Edmunds Answers



  • actualsize 05/22/08 10:09 am PST

    I used to own a 1983 Ford T-bird turbo coupe with a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder, and it had a few of the drawbacks you've probably heard from your buddies. The newer turbos are so much better.

    A lot of the cons of turbo engines of that era no longer apply, as the latest generation of them are quite good. They allow a smaller engine to produce more power when you need it, while still returning good fuel economy when you are cruising.

    Turbos (like my T-bird) used to have a pronounced lag before the power swelled, but low inertia turbos with variable geometry and electronically controlled boost curves no longer have this problem--they deliver power and torque across the entire rev range without delay. Most of the new systems are intercooled (the compressed air is cooled to become even denser so more of it will fit into the cylinder), so they're even more efficient than the older ones.

    Electronic engine controls have greatly incresed the reliability of turbo engines. The amount of boost is now tightly controlled to meet the requirements of the situation, in the same way that iginition and valve timing have been electronically controlled for quite awhile.

    And think about all of those 18-wheelers you see hauling freight every day. They've been turbocharged for years and years. And truckers can't afford downtime. If turbocharged engines had serious reliability problems, the trucking industry wouldn't use them. And all of those diesel cars you hear about in Europe and Asia (and there are a LOT of them)--they're virtually all turbo-diesels.

    If I liked the car and the price, I wouldn't hesitate if it were a turbo.

  • texases 05/22/08 10:21 am PST

    I generally agree with the above answer. Two things to keep in mind - the turbo 4 engines don't seem to give the higher economy some hope for, usually about the same as the competing v6s, so don't use that as a reason. Second, they are more complex that a v6, and you need to pay a bit more attention to scheduled maintenance which means a used one should have complete documents showing it was correctly maintained. Finally, drive it! You are the only one to decide if the added punch is worth the slight reduction in smoothness going from a v6 to a 4.

  • ljgbjg 05/22/08 2:25 pm PST

    One problem with earlier turbo charged engines was that you could not simply shut them off - you needed to let the car idle a minute to ensure you didn't cook the bearings. I believe most turbo chargers today have intercooling to prevent that. ABSOLUTELY MUST READ THE OWNERS MANUAL ON THIS. Other than that, they are basically exhaust driven fans that force induction, rather than a belt driven fan (supercharger) that does the same thing. For obvious reasons one has a lag and the other does not, the ultimate purpose of each to do the same thing - forced induction.

  • obyone 05/23/08 12:56 am PST

    Don't buy the turbo for a hilly region. The lag with annoy you kicking in and out of turbo mode going up and down the hills. Because it uses exhaust gases turbos are dirty unlike superchargers meaning more oil changes and more maintenance. I'd steer clear of them.

  • dominik_12 05/23/08 6:38 am PST

    I agree with Mr. Actual size!

    I've had 4 turbo cars and never a problem. One Conquest TSI, two Twin Turbo Stealths and one Volvo V50 T5. Unless you punch a turbo off the line at idle, you'll never know that it's a turbo ... where they REALLY shine is above 2k RPM. All have a different power curve but the newest have such electronic controls you'll never know the difference. Cooked bearings is a thing of the past. Most all manufacturers know to use oil AND water for cooling them. My TT Stealths had their own oil coolers!
    Believe you'll also find that in comparisons at higher speeds, you'll get better economy. My Twin Turbos got a low of 19MPG ... that mean LOTS of in town/commuter driving (D.C area) ... with an AVERAGE of 21 MPG. Cruising at 65 gets/got me 26+. The Volvo has averaged over 30MPG on trips. Here to OK netted me 33+ at 70MPH ... that's packed with luggage, tools, etc. I'd buy another GOOD turbo package in a heart-beat!



Top Scheduled Maintenance Experts View More

Rank Leader Points
1. MrShift@Edmunds 2960
2. karjunkie 2900
3. Stever@Edmunds 2215
4. texases 1300
5. zaken1 1085
6. morin2 1060
7. tony78 510