Volvo engine

Pop the hood on a Volvo of recent vintage and you'll find four-, five-, six- and even eight-cylinder engines. But the Swedish automaker is downsizing its engines over the coming years. The new XC90, set to be revealed later this week, will use a new family of four-cylinder engines (like the one pictured above). But that's not even the end of it as emerging reports speak of a new three-cylinder engine family in the works.

The new 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine will, according to reports, help Volvo further cut its carbon emissions in line with constricting regulations in markets like Europe and Australia. There won't be quite as many versions as the four-cylinder range, which will include gasoline and diesel versions in varying states of tune, but the three-pot motor is tipped to be employed in vehicles as large as the S60 and its stablemates. Larger than that, however, and the three-cylinder engine apparently just doesn't have the necessary torque.

Expect the new three-cylinder engine to be introduced sometime later this decade, after the four-cylinder's introduction in 2016. The three-cylinder engine is also set to form the building block of an even more efficient hybrid propulsion system in the future, enabling this new engine family to stay relevant through 2025.