Small displacement turbocharged engines promise the power of a larger engine with even better fuel economy, but are carmakers misleading buyers on the actual fuel economy benefits? Consumer Reports found that turbocharged cars got significantly worse fuel economy than their advertised ratings and underperformed compared to larger naturally aspirated engines.
The Ford Fusion’s (above) Ecoboost engines came under particular fire from Consumer Reports. The Fusion’s smallest engine, a 1.6-liter 175-hp mill that costs an extra $795, got 22-mpg in CR’s tests, 3-mpg less than the EPA rating. The Fusion’s performance option, the 2.0-liter Ecoboost, got 22-mpg in the Consumer Reports test, the worst in its class (the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry V6 models both beat their EPA 25-mpg ratings with 26-mpg observed). The Ecoboost Fusion’s 0-60-mph time of 7.4 seconds was worst in its class by 0.8 seconds.
Consumer Reports also found the Chevy Cruze, Ford F-150, BMW X3, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Dodge Dart, Ford Escape and Kia Sportage lacking. Most turbocharged vehicles got worse fuel economy than their naturally aspirated competitors, and those that did beat the NA cars didn’t do so by enough of a margin to justify the extra expense.
Now obviously, the advertised fuel economy will not match what you will get under all driving conditions and the Consumer Reports tests might be geared to favor a larger naturally aspirated engine over a small turbocharged one. The tests Consumer Reports does aren’t the same as the EPA tests, and if you take a look at the test results, you’ll see that most naturally aspirated engines got equal-to or better-than the EPA mileage while all turbo engines got worse.
Even with recent lawsuits over lies in fuel economy advertising, Caveat Emptor certainly applies to your car’s gas mileage and you owe it to yourself to do the appropriate research. If fuel economy is a major concern for you, take a long test drive and drive the car as you normally would. At the end of the test you’ll know if you’re happy with the car and the gas mileage.