Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has repeatedly suggested that electrification would be a keystone trait of tomorrow’s automobiles. But he never sounds truly gleeful about the prospect, injecting the level of joy one might reserve when announcing that the trip to the grocery store after noticing spartan shelves in the kitchen. Kuniskis is aware that Dodge’s lineup caters heavily to automotive size queens and that its ability to manufacture those models is swiftly coming to a close.
Despite the former FCA giving the brand the go-ahead to manufacture V8-equipped behemoths like the Hellcat, the newly formed Stellantis auto group may be less inclined to continue those efforts and the freshly installed Biden administration seems wholly committed to doubling down on environmental regulations that were already at odds with high-output automobiles. Kuniskis typically stops short of discussing these issues as the death knell for automotive performance, suggesting instead that electrification will open new doors for the industry while closing a few others. But he occasionally issues statements hinting that he’s not quite so enthralled with or as hopeful about EVs as his contemporaries.
Let’s keep our minds far away from the gutter, folks. We may be talking inches today, but they’re cubic inches.
Yes, displacement, a unit of measurement that spans the gamut in today’s new vehicle lineups. Thanks to the advent of the subcompact crossover segment and the proliferation of big boy HD pickups, the breadth of displacement choice has only grown in recent years. General Motors can now sell you Chevrolets ranging from 1.2 to 6.6 liters, but Ford has them beat: 1.0 to 7.3 liters.
There’s plenty to choose from out there, but today we’re looking only in one direction.
Want a six-cylinder engine?
Don’t buy a two-door Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
For the 2018 model year, Mercedes-Benz will offer a S450 sedan with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. It’s not underpowered. 362 horsepower produce a claimed 0-60 miles per hour time of 5.1 seconds.
But sometimes, every now and then, in a handful of remaining instances, Mercedes-Benz evidently believes there is no replacement for displacement. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class coupe and cabriolet?
V8s and V12s only, thank you very much.
So I’m driving along the other day and I notice a badge on the tailgate of the latest Lincoln Navigator that says “EcoBoost.”
That’s right, folks: the giant, bold, shout-out-loud Lincoln Navigator is now using an EcoBoost engine. The V-8 is gone. The big, brawny, “look at me” V-8 rumble has disappeared. Lincoln has now dropped that stuff in favor of turbocharging.
It would be one thing if it were the MKZ, which is a midsize sedan that looks sort of like a woman’s shoe turned upside down. That thing is turbocharged, and nobody really seems to care. It’s just another car, in a sea of cars, looking to eek out the best possible fuel economy.
But the Navigator! The giant, truck-like Navigator. Lincoln’s answer to the Cadillac Escalade, even though it debuted before there was a Cadillac Escalade. The huge flagship model of the Lincoln lineup; something Lincoln drivers across the world aspire to own, from airport limousine drivers to Lincoln dealership owner spouses. It’s now turbocharged.
There’s no replacement for displacement? Sure, as long as you own an oil well. If you want to save gas, there are three ways to do it:
- Make the car as light as can be (you can’t fool Newton.)
- Use the smallest amount of displacement you get get away with, and make it up with direct injection, a turbocharger, and computer smarts.
- Combine 1 with 2.
And what’s the easiest way to reduce displacement? Lose cylinders. That way, you also lose a lot of internal friction. If “Laufkultur” is part of your vocabulary, don’t read further, you’ll get sick. If you want to sick it to Big Oil, by all means, read on.
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