By on June 18, 2017

2.0 turbo engine Buick, Image: General Motors

Rising emissions regulations are forcing many automakers to adopt forced induction across the board. While some, like Mazda and Honda, have been milking naturally aspirated engines for all their worth, even they have turned to turbochargers to do some of the heavy lifting. General Motors has more than doubled North American sales of vehicles with turbo motors — going from roughly 288,000 units in 2011 to 712,000 in 2016, 23 percent of its total volume.

GM’s powertrain lineup has changed dramatically. A decade ago, only a handful of its models came with a turbo option, while just under half of today’s fleet uses some form of forced induction. The trend is set to continue for the 2018 model year, boosting the carmaker’s share of turbocharged offerings above the 50 percent mark.

Both the GMC Terrain, due out this summer, and the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox will be exclusively offered with turbocharged engines while most other GM models receive them as an option.

“Turbocharging is really an important technology,” Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president of global propulsion systems, told Automotive News. “It’s enabling smaller, really smaller engines, without sacrificing peak power or peak torque.”

Turbochargers have always worked like magic at improving power and efficiency, but automakers have only recently managed to implement them without tacking on unacceptable cost or glaring reliability problems. It isn’t a perfect solution, but clever engineering has diminished the unseemly turbo lag griped about in the 1980s and early 1990s and public wariness of the technology has mostly dissolved.

Like many car companies, GM is throwing the setup into just about everything to improve economy. Currently, all but the bare bones Buick Regal 1SV is furnished with a 2.0-liter turbo and stands to become standard kit for 2018. Similarly, the Chevrolet Traverse’s 3.6-liter V6 will have to make room for the boosted 2.0 next year as the midsize SUV begins using both.

One of the few areas General Motors has yet to apply turbochargers is under the hoods of its largest SUVs and non-diesel pickups. However, that’s likely to change, as Ford has made it work in its F-Series. In June 2016, Ford said it had sold 1 million EcoBoost F-150s in the U.S. since 2011.

“Ford has just done a really good job of marketing EcoBoost as a brand across a group of loyal customers who otherwise would not have considered downsizing an engine with a turbocharger,” explained Paul Lacy, IHS Markit senior manager of Americas powertrain and compliance forecasting.

IHS Markit assumes turbo engines will represent 55 percent of all North American production by 2024, up from an expected 33 percent this year.

Nicholson didn’t specify if GM would utilize turbochargers on its trucks more broadly, but he did indicate the automaker had committed itself to adhering to regulatory benchmarks as they get progressively more stringent. “We’re never going backwards,” he said. “It’s only a matter of how fast we can move forward in improving fuel economy.”

[Image: General Motors]

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46 Comments on “General Motors to Turbocharge Its Engine Offerings for 2018, Literally...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    The Earth is saved, guys.

    fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=38339&id=37925&id=37763&id=37616

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Didn’t Trump say that he was going to eliminate the EPA and the Energy Department and roll back all environmental and CAFE standards?

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Nope,he didn’t. Eliminating CAFE would be great, though. I wish he would at least do that.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      And even if he did, GM sells cars outside the US.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Exactly this. You know why so many cars from different makers have 4-cylinder 1.4 and 1.5 liter engines?

        China.

        China imposes a stiff tax on vehicles with more than 1.5 liters of displacement. The US is no longer the leading car economy in the world.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          If GM goes to turbo V6s in the BOF stuff that has nothing to do with China or any other international market.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            I see nothing in this article beyond out loud speculation to indicate that GM is going to forced induction on non-diesel BOF vehicles.

            They’ve done an impressive job of squeezing MPG and power of the LS engines compared to the V8 offerings of other competitors.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      the principal advantage of low pressure trubocharging is the ability to have the fuel consumption of a small engine with the power and torque of a much larger one. They are not inherently “cleaner” than a NA engine.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I recently spent a couple of hours chasing down a boost leak on my car that was causing odd AFR & ignition timing readings. Replaced all of my old rusty turbo clamps and deformed couplers with ebay specials. Finally found the culprit, a leak between the compressor housing and center cartridge, with a low psi smoke test. Complete PITA.

    I keep telling myself my next car will be naturally aspirated and multi port injected! The options meeting the aforementioned are becoming extinct and/or boring.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Exactly! I called my bro and said, “get your next Accord now. Because next one will not be the one you want.” He said that next Camry looks good.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    “While some, like Mazda and Honda, have been milking naturally aspirated engines for all their worth, even they have turned to turbochargers to do some of the heavy lifting.”

    Are they milking quality engines for all of their worth? Are they milking them for all they are worth? Inquiring minds would like to know.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      In this instance, I’d say the former. But I’d have said the latter if I were using a different automaker’s engines as an example.

    • 0 avatar

      @ToddAtlasF1: What’s your point? Technology changes and Mazda engines are crap BTW, I would not call them quality engines and I would never buy Mazda because of that and it seems I am not alone. GM was making “quality” pushrod engines when everybody moved to DOHC engines for couple of decades already. Mazda and apparently Honda simply cannot keep up with rest of competition.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Todd,
      I think Mazda and Honda made some good engines.

      Even the old VC Series Mazda OHC 4s were very reliable and competive for their time. Better than any 4 from Ford or GM.

      SkyActive, the diesel is a great piece of technology.

    • 0 avatar
      sutherland555

      ToddAtlasF1 & Inside Looking Out I’d say both Mazda and Honda have their own separate and distinct issues but low quality engines aren’t a problem for either of them. You don’t have like their engines but they are well-made, reliable and high quality.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    GM’s core competency is small block V8s. It would be a shame if they threw that away in their trucks to chase Ford down a turbo V6 path that offers questionable benefits at best over the current NA V8 approach.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Hey, as soon as they figure out the space age technology known as timing chains, they’ll get right on with boosting their V6’s. Meanwhile, those of us who want to stay naturally aspirated will increasingly be doing it Atkinson hybrid style. It’s a brave new world, kiddies.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      Chevy really needs to bring back the 350 — it’s significantly more iconic than the Ford 5.0 or Hemi.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The 350 was usually a POS though. Chevy’s 283, 327 and 302 were often performance standouts when in production, while the 350 was an obsolete, emissions-strangled, low RPM shadow of the small block’s excellence in the ’50s and ’60s.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          I agree that a much more classic choice for small block Chevy displacement would be 327. The issue is primarily how it was eventually overshadowed by the big-blocks.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          Todd, the 307 was a great engine to modify.

          But, again, the Japanese with Nissan and its L Series was better than any Ford, GM, AMC or Chrysler V8.

          The L18 (1.8 litres) from the early 70s was good for 145hp out of the factory. No 327 had over 450hp out of the factory.

          Its great to be nostalgic, but be realistic.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          ToddAtlasF1, while the Chevy 350 was emissions-strangled as it came from the factory, they were tough, cheap engines that were easy to improve with aftermarket parts. Where I grew up in Kansas all 350s were rebuilt for performance, not emissions compliance.

        • 0 avatar
          Carlson Fan

          “The 350 was usually a POS though”

          Ya right, that’s why it’s the most popular engine on the face of the earth. The roller cam, vortec, multiport 350 in my ’97 Tahoe was an absolute beast! The 20 year old 350 in my 25′ SeaRay still runs like brand new and doesn’t burn a drop of oil. Pretty good considering it has spent it’s life pushing 6K pounds of boat through the water.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        “[Chevy 350 is] significantly more iconic than the Ford 5.0 or Hemi.”

        To a hardcore bowtie fan only.

        Besides, it has always been the “Small-block Chevy”, no matter if it’s 5.7L (350) or 5.3L. That’s the icon, and its heart beats strong (pun implied).

        I don’t know if they could strech it (5.3L) into 5.7L, but they already have a successful 6.0L. Seems redundant for a numerical name change, including going back to using cubic inches as a designation, something they’ve finally started to get away from (“3.6L High Feature V-6” v.s. “3900 V-6” for example.

        Today’s 5.0 is not the old 302 that was in 1994 and earlier Mustang, not by a long shot. So a theoretical new Chevy 350 would have to be based on current architecture, as was Ford’s reborn 5.0L.

        It simply could not be released today as it was/still is in my cousin’s 1995 K1500 Z-71 camp/fishing truck I just spent a lot of time in this past week/weekend. Lol the EPA would have a nervous breakdown when that spider injection acts up (99% of the time, at some point) and it starts knocking people in the lab out cold with fumes so toxic.

        • 0 avatar

          I chose an LQ4 6.0 for my ’57 Chevy project car. It certainly makes the ’06 Savana 3500 in which it resides now a mover.

          I’m sorry, but no one in their right mind would intentionally choose a Gen I-II SBC over Gen III-IV LS goodness. Yes, there are issues with some Gen Vs, I’m sure the way the 1/2 ton trucks are tuned have a lot to do with losing sales to Ford and now FCA. But maybe some more sensible EPA regs will allow for more sensible tuning.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Sure they could stop chasing Ford but that doesn’t make any sense, they are falling behind in the sales race currently even Ram is outselling the Silverado, so clearly they need to do something if they want to keep market share and profit per unit up.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      In general, I agree with this statement. However, I will point out the GM 2.0T is an excellent engine that is reliable, highly tunable, and has the core quality of “good” GM engines, namely it bows at the altar of torque, has high parts availability, parts are cheap, service is relatively easy, and it is lightweight.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Right, clearly Ford has no idea WHAT its doing. And the sales show that clearly.

      You have most people who agree that it’s best that GM should work on stopping being a giant lumbering dinosaur that takes 15 years to figure out how to make its next move. Then you have some trying to cling on to old technology and resisit change.

      If the latter got their way, Ford would still be selling just the Model T, now costing $23 w/tax. Any color you want, so long as its black.

      Yes, I love some old GM products, but do I think GM should build a large carbureted car with a wheezing 307 in 2017? Of course not.

      I would LOVE a 2017 BOF 6.2L-powered Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency. No padded top, just DONT MAKE IT A FOUR DOOR COUPE! Model the rear doors off a late model Town Car or its Kia clone, Amanti/Opirus.

      Vinyl top? No. Panoramic sunroof? Yes. Pillow top seats? Yes. Column shift/bench? Eh… No. Give it a tach, maybe a modern sweeping speedometer, I dunno lol. Real wood.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        There is obviously a huge difference between a carbureted wheezing 307 from the malaise era and a modern 5.3 or 6.2 Gen V engine. I don’t think it’s terribly nostalgic to wish for the latter to continue on in trucks (and cars) and to eventually evolve into a Gen VI, etc. I hope there is a place for a NA V8 in trucks for years to come. If that makes me a Luddite, at least I don’t think I’m the only one.

        I also don’t believe the reason that the GM trucks are struggling sales wise is due to their powertrains, which are pretty well regarded. Rather I think the new Ford designs are both better looking and offer more features, while Ram competes well on price. I would be skeptical that just adding a turbo 6 would be the magic bullet to reverse the declines.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The 4.3 used in the 1/2 ton PU’s stuck in a Colorado/Canyon with a turbo would be killer! Even the current V6 used the midsize twins would probably make a pretty good truck engine with twin tubo’s bolted on. That engines biggest drawback is it’s lack of low end grunt which turbo charging would fix.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I would like to see the N/A 4.3L in smaller-than-half-ton GM trucks.

      Oh, and build us a new Astro and Aerostar off the midsize truck platforms, GM and Ford respectively.

      Make it a bad-ass truck of a van that will fetch more than a Traverse I bet, like a jumbo Mitsubishi Delica (not Celica autocorrect!).

      More rugged than the Transit/Connect/§hitty Express, more efficient and modern compared to the Millennium Edition f/s Chevy Express.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Turbos are great for economy if you stay out of the boost, which is why they improve the EPA ratings so effectively. But I have to wonder how many turbo drivers actually get improved fuel economy in their daily driving versus a larger naturally aspirated engine of comparable power. I suspect that this huge change-over will result in far smaller fuel savings and CO2 reductions than the EPA regulators have planned on.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      My cousin says he gets 26 on his way to his vacation house (empty trailer, 65 mph/under as its two lane country roads) and 12ish on the return trip pulling his tractor, 2012 F-150 EcoBoost SuperCrew 4×4 (non off road package) XLT. I don’t think that’s too bad. They had a 2wd 5.4L 2004ish Expedition that got teens or lower all the time IIRC. They have said many times that the F-150 is far more powerful *when you need it*, but gets MPG that the Expy could only dream of in normal driving.

      He says the F-150 got better MPG before he put aftermarket wheels/tires (his factory wheels were ruined by an inattentive detailer, he was compensated and purchased the same diameter aftermarket wheel and installed more aggressive mud-grip tires).

      He says on long road trips, returns decently high 20s MPG, occasionally hit 30 average for a while (I’m sure flat terrain, no head wind LOL this isn’t Norm’s Buick). It *is* how you drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      turbo_awd

      @stingray65 – I think the problem is HOW the turbo kicks in. Well, and the temptation to mod it. My ’05 Legacy GT is pushing more than stock hp, but until it warms up a little, it’s a dog off the line sometimes.. so no power until you hit boost, and then WHAM, huge rush of power. It’s hard to tune boost to only come on a little, when you also want a way to tell it to come on fast.. I don’t need 80%+ power all the time, but with the go-pedal, it’s often either 30% or 80%+. When 60% would do, but is hard to dial in, which makes for bad fuel economy. With a V6/V8, it would be easier to dial in 40%, 45%, 50%, etc when needed..

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Stingray, I picked up a ’17 Jetta with the 1.4T engine last year, and so far, I’m getting around 32-34 mpg, depending on a) how fast I want to drive (if I hoon around too much, the average drops to around 30), and b) the highway/surface street driving mix. And I do *not* drive slowly (which is good, because the Jetta’s a damn competent little performer). The mpg/speed compromise has been worked out, I’d say.

      The only question I’d have concerns long term durability. That one’s a wait and see proposition.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      I’m lucky if I hit the rated 25-26mpg city with my turbocharged 1.6L (Mini Clubman S). It’s just to easy to get on the boost – and abuse it. 22-24mpg is more likely with the way I drive (accelerate quickly up to the speed limit).

      I suppose it isn’t that bad considering everything – the car is engineered for a lot of low-end torque (well, a lot for a very small 4-cyl engine) but honestly, I was getting the same kind of mileage out of my ol’ Volvo 850 GLT or even a ’86 Honda Accord LXi.

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I’m midway though a lease on a BMW 320i. Just got back from a road trip and turned 35 mpg over 480 miles or so. I give a lot of credit to the transmission on that one. Cruise set on 80 and only turning 2200 RPMs. Also filled with no ethanol premium consistently as I have a local station that offers it for the same price as everyone else’s E10.

      My last car, a Lincoln MKZ with the NA 3.5L might turn 25 mpgs on a good day of only highway running.

    • 0 avatar
      Fusion2010

      I bought a 2015 Fusion Titanium AWD in Dec 2015 to replace my 2010 Fusion SEL FWD with the 3.0 Duratec engine and even with AWD the ’15 Fusion with the 2.0 Ecoboost gets significantly better fuel economy.

      Now that the weather is finally nice here in Canada i’m getting around 6.5 l/100km (35mpg) on the highway doing about 118 km/hr (75mph/hr) and the best that old 3.0 V6 could manage was probably around 9l/100KM (26 mpg) and combined mileage with the 2.0 Ecoboost is 7.5-8.0 l/100KM.

      I wasn’t sure going into this purchase what the mileage would be like given AWD and the added weight vs my ’10 Fusion but I have been pleasantly surprised. I can almost match my partners ’16 Scion IM for highway mileage and he’s got a 1.8 litre engine with 138HP.

      How it’ll age as the miles pile on who knows but so far so good!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Sizing the engine is key. Most turbo engines are just too small. What they should do is take the existing engines and “dieselfy” them. Small turbos and low revs, but “big” displacement.

    Anyways hopefully that 48V tech will enable mild hybrids and e-turbos. But where we are now is pretty abysmal.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      I am puzzled that more manufacturers aren’t exploring Mazda and Volvo’s route – keep the big fours and turbocharge THOSE. Maybe it’s a worst of both worlds situation, doesn’t appease Chinese regulators and doesn’t sufficiently amuse upmarket North American and European shoppers. Still, intriguing.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ““We’re never going backwards,” he said. “It’s only a matter of how fast we can move forward in improving fuel economy.””

    Check your shifter because it is without a doubt in reverse.

  • avatar
    LD

    GM does the bare minimum to stay in the race e.g. For 2018 Ford is putting in the 10 speed transmission co-developed with GM in all trim levels of the Expedition. GM is only putting that transmission into the Yukon Denali and maybe the Escalade. Both have the 6.2 liter engine and maybe it will help fuel economy in that engine, but it’s the smaller 5.3 liter V8 used in the lower trim levels for Suburban and the regular Yukons that really need the gearing help the 10 speed provides to improve performance. But GM will no do that on a proactive basis, only when buyers start defecting to the Expedition that may happen.


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