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Large luxury vehicles getting mpg makeover

September 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Large luxury cars may look good, but they can cost you a bundle in gas. Now, some car companies are trying to change that.

With Lincoln's discontinuation of the aging town car last year, the MKS is now their largest sedan, which has gotten some updates for 2013. It has the expected big car attributes: Loads of interior space, an enormous trunk and lots of luxury. One big car tradition it doesn't have a V8 engine.

The MKS is V6 only, with a high-power eco-boost version as an option. It's got more power than many V8s but with respectable fuel economy figures of 17 city and 25 highway. The non eco-boost with less power does a bit better in mpg numbers, and keep in mind that it is a fairly large car.

Today and in the near future, every mile per gallon is going to count. So Cadillac's new full size car, the XTS, also carries a V6 under the hood. No V8 in the biggest Caddy sedan, a first in the modern era.

Chrysler's gone on an engine diet, too. With the revision of the 300 model last year, the company decided you no longer have to choose the V8 to get the most luxury. You now can get an efficient V6 along with the nicest interior offered.

This isn't the first time large luxury cars have gone on a fuel diet. Back in the late 1970s, car makers were scrambling to get their large luxury rides to get better fuel economy, but the technology just wasn't there. The result was cars that were horrible to drive and real slow-pokes. But today, things have changed.

Modern electronic engine controls mean that smaller engines can deliver big power. Both the V6 in the Cadillac and the base V6 in the Lincoln make just over 300 horsepower. The Lincoln's optional engine produces 365 horsepower.

And it's not just domestic brands going for smaller engines. The Jaguar XF has been V8 only from the get-go, but soon you'll be able to get a four-cylinder turbo engine.

The definition of a luxury car is pretty much the same as it's always been. But now, the definition of a luxury car engine has changed. And as far as gas mileage goes, for the better.


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