Automakers have found themselves stuck between trying to please the Environmental Protection Agency and trying to make their loyal fans happy.
Take Ford, for example. The automaker’s newest Mustang can be had with a 4-cylinder engine for the first time since the early 1990s, but Ford didn’t add the small motor because it wanted to please devout Mustang fans. The automaker had to find a way to make the EPA happy and boost its fuel-economy numbers.
It’s a trend happening across the entire automotive industry and the reason why we’re seeing all-turbo Porsches and hybrid supercars.
Next on the casualty list is a 4-cylinder sure to anger rock hoppers and stump grinders across the U.S.
A source has told Automotive News that a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder under development by Fiat will first appear as an option on the next-generation Jeep Wrangler. The aluminum block engine is said to make about 300 hp.
CEO Sergio Marchionne has hinted that the next-generation Wrangler would have an optional four-cylinder to go with its new eight-speed automatic transmission. That would provide a significant fuel economy increase over the current Wrangler’s six-cylinder/five-speed automatic combination that yields just 17 mpg city/21 highway.
The new engine is one of several ways FCA plans to make the next-generation Wrangler, due to appear next year as a 2018 model, friendlier in the area of fuel consumption. We should see plenty of other engine choices join the lineup too, including an eventual diesel and hybrid, but a turbo four seems the most likely to appear as an early option. The capable Pentastar V6 should carry over as well.
The 4-banger should be great for people who use their Wranglers for commuting, but the serious off-roader will want an engine with a lot of low-end torque. High torque at low RPMs, combined with low-range gearing, will allow the vehicle to travel over some rough terrain while barely depressing the gas pedal. Generally, higher-displacement engines develop more torque, but small engines can spin faster, which increases their horsepower output.
That’s why people who buy Wranglers for their off-road prowess may want to skip the turbo 4 and get the V6, or wait for the diesel.