Back in 2007, models equipped with four-cylinder engines represented just 23 percent of Chevrolet's retail sales in the U.S. Back then, both V6- and V8-powered Chevy models outsold the four banger, but now we're well into 2011, and the tide has turned.

So far this year, Chevy models equipped with four-cylinder mills have accounted for 46 percent of the automaker's total retail sales, making the fuel-efficient four the top seller in Chevrolet's engine lineup. Rick Scheidt, vice president of Chevrolet, says that the automaker's "investment in advanced engine technology is reflected in the increased popularity of our four-cylinder models." Schiedt claims that these technologies allow modern-day four-cylinder engines to "offer the performance and refinement drivers expect from Chevy" while delivering the fuel efficiency that some of today's buyers demand.

General Motors says that most buyers that opt for a four-cylinder equipped model are downsizing from crossovers and cars with V6 engines and moving into models like the Cruze, Malibu and Equinox.

[Source: General Motors]
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Consumers Moving to Fuel-efficient 4-Cylinder Engines

Smaller engines account for 46 percent of Chevrolet retail sales, up from 23 percent in 2007


2011-03-16

DETROIT – Consumer demand for fuel efficiency and advancements in engine technology have moved four-cylinder models to the top of consumers' shopping lists.

In 2007, four-cylinder models represented 23 percent of Chevrolet retail sales in the United States, less than either V-6 or V-8 equipped models. So far this year that number has increased to 46 percent, making fuel-efficient four-cylinder engines the top choice in the Chevrolet lineup.

"Chevrolet's investment in advanced engine technology is reflected in the increased popularity of our four-cylinder models," said Rick Scheidt, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet. "These technologies offer the performance and refinement drivers expect from Chevy in smaller engines that deliver the fuel efficiency they want."

Customers are moving out of V-8 powered SUVs into V-6 powered crossovers like the Traverse, and from V-6 powered cars and crossovers into fuel-efficient four-cylinder models, such as Cruze, Malibu, and Equinox, he said.

"The shift in consumer preference evidenced by Chevrolet's lineup is a great example of how much four-cylinder engines have improved across the industry," said Bill Visnic, analyst and senior editor for Edmunds AutoObserver.com. "Four cylinders used to be something to settle for. But advances in engine design and technology have made four-cylinder engines vastly more refined, and power output has increased to where V-6 engines were just a few years ago."

Here are three examples of how Chevrolet is applying technology to improve the performance, refinement, and fuel efficiency of its four-cylinder line:

Turbocharging helps Chevrolet Cruze Eco deliver 42 mpg highway

The Cruze is available with turbocharged, Ecotec 1.4L four-cylinder engine that combines the fuel efficiency of a small engine with the power of a much larger engine when needed. The turbocharged engine delivers 138 horsepower and 148 pound feet of torque and up to 42 miles per gallon on the highway for Cruze Eco models – more than any other gasoline-powered car in the United States.

By comparison, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE featured a larger 2.2 liter four-cylinder, with nearly identical output at 148 horsepower and 152 lb-ft of torque, but five fewer miles per gallon on the highway.

The 1.4L, turbocharged engine will also be used in the all-new Chevrolet Sonic, which will arrive at U.S. dealers this fall.

Variable Valve Timing helps Chevrolet Malibu deliver 33 mpg highway

The Malibu features an Ecotec 2.4L four-cylinder engine, with variable valve timing that precisely adjusts the opening and closing of the engine valves to meet demand. The result improves performance and fuel economy for the Malibu, with 170 horsepower, 160 lb-ft of torque, and an EPA estimated 33 miles per gallon on the highway.

Variable valve timing is featured on 12 Chevrolets, including the Camaro, Volt, Cruze and Silverado.

Direct injection helps Chevrolet Equinox reach 32 mpg highway

The Equinox also features an Ecotec 2.4L engine, with both variable valve timing and direct injection. Compared to traditional fuel-injection, direction injection sprays fuel directly into the cylinder – enabling more precise fuel delivery for improved performance, fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions.

In the Equinox, the direct-injection 2.4L Ecotec is rated at 182 horsepower, and 172 lb.-ft. of torque, while delivering an EPA-estimated 32 mpg highway – more than any vehicle in its class, including the Ford Escape Hybrid. By comparison, the previous-generation 2008 Equinox had a 3.4L V-6 that delivered a comparable 185 horsepower and 210 lb.-ft. of torque with24 mpg highway.

Direct injection is also available on the Camaro V-6, the Equinox V-6, and the Traverse crossover.

About Chevrolet

Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 130 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly to gas-free" solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended range. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.

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