When word of more stringent CAFE standards broke, the automotive world let out a collective gasp. Could new regulations spell the end of the V8? Will America's lust for more powerful vehicles be fulfilled with six-cylinder powerplants from here on out? Many automakers immediately responded by announcing plans to move away from the V8 and towards downsized-mills with turbo support. This move was applauded by many as a great method for improving gas mileage without sacrificing power, but others felt that their beloved V8 engines would die a slow death.
Much to the relief of V8 aficionados, automakers remain committed to V8 technology and will postpone the funeral ceremonies until some other time. General Motors recently invested $893 million to upgrade one of its plants to build new all-aluminum V8s. Dean Guard, GM's chief engineer and program manager for small-block V8 engines, said the investment, "Speaks volumes on the fact that General Motors believes for the foreseeable future that the V8 plays a critical role in our gasoline engine lineup." Along with GM, Ford envisions a future with V8 power as well. As Ford spokesman Said Deep remarked, "V8s are going to be smaller, more powerful and weigh less, and they will be in vehicles where customers expect a V8."
What gives? We were almost certain that many V8s would be on the chopping block as new emissions standards roll in. Were we wrong? Well, yes and no. Some V8 engines will disappear, but with the introduction of Ford's 5.0-liter, 412 horsepower, 26 miles per gallon-rated engine found in the 2011 Mustang, it became evident that V8s can be powerful and less thirsty. But that's not the only reason V8s will stay around. As it turns out, downsized turbo engines don't always live up to the high mpg expectations. As David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Automotive Test Division told Automotive News, "A turbo does well on the EPA cycle, but in real-world driving conditions, sometimes a larger-displacement engine gives almost the same fuel economy and much smoother driving." So, the V8 will live on, albeit with a newfound focus on increased efficiency.