It’s been almost 20 years since General Motors released a vehicle with a three-cylinder gas engine, but the fuel-efficient motor is making a comeback in 2020 (and 2021) in the form of the Buick Encore GX and the Chevrolet Trailblazer, respectively.
Both the Buick and the Chevy will offer subcompact SUV buyers a choice between a standard 1.2-liter three-cylinder and an available 1.3-liter three-cylinder engine. Both options come equipped with a continuously variable transmission. Any model equipped with both the 1.3-liter motor and AWD will be matched with a nine-speed automatic transmission. GM states that drivers of the new three-cylinder models can expect up to 155 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, along with impressive fuel efficiency.
Three-cylinder motors offer drivers better fuel-efficiency and lower carbon emissions than their four-cylinder counterparts. The three-cylinders will include additional technologies like turbochargers, an electric wastegate, and an electric water pump to make up for the power loss of one less cylinder.
While three-cylinder engines are popular in foreign auto-markets, they are a rarity in the US. The last time GM offered a three-cylinder engine option was in its Chevy Metro, back in 2000. Both the Encore GX and the Trailblazer are likely to be built in GM’s Mexico plant that produces the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain.
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