Automakers increasingly turning to turbocharging on new models for fuel economy, performance

In recent years, more car companies have been installing turbocharged engines in their vehicles. This means more horse power but with today's technology, it can also mean better fuel economy.

Mazda is currently getting into turbo engines in a big way. Oh, it's not the first time, but now the idea is to give a couple of their models a more premium overall vibe.

Both the Mazda3 2.5 Turbo, a compact, and the CX-30 2.5 Turbo, a compact SUV, are the respective models' top-of-the-line variants for 2021. Mazda's slogan for them: Refined Performance

So, what exactly is a turbo, and how is it beneficial? The term has haphazardly been applied to everything from sneakers to sunglasses. But on an engine, a turbocharger has an actual function.

Basically, it's a small device attached to the engine. Exhaust gases are routed through the turbocharger in one half. That spins a shaft, and on the other half of the shaft, air is pressurized and forced into the engine's intake. More airflow, more power. Basically, a smaller engine with a turbocharger can produce the same power as a larger engine without one.

For decades, Cadillac's sedans used large engines to move them down the road. But the new CT5 V-Series gets a relatively small 3.0 liter V6 engine, with twin turbochargers. The result? Three hundred sixty horsepower, which really lets the car scoot.

There was a time, years ago, when turbo engines weren't so great for everyday driving. You'd step on the gas, there'd be a delay, and then all of a sudden the power would come on, and the car would feel like it was shot out of a cannon. Today's turbo engines are much smoother, thanks to modern engine management technology.

And turbos are showing up more places than you may realize. Ford's been installing EcoBoost engines in its popular F-150 pickups for a number of years now. They don't call it a turbo by name, but that's what it is. The twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost trucks now handily outsell the V8 version, by a wide margin. There are now millions of these Ford trucks running around with turbos.

There was a time when calling a car a "turbo" typically meant something speedy and exotic. Today, it may just mean a car that has good power, good fuel economy and good drivability.

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