Ford Bets Big On Four Cylinder Mills

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
ford bets big on four cylinder mills

With 4-cylinder engines increasing their market share from 40 percent to 53 market share in just 5 years, Ford is forecasting even more growth for these engines in the years to come. The Blue Oval is betting that by 2020, 66 percent of cars will come with a 4-banger.

If Ford’s numbers sound on the high side, that’s because they are. Four-cylinders have become more prevalent in recent years, making their way from compact cars to vehicles as large as the BMW 528i and the Ford Taurus. But for the forseeable future, they won’t be making their way into full-size trucks, which still account for 13 percent of all auto sales, will be sticking with V6 and V8 engines. Larger crossovers and body-on frame SUVs have also retained their V6 and V8 engines, as well as minivans.

Having invested so heavily in 4-cylinder engines, it’s natural that Ford would be so bullish on their future. But the engine downsizing trend also looks here to stay, and with so many boosted 4-cylinder engines replacing V6s in various products, their numbers may not be so unreasonable.

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  • DenverMike DenverMike on May 21, 2013

    We live in an age when 'base' stripper Civics are 3,000 lbs and base Taurus' are 4,000 lbs. ¿Who are we fooling??? No, we need Civics, and the like, with normally aspirated, no drama V6s. And regular V8s, not tuned for 400+ HP in Taurus' and the like. And not with 3.73, drag strip gears either. Guaranteed their MPG would go up substantially. Not to mention their longevity.

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    • DeadWeight DeadWeight on May 22, 2013

      @CJinSD It's not just a nostalgic & optimistic romantic notion that I managed - eeeeaaasily WELL over 35ish mpg combined in my 1994 Civic EX 5 speed, driving it like I stole it, I might add. That rev happy 140 horsepower motor in that weight class, that tight steering, that rifle bolt manual shifter, that interior - it was the closest thing to a front wheel drive Japanese BMW 318 ever made. I distinctly remember getting incredible fuel economy in that car, and being amazed at how far I could drive it before I had to refill its relatively diminutive tank.

  • JaySeis JaySeis on May 21, 2013

    The country was literally built and fed off 4cyl. gas & diesel engines in cars, trucks, stationary power plants, boats, tractors, construction & industrial machinery, oh yes, some airplanes. .in an era when a six was a big engine. No reason we shouldn't return to our roots. Sorta like new math. 1, 2, 3, 4......

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on May 21, 2013

      Sure, but when people tasted 6s and 8s, 4s became less popular. So for the last 3 decades, mfrs have tried to simulate the performance of a 6 or 8 by boosting a 4, with uneven results. In today's 'gotta have' culture, a boosted 4 will always face tough competition from smooth, conventional 6s and 8s.

  • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on May 21, 2013

    Why do people feel that bolting a turbo onto a motor makes it into a complex beast? They have been around a long time and are used in some applications where durability and reliability are paramount (18 wheelers). Perhaps the ecoboost motors are not an optimal implementation but there are plenty of good turbos of legendary reliability out there (not just the diesels either) just as there are plenty of V8's that are best utilized in marine an anchor. I wonder if supercharging may see a comeback? I ran a supercharger on my 1.6 Miata and it was a very different experience from the turbo Miatas I drove.

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    • Art  Vandelay Art Vandelay on May 22, 2013

      @Hummer I knew a guy with a twin turbo LT-1 in a 4th gen Camaro. Have your cake and eat it too! You have to get the tuning right. I had a Mazdaspeed Miata with a factory turbo and it wasn't near as good as some of the well sorted aftermarket set ups. The turbos themselves arent really all that expensive nowadays if they are not something crazy exotic but yes, they are certainly capable of failing in a manner that can cause some expensive collateral damage. Course this is Ford...who brought us the Catalytic convertor that can fail and destroy your motor in a similar manner back on the SHO. I am a Ford guy, but I'll probably not buy one of these first gen ecoboost models unless I just have to have a full-size truck.

  • TW4 TW4 on May 21, 2013

    Except for the vaunted American small-block V8, which is an enduring engineering marvel, I'm not particularly concerned with the number of cylinders. To me, engines are all about the visceral attributes, like sound and feel, and I'm not particularly troubled if a manufacturer wishes to reduce costs and complexity by reducing the cylinder count. I-3s are similar in sound and feel (if properly balanced) to their I-6 cousins. V4 mini-blocks (see: Motus motorcycles) are similar to their small-block V8 cousins. And so on and so forth. At least 1 major manufacturers produces an I-2 for production. Three or four manufacturers build triples, and several still produce I-5s. As long as customers have diverse engine options, all will be well. Once upon a time, the manufacturers had enough pride to develop a vehicle concept, including engine layout, and stick with it b/c they believed it was best. If all manufacturers adopt I-4 toasters, what does that say about the car industry?