject and something I wrote many moons ago, riffed on by Csaba Csere in a Car and Driver editorial the following month. Or at least I think it was, 2008 was a looong time ago in the Internet era.
So I’ve spilled plenty of digital ink on the matter. And while EcoBoost may not be an SVO re-do to the extent I once believed, this claimed commoditization of turbocharging is getting out of hand. I considered your query while playing drums during a bad rainstorm over the weekend, remembering what my 7th grade jazz drum instructor once said:
“The only way you’ll be a better Jazz musician is by working on the basics, not showing off your technique. Do you know what K.I.S.S. means? It means keep it simple, stupid!“
The KISS principle has validity in the auto world too, if one takes a long-term (i.e. at least a decade) view on the reputation, customer perception and ultimate sustainability of a brand. All that turbo plumbing, the intercooler/cooling system upgrades, computer tweaks and the turbo itself sure as hell aren’t free. There’s a reason people buy solid-axle, naturally aspirated Corollas, and why Toyota dumps them for stupid cheap money. Conversely, there’s a reason why Subaru is an affordable niche manufacturer with plenty of turbo goodness in their portfolio…who is now owned by the Masters of Supply Chain and Cost Management, Toyota.
And if these tail-dog-wagging, news hungry, Turbo Fanbois lived in my brain, their response would include the advancements in technology, lower cost of production thanks to outsourcing, better fuel economy in EPA tests and the likelihood that the first owner (at least) shall experience zero problems. And they’ll shoot down my 7th grade drum instructor with, “What does he know? He’s a creepy old perv with a canary yellow Coupe DeVille.” Truth.
And perhaps both sides are right. Much like cars were 100 years ago, turbos were once relegated to people with more money than sense. Those days are long gone, thankfully. But will we see standard, across the board turbocharging by all auto manufacturers? I seriously doubt it. It’s still more expensive, takes a lot more energy to produce (parts don’t just fall from trees) and for the (majority?) of drivers who couldn’t possibly emulate the EPA’s fuel economy testing, well, they will be spinning the turbo far too often when they could be lazily lugging around a larger non-turbo four-banger, a modest V6 or a truly ree-laxed V8.
Time will tell, but don’t buy stock in the Turbos just yet.
Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.