The Best Turbocharged Engines, Ranked Based On Horsepower And Reliability - SUV VEHICLE

The Best Turbocharged Engines, Ranked Based On Horsepower And Reliability

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We’ve said it before: reliability is difficult to determine for a myriad of reasons. However, once an engine has been on the market for a few years, we begin to get a pretty good idea of its long-term viability. Unlike determining the reliability of a specific vehicle, where the electronics, infotainment, transmission, and other components must be considered, the engines alone are considered for this list—specifically, turbocharged engines.




Turbocharging has been around for a very long time. Alfred Buchi filed patents for the first turbocharger during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency in 1905. Due to the added complexity and expense, in addition to reliability concerns, it didn’t exactly take off at this point. Still, it later found its way into marine engines in the 1920s, turbo-diesel locomotives in the 1940s, and eventually, trucks from companies like Scania and Volvo in the 1950s.

Surprisingly, given American car manufacturers’ well-known dominance in the world of large displacement naturally aspirated engines, the first turbocharged engine could be found under the hood of an Oldsmobile. The “Jetfire” was a 3.5-liter V-8 that made 215 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque; an impressive figure for 1962.


Since then, turbocharging has only become more common. However, it didn’t become as commonplace as it is today until the last two decades. With no end in sight to the spread of turbocharging throughout the automotive landscape, let’s look at some of the most reliable turbocharged engines of the modern era.

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To give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, including MotorReviewer.com, CarComplaints.com, and Tuningpro.co. Engines are ranked by their power output, but each engine is included due to its reliable reputation, lack of known issues, and the presence of high-mileage examples on the used market.


10 Ford 7.3-liter Powerstroke Turbodiesel

Horsepower: 275 HP

1997 Ford F-250 7.3L Power Stroke V8 Diesel
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Mercedes introduced its first turbodiesel engine in 1978. Though turbocharged engines, specifically turbocharged diesel engines, existed before, the W116 Mercedes 300SD was the first passenger car with a turbodiesel. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that turbodiesel trucks became a common offering from OEMs.


Apart from the 5.9-liter Cummins, Ford’s massive 7.3-liter Powerstroke, which is not to be confused with the gasoline Godzilla, has one of the best reputations for reliability in the diesel world. With plenty of owners reaching over 500,000 miles and plenty of examples for sale with mileage over 300,000, the 7.3 is a necessary inclusion on this list.

Performance Specifications

Engine

Ford 7.3-liter Powerstroke

Transmission

5/6-Speed Manual or 4-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

215 -275 HP

Torque

425 – 525 LB-FT

Driveline

4×4, 4×2

Noteworthy Applications

Excursion, F-250, F-350

(Data was collected from prosourcediesel.com)


A majority of issues reported have to do with the high-pressure oil injection system (HEUI). The injection regulator valve and cam position sensor are common failure points of the 7.3-liter Powerstroke. The injector driver module, which sends power to the under-valve cover harness, has been known to fail, which can cause sputtering or a no-start condition. The UVCH can actually be damaged by the heat and vibrations it experiences under the valve cover and can cause electrical issues as a result. Though they aren’t known for premature failure, if you replace the UVCH, it’s recommended that you replace the valve cover gaskets while you’re in there.

The only engine issue may result from a bad o-ring seal between the turbo and the up pipes. Thankfully, because of the lack of emissions equipment clogging up your working space, this job isn’t all that expensive and should be possible for experienced DIYers. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Powerstroke is the epitome of old-school diesel. It’s not particularly powerful, but it will last long enough that you can pass it down to your great-great-grandchildren.


Pros

  • Easy to work on
  • Takes abuse and neglect well
  • Far cheaper than modern diesels to maintain

Cons

  • Gulps fuel
  • Up pipes prone to leaking
  • A few problems with the high-pressure oil injection system

White Mercedes-Benz 300SD (W116)
Via Wiki Media Alexander-93

9 Volkswagen EA888 Inline-4

Horsepower: 292 HP

VW 2.0-liter


One of the most challenging problems for automakers to overcome is a bad reputation. Audi and Volkswagen developed an unfortunate reputation for being unreliable junk in the late 1990s and early to mid-2000s. Cars like the original Audi Allroad, the B5 S4, anything with the Gen-1 EA888, any early Tiptronic-equipped vehicle, and the B7 S4 have been cemented VAG in the history books as members of the maintenance night terror club. In recent years, there has been a reliability renaissance for the VW-Audi Group, and the Gen-3 EA888 is a prime example.

Performance Specifications

Engine

Volkswagen EA888 2.0-liter TFSI (Gen 3)

Transmission

6 or 7-Speed DCT or 6-Speed Manual

Horsepower

200 – 292 HP

Torque

207 – 280 LB-FT

Driveline

FWD, AWD

Noteworthy Applications

VW: Golf GTI, Golf R, Jetta GLI, Tiguan Audi: Q5, A4, S3


(Data was collected from Motorreviewer.com and vw.com)

If reliability is a concern, and you find yourself unable to resist the temptation for more power, the EA888 is the engine for you. Not only do these 2.0-liter engines make as much as 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque out of the box in the Mk7.5 Golf R, but they are also easy to tune. With just a $500 Stage 1 tune from APR, you unlock an extra 80 horsepower and torque without compromising the reliability of your daily driver. Predictably, the EA888 does not come without flaws.

Oil consumption, even beyond what Volkswagen likes to say is typical, was an issue in the first years of the Gen-3. According to CarComplaints, 2015 marks the worst year for the Golf GTI, with one of the major problems reported being excessive oil consumption. Owners report 2016 as the turning point for reliability, which conveniently marks the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.


Oil consumption notwithstanding, earlier years of the Gen-3 saw a number of premature water pump and PCV valve failures. The Gen-3 2.0-liter also suffers from the same problem that plagues almost all direct-injection motors: carbon deposits in the valves. That said, with regular and thorough maintenance, the 2.0-liter EA888 is a pretty safe bet these days (at least post-2016).

Pros

  • Very receptive to tuning and modification
  • Extensive aftermarket
  • Reliable even when tuned

Cons

  • Needs diligent maintenance to be reliable
  • Possible oil consumption (especially pre-2016)

8 Volvo B5254T Inline-5

Horsepower: 300 HP

2003 Volvo S60R engine
Volvo


After Volvo transitioned from rear-wheel drive to primarily front-wheel drive-based vehicles, their five-cylinder engines became the brand’s calling card. Plopped in nearly every model, from the little C30 hatchback to the boxy XC70 wagon to the three-row XC90, the 2.5-liter turbocharged inline-5 became ubiquitous. Power ranges from an acceptable 190 horsepower in the 850 to a whopping 300 horsepower in an S60/V70 R. Though the S60 R’s specs are impressive, most B5254T engines produce between 200 and 250 horsepower.

Performance Specifications

Engine

Volvo B5254T 2.5-liter Inline-5

Transmission

5/6-Speed Manual or 4/5/6/8-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

190 – 300 HP

Torque

199 – 295 LB-FT

Driveline

FWD, AWD

Noteworthy Applications

C30, V50, S60, XC70, XC90, S70, S60R


(Data was collected from fcpeuro.com)

A failed PCV air breather box plagues most iterations of the B5254T. Later models have a PCV diaphragm that can rupture, causing a distinct whistling sound. One easy way to diagnose a PCV system failure is to remove the oil dipstick. If the whistling stops, there is a good chance you may need a PCV replacement. Thankfully, the later models require less labor to remove the PCV breather box, but in earlier models, the intake manifold had to be removed to allow access. Another major concern is the dreaded oil consumption. Now, there are plenty of high mileage engines that consume oil due to age, but from 2013 to 2016, the 2.5-liter turbo had a habit of consuming oil the way college fraternities consume alcohol.


An extended warranty was offered for the 2015 and 2016 model years with the five-cylinder, but a majority of owners reported this being a concern as early as 2013. If you avoid the last few years of the B5254T and budget for a new PCV air breather box, you’ll end up with one of the 21st-century’s most dependable turbocharged workhorses.

Pros

  • Tons of high-mileage examples for sale
  • Long history of reliability
  • Beautiful five-cylinder sound

Cons

  • Serious oil consumption issue 2013-2016
  • Some iterations lack power
  • PCV valve/purge box failure

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7 Honda K20CI Inline-4

Horsepower: 306 HP

2023 Honda Civic Type-R Engine
Honda 


Honda is typically associated with high-revving naturally aspirated engines like the K20A, F20C, and B18. As it turns out, they’re also pretty good at making turbocharged engines. The K20C1 has an aluminum block and aluminum head, a forged crankshaft, and forged connecting rods. Though it’s not as endlessly modable as the EA888, Honda always has good aftermarket support and even sells these as crate engines for track use. In the latest Type-R, the turbocharged K20 produces 315 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Performance Specifications

Engine

Honda K20C1 2.0-liter Inline-4

Transmission

6-Speed Manual

Horsepower

306 – 320 HP

Torque

295 – 310 LB-FT

Driveline

FWD

Noteworthy Applications

FK2, FK8, and FL5 Civic Type-R, Acura Integra Type-S

(Data was collected from Motorreviewer.com)


Unlike the icons of Honda’s past, the K20C1 isn’t exceptionally high revving with a redline of only 7,000 RPM, but it does make great power and seems to be following in the tradition of Honda reliability. Though this engine is mass-produced, it doesn’t live in as many vehicles as the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine in the base Civic. This and the Type-R’s enthusiast status means we don’t have as much data to utilize when determining the long-term reliability of its engine. That said, no news is good news, as no major issues have been reported at this time.

There are already a few examples on the market that have gone beyond the 100,000 mark and appear to be in good mechanical condition. Ultimately, the K20C1 in the Type-R is a powerful, well-built engine that should have no problem hitting 200,000 miles.

Pros

  • No major issues reported
  • It can be run hard
  • Paired with an excellent 6-speed manual in the Type-R

Cons

  • Not as easily moddable as EA888
  • No 8,000+ RPM redline like older performance-oriented Hondas


6 Nissan RB26DETT Inline-6

Horsepower: 316 HP

Nissan Skyline GT-R engine
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Nissan’s RB26DETT, though not quite the pop culture icon the 2JZ is, powers a car that might be an even bigger legend than the Toyota Supra. The Nissan Skyline is a great example of wanting what you can’t have—especially for those of us living outside of Japan. The Skyline has always been a forbidden fruit to the rest of the world, but with the first year of the R34 now available for import under the 25-year import rule, we can finally participate (across all generations) in the glory of what is arguably Nissan’s greatest engine. While the Nissan claimed only 276 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, it is generally agreed that the numbers were closer to 316 horsepower and 289 lb-ft of torque.


The RB26DETT has a massive modding community, and given that it’s been around since 1989, most of the problems have been sorted out. That said, it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you throw money at your favorite car from Gran Turismo.

Performance Specifications

Engine

Nissan RB26DETT

Transmission

5 or 6-Speed Manual

Horsepower

276 – 316 HP

Torque

260 – 289 LB-FT

Driveline

AWD

Noteworthy Applications

R32, R33, R34

(Data was collected from enginebuildermag.com)


The RB26 is most well-known for its oil pump issues. These issues are far more prevalent in modified engines but can still be a concern in stock form. The early years of the R32 (1989-1991) had an oil pump drive that was machined too small, leading to oil pump failures at higher RPM. Nissan updated to a larger oil pump drive in later years, but the issue was not completely gone. An upgraded oil pump from an aftermarket supplier is a good recommendation, even with stock power levels. That said, if you want massive power out of your RB26, a 1JZ-inspired “spline drive” is noted by engine builders to be an absolute must if you want to avoid oil starvation.

Thankfully, the RB26DETT has been around for ages, so you can benefit from the emptied wallets of the past to help avoid most issues. Aside from oil pump woes, the RB was ahead of its time and is still a reliable and desirable powerplant even in its old age.

Pros

  • Exceptionally reliable in stock form
  • Smooth, balanced power delivery
  • Gorgeous sound


Cons

  • Oil starvation due to bad oil pump (1989-1991)
  • Needs mods to stay reliable with increased power

5 Toyota 2JZ-GTE 3.0-liter Inline-6

Horsepower: 320 HP

MK4 Toyota Supra engine
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As an utterly obsessed car nerd, it’s rare to mention an engine’s internal designation without confused looks. The 2JZ may be the one engine universally known by its “real” name. Mention “2JZ” to most people vaguely familiar with car culture, and they’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re talking about—even if the Fast and Furious franchise is their main source. The 2JZ is legendary for its surprisingly durable internals and ability to make massive power. Not only is the 2J a significant part of the Supra’s icon status, but it’s also an LS-level swap candidate.


The 2J we want to highlight is the 2JZ-GTE. This is the twin-turbocharged version that powers the MK4 Toyota Supra Turbo. In stock form, it produces 320 horsepower and 315 lb-ft of torque, but it’s become almost common to see 1000+ horsepower builds. It’s said that 600-700 horsepower is about the limit without upgrading the internals or touching the block.

Performance Specifications

Engine

Toyota 2JZ-GTE 3.0-liter Inline-6

Transmission

4-Speed Automatic or 6-Speed Manual

Horsepower

320 HP

Torque

315 LB-FT

Driveline

RWD

Noteworthy Applications

MK4 Supra

(Data was collected from Motorreviewer.com)


Big power is possible, but the 2JZ, despite its reputation, is not perfect. Issues include a poor-flowing cylinder head, a crank pulley known for eventually breaking apart, and an oil pump seal known for blowing itself out. Some even report the sequential turbo setup to be a bit finicky at times, but this is a more prominent issue when owners start to add power. In fact, aside from the problems mentioned, the 2JZ doesn’t have much to report when it’s left in stock form or with a mild power increase. Even the reported issue with the timing tensioner bracket isn’t as big of a deal when considering the 2JZ is a non-interference engine. This means the valves and pistons never occupy the same space, so losing timing doesn’t turn the engine into a boat anchor.


Reputation aside, the 2JZ-GTE is about as durable and reliable as people say. It’s certainly not as easy to make 1,000 horsepower as people make it seem, but if you want a reliable engine with years of research and aftermarket support behind it, the 2JZ really hits the mark.

Pros

  • Tons of aftermarket support
  • Incredibly durable and receptive to modification
  • Easy to work on compared to more modern engines

Cons

  • Timing belt tensioner bracket prone to breaking
  • Poor flowing head, modifications required for big power
  • Crank pulley can come apart

Related
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4 BMW B58 3.0-liter Inline-6

Horsepower: 382 HP

2024 Toyota Supra engine bay
Toyota 


The B58 is dubbed “the modern 2JZ.” In many ways, it is similar to the 2JZ. They are both turbocharged inline-six engines, they both make a significant amount of power on stock internals, and both require more expensive modifications to run a crazy high boost all day long. Stock for stock, the B58 will easily outpace a 2JZ-GTE with 382 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque straight from the factory. In a very BMW way, some owners report dyno results that show that the early years of the B58 put nearly as much power on the wheels as BMW and Toyota claim it makes at the crank.

The engine began development back in 2012 and has been on the market since only 2016. Though not without flaws, the B58 is one of the most reliable BMW engines produced this century.

Performance Specifications

Engine

BMW B58 3.0-liter Inline-6

Transmission

8-Speed Automatic or 6-Speed Manual

Horsepower

335 – 382 HP

Torque

365 – 368 LB-FT

Driveline

RWD, AWD

Noteworthy Applications

3-Series, 4-Series, Z4, X5, MK5 Supra


(Data was collected from r44performance.com)

The weirdest concern about earlier B58s was oil filter disintegration. BMW has released several revisions to the oil filter, and the problem no longer seems prevalent. It’s more than likely that cheap aftermarket filters or extended oil change intervals are at fault for this bizarre issue. Like most BMWs, the B58 does tend to leak some oil, specifically from the valve cover gaskets, which tend to fail prematurely. Another BMW cliché the B58 exhibits is VANOS solenoid issues and premature failures.

Coolant loss has been reported, but many speculate that the cap on the coolant reservoir could be releasing more pressure and, thus, more coolant than designed. Look, the B58 isn’t 2GR-FE V-6 reliable, but it’s an incredibly potent engine with a solid history of reliability since it hit the market in 2016.


Pros

  • Tons of tuning potential
  • Good projected reliability stock
  • Toyota’s B58 has some important changes

Cons

  • Potential coolant loss issue
  • Premature valve cover gasket failures
  • Oil filter disintegration

Note: If you’re curious about the changes Toyota made to their version of the B58, click here.

3 Audi EA855 Inline-5

Horsepower: 401 HP

Audi RS3 2022
Audi

EVs are incredibly cool and, though not the best fit for the average person just yet, will continue to develop and improve over time. For some car enthusiasts, the instant torque and low center of gravity are more than enough to make EVs very exciting. For others, nothing can quite replace the sounds and vibrations of an internal combustion engine.


If you’re an audiophile or musician, you’re probably familiar with scales and intervals. Intervals are simply the measurement between two pitches, but certain intervals are more pleasing to the ear than others. Five-cylinder engines make a major third interval (though the third is technically an octave above), which creates a unique and gorgeous sound. V-10s also have this interval, which, if you’ve heard of the Lexus LFA, puts the EA855 in good company. However, it doesn’t just sound good, it’s also a very powerful and very reliable engine as well.

Performance Specifications

Engine

Audi EA855 2.5-liter Inline-5

Transmission

6-Speed Manual or 7-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

335 – 401 HP

Torque

332 – 369 LB-FT

Driveline

AWD

Noteworthy Applications

RS3, TTRS, RS Q3


(Data was collected from lifeonfour.com)

Powering the most recent RS3 and TTRS, this engine pumps out nearly 400 horsepower and nearly 370- lb-ft of torque. The most common issue reported by owners is a defective fuel pump. Given these are direct-injection engines, the high-pressure fuel pumps can be expensive, but this issue doesn’t appear to be as widespread as something like the oil consumption in the 2013-2016 Volvo 2.5-liter. As with other direct-injection engines, carbon build-up in the valves will need attention as the engine approaches the 100,000-mile mark.

Some early RS3 models are reported to have had issues with the timing chain tensioners and big power builds have been known to suffer turbo failure, but these reports are few and far between. They won’t be particularly cheap to own, but the EA855 has been around for quite a while and has proven itself to be one of VAG’s most reliable turbocharged engines.


Pros

  • Gorgeous induction and exhaust note
  • Minimal known issues
  • Paired with a manual on the MK2 TTRS

Cons

  • Reported oil pump failures
  • Possibility of excessive oil consumption at higher mileage
  • Carbon build-up

2 Porsche “Mezger” 3.6-liter Boxer-6

Horsepower: 473 HP

2001 Porsche 911 Turbo S engine
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The non-Mezger M96 engines may be infamous for their IMS bearing issues, but the turbocharged Mezger engines plopped behind the rear axle of the 996 and 997 Turbo are often considered Porsche’s most famous and reliable engines. Technically, the Mezger engine dates back to the air-cooled 2.0-liter H-6 in the 1963 911. This means the heart of the 996 and 997 Mezger is actually air-cooled. Porsche decided they wanted to stick with a known quantity and instead of using the M96 from the 996 Carrera, they essentially made the 993 engine water-cooled. It has a crankcase from the 993, a cylinder head and block design based on the GT1, and valve heads based on the 959.


Performance Specifications

Engine

Porsche 3.6-liter Boxer-6

Transmission

5-Speed Automatic, 6-Speed Manual, 7-Speed PDK

Horsepower

414 – 473 HP

Torque

415 – 457 LB-FT

Driveline

RWD, AWD

Noteworthy Applications

996 & 997 Turbo, GT2

(Data was collected from fcpeuro.com)

Though the Mezger engine is basically bulletproof, it does have a few things to watch out for. Given the crankcase was based on the air-cooled 993/964 design, coolant lines run all over the engine. The pipes are connected using adhesive, which can fail over time, resulting in a very messy coolant evacuation. There is a permanent fix that essentially has them welded together and should be good for the life of the vehicle. The fix, though permanent, does require dropping the engine out of the car, which makes for quite an expensive day at the shop.


The reputation of the Mezger is well documented, and as a result, we can’t recommend Porsches equipped with this engine enough. In the 996 Turbo, it produces 414 horsepower, and an even more impressive 473 in the 997. It may not be cheap when it comes to maintenance, but it should always make it through that last lap and even get you home after, too.

Pros

  • “Bulletproof” reliability
  • Proven durability on the track
  • Lots of power and a manual

Cons

  • Repairs are expensive
  • Coolant pipe failure
  • VarioCam solenoid sensitive to dirty oil

Related
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1 Ford 3.5-liter Ecoboost V-6

Horsepower: 647 HP

2014 Ford F-150 3.5L Ecoboost Engine
Ford

The 3.5-liter Ecoboost V-6 has been a big surprise to truck owners over the last 10–15 years. It’s rare for a turbocharged V-6 to garner such a reputation for reliability in its first iteration. The EcoBoost is actually based on another reliable Ford engine called the Duratec 35. The EcoBoost uses the same block and the same bore and stroke as the naturally aspirated Duratec 35. It’s all aluminum and has an open deck design for optimized cooling. Similar to Toyota, when Ford updated the 3.5-liter for the Gen-2 version of the engine in 2017, they added multi-port fuel injection to go along with direct injection. This should prevent the carbon buildup on the valves that most DI engines suffer from.


Performance Specifications

Engine

Ford 3.5-liter Ecoboost V-6

Transmission

6 or 10-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

320 – 647 HP

Torque

350 – 550 LB-FT

Driveline

4×2, 4×4

Noteworthy Applications

F-150, F-150 Raptor, Flex, Taurus SHO, GT

(Data was collected from Motorreviewer.com)

In addition to Ford’s update to the injection system, they added a second timing chain to the Gen-2. Instead of a single chain, each cylinder bank has its own chain, reducing the possibility of stretching and failure. This actually helps to eliminate two of the primary issues seen in the Gen-1: carbon build-up and timing chain issues. Despite the updates, ignition coils and spark plugs still only last 40,000-60,000 miles, and these engines still cost more to maintain properly than their naturally aspirated counterparts.


That said, power is huge, and these engines can be modded to make even more power. The 3.5 EcoBoost is primarily seen in the F-150 (including the Raptor), but it has also found its way into the Ford Flex, Ford Taurus SHO, and a number of Lincoln vehicles as well. Perhaps the biggest claim to fame is the version of the 3.5-liter that powers the third-generation Ford GT. Though different in some ways from the more common EcoBoost, in the Ford GT, it makes an astonishing 647 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque.

It may not be as cheap to maintain as older Ford engines, but it’s gained a reputation as a trustworthy workhorse. Even the Gen-1 rarely sees serious issues until 150,000-200,000 miles.

Pros

  • Gen-2 made reliability updates
  • Massive power and tuning capability

Cons

  • Timing chain issues in Gen-1
  • Carbon build-up with only direct injection
  • Limited life on coils and plugs

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