In 2013, my wife purchased a new Subaru Legacy. She wanted the top-of-the-line Limited model with leather, EyeSight, Adaptive Cruise Control, roof racks, and so much more.
She found the car she wanted in the color she wanted and negotiated a good price. When I asked her what engine the car had, I received nothing but a blank stare.
This girl knows cars. Her first car was a 1974 Porsche 911, and she can identify nearly any car on the road. She’s definitely a car chick, but the question of what powerplant sat under the hood of her new car stumped her.
I don’t blame her, though, because she purchased the car as a safe family sedan, not a drag racer.
That’s not uncommon these days, because people buy cars for the comfort features and looks. The engine is secondary. As long as the car drives well, the specifics don’t matter for many people.
As more powertrain options become available for each model of car, the confusion will only grow.
Ward’s Auto has a detailed story on the problem, and says,
Fuel-economy regulations will continue to tighten and compel automakers to add expensive powertrain technologies to their cars and trucks, but buyers do not see the benefit, especially when gasoline prices remain a relatively cheap $3 per gallon.
The article is mostly about the lack of knowledge about the range of alternative power sources for cars, such as the differences between different hybrid cars, turbocharged engines, plug-in hybrids, diesels, and more. But it brings up the interesting point that some people just don’t know, or care about, the engines that power their cars.
As time goes by and more options become available, the confusion will only get worse. Part of the confusion is caused by salespeople at dealerships who are trained on sales techniques but might not know much about the technical aspects of the cars they sell.
That might be rare, but it happens. I can remember shopping for a car and being told the engine was a V6 when I knew for certain the model I was test-driving came only with a 4-cylinder.
I think the divide happens mostly in cars that aren’t engine-centric. Drivers of Challengers and Mustangs know for certain what kind of engine powers their cars, while those in Camrys and Legacys don’t care as much.
Do you know what’s under your hood?