Continuing the trend of raising gas mileage by using smaller, more powerful engines, Ford is set to launch its first four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the 2011 Ford Edge, which will be unveiled at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show next week.

We've written before about Ford's EcoBoost system, which uses direct injection and turbocharging to produce horsepower and torque that's equivalent to a much larger engine.

MyFord Touch - 2011 Ford Edge

MyFord Touch - 2011 Ford Edge

Ford Four-Cylinder EcoBoost Engine

Ford Four-Cylinder EcoBoost Engine

The plan for a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine has been known for some time, but these are the first specifics from Ford

The plan for a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine has been known for some time, but these are the first specifics from Ford


2010 Lincoln MKS with EcoBoost

2010 Lincoln MKS with EcoBoost

The MKT will be available with either a 268hp (200kW) Duratec V6 or the new 355hp (265kW) EcoBoost mill

The MKT will be available with either a 268hp (200kW) Duratec V6 or the new 355hp (265kW) EcoBoost mill

First four for Edge

The 2011 Edge will have the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four that Ford announced last fall. It develops 230 horsepower, comparable to the 240 hp of a 3.0-liter V-6--but fuel economy that's roughly 20 percent better.

To date, Ford has positioned the EcoBoost option at the top of each model lineup. But charging more for a 2.0-liter four than for a larger 3.5-liter V-6 (the other Edge engine) may be a tough sell. The previous EcoBoost V-6 only had to compete against another V-6.

We're eager to see how Ford positions and markets the 2.0-liter EcoBoost four in the 2011 Edge, and whether it stresses fuel efficiency, performance, or an equal mix of both.

V-8 power from 3.5-liter V-6

The first EcoBoost was a 3.5-liter V-6, fitted to the 2010 Lincoln MKS luxury sedan and MKT crossover, as well as the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO and Flex seven-seat crossover. Not only did it take the two-ton MKS from 0 to 60 mph in around 6.5 seconds, but it returned 24.4 miles per gallon at a steady 70 mph.

To counter the image of fuel-efficient vehicles being slow and sluggish, Ford has worked hard to keep performance lively. Reviewers, including our own, have called EcoBoost-equipped cars "a blast to drive".

The new engine is one-third smaller in displacement than its competitor, significantly higher than the one-quarter reduction for last year's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which compared to a 4.6-liter V-8.

Customer desire

By putting the EcoBoost in premium vehicles from Ford and Lincoln, Ford laid the foundations for future models, making "customers see it as a technology they want to have," said Ford's advanced engine manager Brett Hinds.

Hinds told High Gear Media that the EcoBoost option being ordered at almost twice Ford's projection of 15 percent, and more than twice that on early MKT crossover orders.

Ford has said that by 2013, 90 percent of its global nameplates will offer an EcoBoost option. It expects to put 1.3 million EcoBoost engines a year on the road that year, in both base and premium models.

As hot as a V-6

For the inline four-cylinder engine, Ford's engine designers used a single turbocharger, rather than the pair of smaller turbos used on the V-6. This demanded much more attention to alleviating "turbo lag" as the turbine spools up to the speed where it provides extra boost.

Among other changes for the four, said Hinds, was fitting a radiator with the cooling capacity needed for a V-6 of the same output.

In this sense, the Edge is an ideal first application, since it has only been offered with a V-6 since its launch as a 2007 model.

New styling and Touch too

Other changes to the 2011 Ford Edge will include a restyled front end, to make it more similar to the global look of its recent 2011 Fiesta and 2012 Focus. Also, the Edge will be the first Ford model to get the well-received MyFord Touch instrument panel and switch system.

Ford released a photo of the 2011 Edge interior as part of the MyFord Touch introduction, but it hasn't yet revealed the new styling.

We'll bring you full details on the 2011 Ford Edge when it's launched, along with all the news from the 2010 Chicago Auto Show.

[Detroit News]