Posts Tagged ‘performance’


Eight on the floor and four under the hood, baby! Wait!…..What?! Shouldn’t that be the other way around? Shouldn’t that be 4-on-the-floor? And 8 cylinders under the hood?

Not in today’s world of maximum fuel economy and even more maximum performance. The trend in engines today is that less is more. Fewer cylinders, providing more horsepower, better fuel economy and performance. Trucks that used to have V8 engines now have 6 cylinder and even 4 cylinder engines available. Ford’s top selling F-150 full sized pickup now has more trucks driving off the lot with 6 cylinder engines than with 8 cylinders. And the Ford Explorer that used to sport a 4.0 liter V8 has been replaced by a Ford Explorer offering a 2.0 liter turbo 4 cylinder. Technology that is available today is allowing automakers to produce 4 cylinder engines that can more than hold their own with the 6 and 8 cylinder engines of the 70’s through 90’s. Advancements in fuel injection, turbocharging, valve timing and camshaft phasing allows the small engines to perform like the big engines they compete with when necessary, but sip fuel just like or even better than the weaker 4 cylinders of yesteryear. The best of both times. So next time you hear someone say “Wow! I coulda had a V8!”, you’ll probably find that they are glad they didn’t.

But what about the transmission? Didn’t it used to be “4-on-the-floor”? Yes, but those times have changed, too. The 4 speed automatic has been replaced by the 5 speed automatic, which is being replaced by the 6 speed automatic. But sooner than you can start counting to 6 on the other hand, here come 8 speeds. BMW sedans and SUVs are available with 8 speeds today. Chrysler’s Ram Trucks will have 8 speeds next year, as will Chrysler and some Dodge cars. What’s the point? And where will it end?

Part of what makes the little 4 cylinder engines so good is that they are able to achieve peak torque (rotational force) at very low revolutions. Eight speed transmissions help make that happen. Having transmissions with more gears allows the engine to stay in a range where the torque is high and the car just feels better. Then, when the transmission is in its higher gear ranges and the engine is turning slower, but with high torque, the vehicle can achieve better fuel economy (lower engine speed) while maintaining a better driving feel (higher torque).

That’s enough on this subject, at least until next time, when we’ll discuss 3 cylinder engines and 9 speed transmissions…….Really?………Really!

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