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Old 01-16-2012, 03:03 PM #1
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Turbo Vs Non Turbo Car Reliability

I'm looking to purchase a car and am wondering if I should get the turbo version or non turbo version. I plan on keeping the car for 100,000+ miles. Is there a major difference between the two as far as reliability goes or are they now about the same?
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Old 01-16-2012, 03:38 PM #2
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Is this a new car or a used one?? Which car are you looking at?

Small displacement engines + Turbos seems to be the fashion thing these days...supposedly fuel economy of a small engine but power of a bigger one. If you're buying a new car, then i guess that the turbos should be OK given that every manufacturer is currently or will be using turbos. Turbos have been around for a while now in diesels...and they seemingly do well over the long haul.

BUT, to be honest, i still prefer NA engines with direct injection and DOHC.
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:41 PM #3
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Thai, the car is a Buick Verano. The one out right now is the non turbo version, has about 180hp. Next year the turbo version will be released with around 220hp. What kind of maintenance do the turbo cars need?
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:00 PM #4
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both of my roommates last year had the turbo versions of the vw jetta and if one wasnt broken then the other was....
with that said i hear the subarus with the turbos are pretty reliable, but dont know anyone with one.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:32 PM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hulk311 View Post
Thai, the car is a Buick Verano. The one out right now is the non turbo version, has about 180hp. Next year the turbo version will be released with around 220hp. What kind of maintenance do the turbo cars need?
Turbo cars don't need any more maintenance than a NA car. A lot of people (even most manufactures) suggest shorter oil change intervals and a little higher oil quality. But I wouldn't let that deter me from a turbo car.

If you are buying new, reliability is the same as any new car. If you take care of it, it will take care of you. I would be hard pressed to ever by a used one unless I knew the history very well. There are just more things to go wrong with a poorly maintained turbo vehicle than a NA.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:34 PM #6
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Thai, the car is a Buick Verano. The one out right now is the non turbo version, has about 180hp. Next year the turbo version will be released with around 220hp. What kind of maintenance do the turbo cars need?
Verano is a very interesting car...basically a luxury version of Chevy Cruze with a bigger engine. I like the concept of it, but i fear that the pricing is too high. Acura is doing the same thing next year with the Civic ("luxury Integra").

I don't know...for $27k for a loaded Verano, it is still missing some things, such as memory seating, no HIDs, manual recline (WTF?!!), Homelink??, etc..

For just a bit more (prob under $2k), you can get an Acura TSX, which is slightly bigger (roomier), sportier, more power, Honda reliability, and have all those things mentioned above. The base TSX does not have a fancy stereo system, but i doubt the BOSE system in the Verano is any special. Of course, for under $4-5k more, you can get the top notch TSX with TECH pkg which comes with a mind-blowing stereo system, decent NAVI with rear view camera.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:37 PM #7
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suggest shorter oil change intervals and a little higher oil quality. But I wouldn't let that deter me from a turbo car.
Since most new cars nowadays use ultra-thin synthetic from factory to improve fuel economy, this is not a big deal anymore.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:50 AM #8
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I personally don't recommend turbos unless you are an enthusiast that will be very, very strict with maintenance. You are adding a lot of heat and pressure under the hood. With heat and pressure comes stress. With stress comes higher potential for failure.

I also think that the EPA testing standards are more lenient on small displacement, turbocharged engines while it doesn't necessarily match up in the real world. For example:

Model :: 0-60 :: 1/4 mi :: City :: Hwy :: 150mi :: EPA City :: EPA Hwy
Sonata Turbo :: 6.6 :: 15.5 :: 18 :: 34 :: 30 :: 22 :: 33
Camry V6 XLE :: 6.4 :: 14.8 :: 17 :: 37 :: 32 :: 21 :: 30

Basically, the V6 Camry outperforms it in every way in CR's testing except for the CR city number (by 1mpg), and yet the EPA numbers are better on the Sonata. I personally don't think turbos are a good fit for cars focused on fuel economy. On a performance car, though, turbos are pretty damn awesome.
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Old 01-17-2012, 08:49 AM #9
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I also think that the EPA testing standards are more lenient on small displacement, turbocharged engines while it doesn't necessarily match up in the real world. For example:

Model :: 0-60 :: 1/4 mi :: City :: Hwy :: 150mi :: EPA City :: EPA Hwy
Sonata Turbo :: 6.6 :: 15.5 :: 18 :: 34 :: 30 :: 22 :: 33
Camry V6 XLE :: 6.4 :: 14.8 :: 17 :: 37 :: 32 :: 21 :: 30

Basically, the V6 Camry outperforms it in every way in CR's testing except for the CR city number (by 1mpg), and yet the EPA numbers are better on the Sonata. I personally don't think turbos are a good fit for cars focused on fuel economy. On a performance car, though, turbos are pretty damn awesome.
The problem with CR is that the fuel economy comparison b/w vehicles is not done on the same day with the same driver etc.. I know that they use the same route and so on, but, scientifically, the result is invalid because there are still too many variables left unaccounted for.

EPA, on the other hand, is done under controlled laboratory conditions where variables are accounted for. So, in this case, the numbers can be used to compare b/w the vehicles. Whether it reflects real life or not, i don't know. But, if you have the same driver on the same day and on the same route, i still believe that EPA fuel economy differences will prevail.

From my experience with my NA cars, EPA is pretty accurate. Even in my Prius, the EPA numbers are pretty accurate...and i consider myself a "normal" driver...in other words, i don't go out of my way to conserve gas nor do i have a lead foot.

For turbos, i am getting mixed feedback. Edmunds got horrible gas mileage on the Chevy Cruze with 1.4 turbo powertrain and automatic. My brother's Cruze with 1.4 turbo powertrain and 6-MT is getting amazing mileage!! On the highway, he is easily hitting 44 mpg AVERAGE from Austin to Houston on the computer! He drives at 70 mph. Overall, since owning the car (at least 700 miles i think), he is averaging around 37 mpg (city and hwy mix)!! (There is a 5% difference in the computer reading to real life.) Even with the real life adjustment, my brother's Cruze is getting near hybrid mileage, certainly on par with midsize hybrid sedans! I think that Edmunds' Cruze is a 2010 model...and my brother is a 2012 model. I read that Chevy is making small changes on the assembly line since 2010 to improve fuel economy.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:03 AM #10
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The problem with CR is that the fuel economy comparison b/w vehicles is not done on the same day with the same driver etc.. I know that they use the same route and so on, but, scientifically, the result is invalid because there are still too many variables left unaccounted for.

EPA, on the other hand, is done under controlled laboratory conditions where variables are accounted for. So, in this case, the numbers can be used to compare b/w the vehicles. Whether it reflects real life or not, i don't know. But, if you have the same driver on the same day and on the same route, i still believe that EPA fuel economy differences will prevail.

From my experience with my NA cars, EPA is pretty accurate. Even in my Prius, the EPA numbers are pretty accurate...and i consider myself a "normal" driver...in other words, i don't go out of my way to conserve gas nor do i have a lead foot.

For turbos, i am getting mixed feedback. Edmunds got horrible gas mileage on the Chevy Cruze with 1.4 turbo powertrain and automatic. My brother's Cruze with 1.4 turbo powertrain and 6-MT is getting amazing mileage!! On the highway, he is easily hitting 44 mpg AVERAGE from Austin to Houston on the computer! He drives at 70 mph. Overall, since owning the car (at least 700 miles i think), he is averaging around 37 mpg (city and hwy mix)!! (There is a 5% difference in the computer reading to real life.) Even with the real life adjustment, my brother's Cruze is getting near hybrid mileage, certainly on par with midsize hybrid sedans! I think that Edmunds' Cruze is a 2010 model...and my brother is a 2012 model. I read that Chevy is making small changes on the assembly line since 2010 to improve fuel economy.
The problem with the EPA's numbers is the fact that they run the car on a flat treadmill through a prescribed start, speed up, slow down, stop, speed up, slow down, stop, rinse, repeat pattern that only runs 11 miles. Throw up enough OD gears and 'early shift' logic and this test is easily sandbagged.

The fact is that the EPA doesn't test most vehicles. They send the pattern to the manufacturers who can then tweak shiftpoints, gear ratios, etc to match that known pattern. This is why I like reviewing the CR numbers. The manufacturers aren't tweaking their vehicles to that test. To me, the EPA method is like giving students the test, letting them go home and figure out the answers, and then come take the test. CR buys their cars off the lot and runs them through their battery of tests and you get are testing the car in a scenario that it wasn't tweaked and massaged for. It might be different days, different drivers, but I'd say that CR takes measures to ensure that their testers keep that as uniform as possible. Certainly not invalid.

That is great that your brother is getting good gas mileage. The Cruze eco also has 3 overdrive gears, low rolling resistance tires, and all sorts of aero aids (shuttered grille vents, belly pan, etc). It should be getting 37mpg, especially if he lives somewhere relatively flat (sounds like he does driving austin to houston). He'd probably get or beat the EPA ratings in most vehicles because his driving pattern sounds like it is pretty ideal.

My point is that the turbocharged engine isn't solely responsible for that gas mileage. Especially considering he does so much 70mph driving, the OD gears and aero aids do a lot more than the engine that only needs to pump out 30hp or so to keep it moving. It can easily do that off boost. Back to my point about turbochargers not really providing much gas mileage benefit, lets compare CR's Cruze 1.8L v 1.4T numbers.

Model :: 0-60 :: 1/4mi :: City :: Hwy :: 150mi :: EPA City :: EPA Hwy
1.8L,6AT :: 10.5 :: 18.0 :: 17 :: 36 :: 34 :: 22 :: 35
1.4T,6AT :: 9.8 :: 17.6 :: 17 :: 36 :: 35 :: 24 :: 36

For all practical purposes, the cars return the same numbers with the 1.4T being marginally faster and marginally more efficient. If I'm recommending a car for my mom, I'm going to say that the 1.8L is the better buy because it costs less up front, returns practically the same numbers, and has a far less complex engine. If I'm buying for performance, I'm not buying a Cruze. ;)

Just to show why EPA numbers alone aren't sufficient, lets pull in the Civic and Corolla...
Model :: 0-60 :: 1/4mi :: City :: Hwy :: 150mi :: EPA City :: EPA Hwy
Civic EX :: 10.1 :: 17.8 :: 18 :: 43 :: 37 :: 28 :: 39
Corolla LE :: 9.9 :: 17.6 :: 23 :: 40 :: 39 :: 27 :: 35

That is a wildly mixed bag when you look at all the numbers. The 4AT Corolla returns fantastic city numbers while the Civic has great highway numbers... except for the 150 mi trip where things tend to even out. If you do a lot of city driving, just going by the EPA numbers would say that the Civic is the way to go, but the CR numbers say that the Corolla is the superior car.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:46 AM #11
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The problem with the EPA's numbers is the fact that they run the car on a flat treadmill through a prescribed start, speed up, slow down, stop, speed up, slow down, stop, rinse, repeat pattern that only runs 11 miles. Throw up enough OD gears and 'early shift' logic and this test is easily sandbagged.
For others who don't know the EPA test, here is the link: Detailed Test Information

Quentin is right about 11 mile test cycles, each for city and hwy driving. EPA also tests high speed cycles for 8 miles as high as 80 mph. In addition, they test with the A/C system ON at various speeds, cold engine start, etc. It is a pretty exhaustive analysis.

Now, obviously, EPA can't test every single car out there. EPA randomly selects 10-15% of the production cars to confirm the results done by manufacturers. This is why you do see corrections made thru the model years. For example, the Camry Hybrid (prior gen) initially had a fuel economy of 33/35 or something like that. I think that in 2010 or so, EPA changed it to 30/34 (or around there).

Whether Chevy chooses to use 3-OD gears or not is not the point...because it is not like Chevy use 3-OD gears for the EPA testing and then change transmission after the testing for production vehicles. Everything that Chevy used on the Cruze ECO to get the EPA numbers is used in the production car. And talking with my brother, he thoroughly enjoys driving his Cruze ECO, even with 3 OD gears...so, it is not a big compromise as you say it is. As for the air intake mod etc...who cares?! It works! Low resist tires are now becoming the norm on ALL new cars, not just the specialized eco cars.

As for the 1.4 vs. 1.8 Cruze argument, you get slightly better fuel economy with the 1.4 AND more power. Over half a second is a big deal from 0-60. Not only that, you get more power down low vs. a NA 1.8 4-banger. Having your cake and eating it too!

As for the Civic vs. Corolla, because CR picks cars off the lot, the minor differences could be due to production variables, weather condition on that day, humidity, driver, etc.. Give me a Civic and a Corolla, fresh off the production line, on the same day and i would bet that the Civic would win most of the time.

Sandbagging to me is when a manufacturer uses specialized modifications just for the EPA testing and then does something totally different with actual production vehicles. THAT is sandbagging it. And if this does occur, then i am sure that EPA/NHTSA will hear about it from consumers...and soon enough, EPA will do confirmatory testing. Some may bring up the Mustang V6. Yes, if you get a base Mustang V6, then you will get the fuel economy rating. Now, Ford also offers more aggressive gearing that will lower EPA...but this is optional...therefore, i would not call this sandbagging either. Or the Ford Fusion. Yes, in "normal" driving, the Fusion and Camry Hybrid (previous gen) get similar mileage. HOWEVER, the EPA also takes into account city mileage capability...and there is no denying that the Fusion can run on pure electric mode to a higher speed than Camry Hybrid. Thus, EPA reflects this.
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Old 01-17-2012, 10:53 AM #12
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But, getting back on topic, i think that the Verano is overpriced for what it is...and for what it does NOT offer at THAT price.
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:37 PM #13
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I guess we have different definitions of sandbagging. ;) To me, it is setting the car up for a certain test for marketing purposes (i.e. ticking off checkboxes on a spec sheet) instead of making the best choices for cost, drivability, real world economy, and reliability. It feels like more and more, automakers are ticking items off a spec sheet. Not to say that is a bad decision for a business. People buy based on spec sheets.

The reason I brought this up in the first place is that so many people discount a car based on not having a 6AT or not having rear disc brakes when those decisions may have had good engineering behind them. It is mostly cheap cars that suffer for this line of thinking because you get a 6AT, but possibly a poor shifting, unreliable one or disc brakes that go through pads and rotors all the time because the OEM had to use bargain basement suppliers to hit cost targets instead of using a reliable, long lasting, effective drum brake.

This is particularly prevalent in the mountain biking world. Marketing has shown that people want disc brakes. So now you can't buy an inexpensive bike without disc brakes. Inexpensive bike = inexpensive disc brakes = garbage, unreliable brakes. A good set of rim brakes will be far more reliable, cheaper, and effective than a similarly priced, junky set of disc brakes. Of course, if you drop $300 on hydraulic disc brakes, which is what a cheap complete bike goes for, you get amazing brakes. But that buyer that only spent $500 on his bike ends up getting a worse bike than what was available 8 years ago because marketing is driving the decision making.

Basically, this all comes from my engineering OCD where better specs don't automatically mean a better system. Sometimes, especially when you are talking about inexpensive cars, simple is the best way to go for what the customer truly needs.

/rant
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:08 PM #14
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I guess we have different definitions of sandbagging. ;) To me, it is setting the car up for a certain test for marketing purposes (i.e. ticking off checkboxes on a spec sheet) instead of making the best choices for cost, drivability, real world economy, and reliability. It feels like more and more, automakers are ticking items off a spec sheet.
/rant
Lets see...a Chevy Cruze (near midsize) with over 60% in high tensile steel resulting in 3100 lbs of weight and top notch crash scores...yet gets 42 mpg...and you call that not making good choices!! At first, like you i was skeptical, but with my brother's Cruze Eco giving amazing REAL WORLD economy, i am amazed! His Eco was around $18k out the door with convience pkg. Now, reliability is a big issue...that i agree. But, Chevy claimed that the Cruze has been thoroughly tested for tons of miles. Of course, that did not help when my brother was stranded on the side of the road due to a defective PCM. He did get a free ext. warranty out of it. And to be honest, the PCM failing is probably one of those things that occur out of the blue because i did GOOGLE it and found no issue with PCM failing for the Cruze.

I agree with you that rear drum brakes are OK on an econobox...low maintenance. But, i still disagree with you somewhat that the new cars are junk due to "ticking the spec sheet." The results from ticking the spec sheet can be seen in the fuel economy, the performance tests, the safety tests, etc.. The new Cruze, for example, rides really damn well...and handles pretty good too. I think that Chevy advertises that it is as quiet as a Lexus...and it is real close IMO because i have both a Cruze and 2010 ES350 in family. REAL world? These are as REAL world as they come IMO!!
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Old 01-17-2012, 01:16 PM #15
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A good set of rim brakes will be far more reliable, cheaper, and effective than a similarly priced, junky set of disc brakes. Of course, if you drop $300 on hydraulic disc brakes, which is what a cheap complete bike goes for, you get amazing brakes. But that buyer that only spent $500 on his bike ends up getting a worse bike than what was available 8 years ago because marketing is driving the decision making.
/rant
The difference is that with only $300, you can upgrade the factory disc brakes to something that will blow away the top rim brakes 8 years ago!!

Take the Tacoma. It has rear drum brakes. To make it good, you got to spend tons of money to convert it to rear disc brakes...a BIGGIE in my opinion in an off-road truck. Tons of money (e.g. labor)!

I am sure that if Toyota put rear disc brakes, then it won't be Brembro good. However, for A LOT less money than above (rear drum --> disc conversion), you can easily upgrade the current disc brakes to something better quickly.

What is there not to love?
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