QOTD: Feeling Underwhelmed?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd feeling underwhelmed

A very minor occurrence nudged my brain in this direction. One the way home from nowhere last night, a cop lit himself up like a Christmas tree in order to blow a light, his 3.7-liter V6 screaming as it strained to move the Police Interceptor Utility’s bulk with something approaching alacrity.

Which got me to thinking about the previous-generation Explorer and its platform mate, the defunct Lincoln MKT — both of which offered a 2.0-liter four-cylinder for a time. And from that, a question formed. What specific vehicles would you call under-engined?

In some cases, this will apply only to certain configurations of certain models. Like the examples mentioned above. The 2.0L Ecoboost experiment in the Explorer was over after 2015; the 240-horse mill disappeared in favor of a more potent 2.3-liter Ecoboost for those who shunned standard six-cylinder power. In the whale-like MKT, the 235-horse 2.0L was only available to fleet buyers of the livery special MKT Town Car, which came only in front-drive guise with that powerplant under hood.

Seems like an awful lot of car to pull along with an engine that’s good enough (but nothing special) in an MKC, but that’s just one way of looking at it. While the loaded, AWD MKT with 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 tipped the scales at a hair under 5,000 pounds, the front-drive 3.7-liter model came in at a slightly more svelte 4,700 lbs. Ditch the V6 and the 2.0L MKT Town Car may have come in a not insignificant amount below that (I can’t seem to find a specific curb weight for this rare configuration).

In contrast, a loaded AWD MKC 2.0L weighed 4,000 lbs. Suddenly the MKT doesn’t seem like such a gross mismatch for this engine. Drop that engine’s output by half and sling it into a 2,300 lb economy car and you’d have, say, 118 hp and 130 lb-ft on tap to move that modest bulk. Seems adequate, doesn’t it? At least by 1990s (or even 2000s) standards, anyway.

Other examples of arguably under-engined cars include the likes of the hugely expensive and tech-laden BMW i8, with its 1.5-liter three-banger and limited recharging abilities under a heavy throttle, and such dissimilar rides as the Chrysler R-bodies of the Carter-Reagan handover era. An asphyxiated 85 hp Slant Six moving a full-size Newport or St. Regis? Ooof. Young street hockey players would have plenty of time to scatter — and maybe even prepare a snack at home — if they heard that thing winding up at the end of the block. In that case, it isn’t so much the displacement that’s the problem, it’s just the dismal output borne of EPA meddling.

Anyone old enough to recall old, non-sporting British imports is probably raising their hand at the back of class right now, squeaking out “Oh! Oh! Oh!”, so we’ll allow it, so long as they were once sold on North American soil. The same goes for any other vehicle that came from abroad.

There’s years and decades from which to choose, so get cracking. Which make and model was a total mismatch for at least one of its available engines?

[Image: Lincoln]

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2 of 74 comments
  • Schurkey Schurkey on Jun 11, 2020

    Every vehicle ever made with an Olds Diesel. Every air-cooled VW ever made. Every vehicle ever cursed with an Iron Duke. Every vehicle ever made that came with a Dynaflow Almost every vehicle with a Powerglide. Honda Civic CVCC 1300 Anything French except the SM and R5 Turbo.

  • ShoogyBee ShoogyBee on Jun 11, 2020

    The current Audi A6 with the base 2.0T engine. No bueno.

  • Kcflyer Laughing inside at the "300 mile range when it's warm" line. Can you imagine if ICE vehicles were this comprised? What a sick joke the green agenda is.
  • SPPPP I have owned multiple Ford vehicles in the past, but I don't want anything they make now. Ford's product planning shows they don't want my business, so I guess the breakup is mutual.
  • Tassos First of all the Ampera is just the rebadged Bolt for EUrope.Second of all, the seller is dreaming if he thinks a used Bolt with 46k miles will sell for... $6k MORE than a BRAND NEW US BOLT (after the still valid $7,500 tax credit). I can buy a new one for barely more than $18k. What is the idiot smoking????
  • MaintenanceCosts I own a 2019 Bolt Premier that's identical to this one except for the mods and I still wouldn't buy this one. Wheels are ugly, tint is illegally dark in my state, and a badge conversion to Opel, which GM doesn't even own anymore, is just plain dumb.
  • Verbal It is more about profit margins than market demand. Ford could easily sell a substantial number of this car in North America, but the profit margins would be thin. Ford makes money hand over fist on F-series, Broncos, etc. No need to venture out of the pickup/SUV/CUV box. The suburbs of America are filled with driveway queen F-150 air haulers that are the new Country Squires. Ford likes it that way.