Are Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Motors Really Better Than The V6s They Replaced?

Illustration for article titled Are Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Motors Really Better Than The V6s They Replaced?
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As Jalopnik’s resident car-buying expert and a professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve picked a few of your questions and will try to help out. This week we are discussing turbo motors replacing V6s and why Audi would advertise a lower eTron lease price in some areas of the country.


First up, are the turbocharged 4-cylinder replacements for V6 motors really better?

I currently drive a 2014 Acura RDX that I truly love to drive. The six-cylinder engine has plenty of power from the start and plenty of passing power when needed. Almost all current comparable SUV’s now come with a four cylinder turbo. Why car companies changed, I don’t know. It’s not for fuel efficiency, at best they get 1-2 mpg better. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I just don’t trust the four-cylinder turbo to perform as I like or to last as long as the old V6. Where am I wrong?

You aren’t necessarily “wrong” to prefer the bigger V6 over the turbo engines, but automakers have shifted in the direction of smaller engines with forced induction because in controlled conditions they can get better fuel economy. In the real world, that actual fuel economy difference may not be that big. Depending on the application, the often lighter turbocharged motors can offer similar or better acceleration compared to a V6. For example, MotorTrend tested a 2013 RDX V6, measuring the sprint to 60 mph at 6.3 seconds. The same magazine recorded a 6.4 second 0-60 for the four-cylinder 2020 model. That’s close enough to not really be perceptible for most people. Also, keep in mind that the 2020 model is bigger and about 300 lbs heavier. Slightly better fuel economy and acceleration that is practically the same in a larger car seems like an improvement to me.

As for long-term reliability, this has more to do with individual brands and models than the motors themselves. There will certainly be some examples where the V6 will last longer than the turbo motors and vice-versa. That being said, I don’t see the trend of downsizing V6 motors to turbocharged-four cylinder engines reversing any time soon.

Next up, why would Audi advertise a lease on a new e-tron $120 cheaper for the same car in a different area of the country?

“I live in Colorado and I am interested in leasing an Audi e-tron. On Audi’s website the advertised special is $599 per month, for 36 months with $4493 due at signing. However the brand is advertising the same car in Virginia for $478/mo with the same terms. Neither offer includes tax and fees. What’s up with that price difference?”


There could be two things going on here. First, Audi might be including a state tax credit within that offer for Virginia that is bringing down the payment. The more likely possibility is that Audi is applying more dealer-cash rebates to the Virginia area versus Colorado. This happens all the time. Brands will target their rebates to regions that are more competitive. It’s likely that the demand for e-trons in CO is higher, which means the extra discount may bot be needed to move them.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at!

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (



Downsize turbo is great for high elevations but they don't deliver on their economy promises in my opinion, especially around town.