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Turbocharged engine worth it?


Topic starter

Are turbocharged engines worth their money?

Clarification: Which vehicles are you considering? Not all manufacturer’s turbo engines are created equal, of course.

7 Answers

It depends.


Some older turbodiesels are in my opinion. Turbocharged petrols not really.

Scotty tells you more



For diesels, yes.  For my money it's not worth it when manufacturers put a turbo on a tiny engine when they should have put the correct size engine in the vehicle in the first place.

Why are turbos ok for diesel but not gas? My only guess is because diesels are usually built stronger that they can handle the forced induction better.

@kaizen correct


I'm afraid that's not a focused enough question to give you a straight answer.  If there is a specific vehicle you are looking at, you'll probably get better responses.


First of all, let's not talk about adding a turbo kit to a naturally aspirated motor.  That's an advanced question that depends on the application.

Pros & Cons:  Turbochargers increase efficiency and allow a smaller displacement engine for the same HP.  But real-world MPG (ie, not the EPA's funny numbers) is not usually much better than a naturally aspirated engine, and often offset by the need for premium fuel.  Turbos add to complexity and long term maintenance costs, though modern turbos are generally more reliable than in the old days.

But I think your question is more theoretical than practical.  Off the top of my head, I can't think of any cars that come with a turbo "option" for a specific motor.  Either it comes with a turbo or not.  There are certainly cars where you can choose between, say, a turbo-4 and a NA-6; there may be advantages to either, but it is not really an apples-to-apples comparison because the base engine is different.

Ironically, if anything, you more often have to pay up to get a naturally aspirated engine because they're bigger.  For example, if you look at the F150 Lariat, the base motor is a 2.7L turbo-6, and the NA 5L V8 is an $1100 option.  If I was buying, I'd probably get the V8.

Fords Ecoboost in a truck and car, the new tundras, Hondas turbo engines.

The eco boost has been discussed extensively (check the search bar above). As I recall, the Ford guys think the big eco boost is better than the little one, and the V8 is better than either but is going downhill, so the gap in reliability is shrinking.
The Tundra V8 is clearly superior to the twin turbo 6. The 6 has a small advantage in HP, but not much, and I’m hearing the the real world MPG advantage is minuscule. Given the proven reliability of the 5.7, it’s the winner. Problem is, you can’t get a new V8, and the new truck is much more livable than the old (assuming you can find one at your dealer)

What about the new titan gas trucks? I’ve heard 50/50 on those


Worth it for what?

Driving to work?

Shaving milliseconds off your quarter-mile?

How should we know what it's worth to YOU?


The way I think of turbos is like this. If a turbo gives you an extra boost and the engine would be just fine without one, then maybe get a car with turbo. Very few cars fall into this category. 

But if the turbo is used to meet basic requirements, and struggles without one then it’s probably not a good idea to get a car with a turbo. A ton of new cars fall into this category. 


Are turbocharged engines worth their money?

They aren't that much more expensive usually, and yet - NO they are not.

With a compression ratio of 13 on most modern engines, there's no need to ram in even more pressure!

When a car maker takes a high compression ratio, low friction piston ring engine it usually ends up being disastrous.


It's like direct injection, or variable valve lift - it can be done right, but 9/10 times it's not.


The only petrol turbo worth having for a daily driver is the BoosterJet, a stretched 90s engine with a modest boost

Instead of chasing horsepower or efficiency, they focused on simplicity and torque - it's came out delightful.

As far as I know it's not available in the US, and sadly it was a very short lived and expensive engine.