What is the difference between a turbocharged 4-cylinder and a V6?

May 16th, 2016 by

2016 Volkswagen Passat turbo 4-cylinder vs V6 engine

If you’re comparing models, and why wouldn’t you be, you may have noticed that Volkswagen differs from many other automakers because a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine is now standard for most of the models in the lineup. For economy models, this will be your only option, and it’s really all you need. For your midsize segment, as with the CC and Passat, you do have the option of selecting a V6 as well. If you’re torn between these options, you may be looking at the 2016 Volkswagen Passat and wondering what the differences are between the turbo 4-cylinder vs V6 engine, and we’re here to help.

2016 VW Passat Rear EndWhat is a turbocharged engine?

The first thing you’ll need to know is what a turbocharger is and what it does. In the past, engines were naturally-aspirated, meaning they sucked in air all by themselves. Many automakers still feature engines that are like this, and the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta had a naturally-aspirated engine up until this year. So why the change? Forced-induction engines, which use a turbocharger, are able to bring more oxygen into the engine. The more air in the cylinder, the more fuel can be combined with this air for a more efficient burn. Essentially, you get smaller displacement with more air, so it not only provides more power, but saves on fuel while doing so. Naturally-aspirated engines are larger and less efficient.

So why don’t all automakers opt for this? A turbocharged engine requires more parts, as two fans essentially pull in and compress exhaust fumes, plus an intercooler works to prevent overheating. A waste valve also prevents the turbocharger from pulling in too much exhaust fumes, all of which add up to a more complicated option, but it’s worth it.

More FAQs: Which 2016 VW cars have AWD?

How do you choose between the turbo 4 and the V6 in the 2016 VW Passat?

There are actually three options within the Volkswagen lineup that have a V6 engine, the 2016 VW Passat, CC and Touareg. Both the CC and the Passat offer the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or the V6, while the Touareg comes standard with a V6. Of these options, the Passat is the most popular thanks to an appealing price and a host of features, not to mention its refreshed styling for the model year. This said, the same pros and cons of each engine option also apply to the CC.

Read More: What’s different in the 2016 VW Passat?

Benefits of a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine include improved fuel economy while having an appealing amount of power. This power won’t compare to a V6, which obviously has two more cylinder to pull in air. Looking at the specs of the Passat, the turbo four is capable of delivering 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This provides a nice balance between power and fuel economy, as the model also returns an EPA-estimated 25 city and 38 highway MPG rating.

Benefits of the V6 engine center on its ability to deliver more power. Performance is improved because you do get more overall power, but turbochargers also have the downside of taking a moment to kick in when you need to acceleration quickly. V6 engines don’t have this hesitation. Looking at the 3.6-liter V6 in the Passat, you’ll notice it returns 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, numbers that far outshine the 4-cylinder option if you’re really seeking smooth acceleration. Still, there are always downsides, and V6 engines tend to suck up a whole lot more fuel. In this instance, you can expect fuel economy to drop to an estimated 25 city and 28 highway mpg rating.

Which model end up being better really depends on your preferences for power versus economy, and you’re not likely to know unless you drive both.

We hope this post helped you decide, and if you enjoyed it, we encourage you to stop back here at the Compass Volkswagen Blog for more posts on specific models and features.

Posted in FAQ, Fuel Economy, VW Passat