I don’t like downsize turbo engines, I think they are a ploy to trick the EPA and stick the consumer with a good performing engine that gets lousy mileage and occasionally blow themselves up. That being said they are really good at one thing: Low down power!
What cars NEED that power down low? Anything that purports to be off road ready. Torque at the wheels is everything off-road, in the past folks would solve that issue with a transfer case with low range reduction gearing that would double (or more) the effective power output of the engine at low speeds but who does that anymore? Especially in the crossover space - one car the Jeep KL - and thats it.
Here are a list of cars with off road ambitions but don’t actually have it where it counts.
Renegade trailhawk - I still can’t figure out why the ONLY engine in this quasi off-roader is the tigershark 2.4. For one, there already IS a turbo engine option for this vehicle. Sure the 2.4 has 180 hp versus the 1.4T’s 160 hp, but the 1.4t has 4 more Lbs-ft of torque, at at way lower peaks (2500 rpm vs 3900 rpm). Thats 15% more power where it REALLY needs it, at torque converter stall speeds. And thats still with the wimpy 1.4. If you put in a smaller version of the hurricane engine (say, 1.6 liters tuned for regular) you would really have something that could put that 20:1 gearing advantage to use. The transmission I know can handle that kind of torque input. Could you even imagine a 200 hp 225 lbs-ft 1.6 Renegade trail-hawk? That thing would be great!
Subaru XV - Here I tell you something that will sting a little...This is the 2019 Cherokee XJ. I don’t mean its a worthy successor, I mean its taken its place in the market for those people who want a civilized vehicle that suits their outdoor life. No, it will never be the same animal in the hardcore scene but this is the official vehicle of dressing up in outdoor garb and escaping the urban jungle and its pathetic underneath. an NA 2.0 with, well, SOME power. yawn. It doesn’t help that the crawl ratio is even worse than the above Jeep. Sure brake based traction control is a WONDERFUL tool for making the best use of traction but remember it ABSORBS wheel torque meaning you trade traction for power and when you don’t have a lot to start with...you’re going to have a bad time.
Again these are the people that are GOOD at turbo engines and they already MAKE the perfect little engine for this buggy in the FB16 DIT. at 168 hp its not a huge upgrade to the stock 152 (still useful though) but it has 184 lbs-ft at 1800 rpm! compare that to 145 @ 4000 and weep. THIS is the reason the XV feels so stupidly, dangerously slow. My Cruiser is slower by far than the XV to 60 but it makes more hp running the ac at idle than this 2.0 makes at its peak, as a consequence it feels quicker around town and, more importantly for our discussion, can actually go places that require high power at low speeds...even without low range engaged.
There are 2 cars that people are BEGGING Subaru turbocharge, one is the BRZ which...no, btw...the other is this. Unlike the BRZ there is no excuse here for “but ma turbo packaging!” because the FA20 turbo and EJ25 turbo both fit in this same chassis. So knock it off Subaru and put a turbo in it already. Hell just do an XV XT and be done with it.
I mean there are others that I would say could benefit from a turbo engine, but these are the ones I deem most in need. What say you?