We're beginning to sound like a broken record: One of the ways carmakers will meet new, tougher gas-mileage requirements will be to use smaller, more efficient engines in their vehicles.

Those may be 1.0-liter three-cylinder engines in subcompacts, but they may also be more powerful V-6 engines that replace the classic American V-8 in some of our largest vehicles.

According to trade journal Automotive News, Ford will offer its 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 in next year's Lincoln Navigator, the full-size sport-utility vehicle it sells in two lengths to compete directly against the Cadillac Escalade SUV.

If we had to guess, we'd expect the Navigator to get the same 3.5-liter direct-injected and turbocharged V-6 that's now offered in the Ford F-150 pickup truck line. It will likely be offered in the standard Navigator, and not the longer-wheelbase Navigator L model that competes with the stretched Cadillac Escalade ESV.

And we might expect the EcoBoost engine to show up the following year, 2013, in the less-luxurious Ford Expedition full-size SUV from which the Navigator is derived.

The 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine has been unexpectedly popular in Ford's F-150 pickups, the best-selling single nameplate in the country. For several months now, Ford has sold more F-Series models with V-6 engines (including both standard V-6 and EcoBoost options) than with traditional V-8s.

Ford says it will offer an EcoBoost option across 90 percent of its vehicle lines by 2013, so adding it to the Navigator (and later the Expedition) seems like a no-brainer. But will the thriftier engine prove as appealing in luxury SUVs as it has in working pickup trucks?

That one we're less certain about.

[Automotive News (requires subscription)]


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