Engines with an odd number of cylinders are still considered relatively oddball here in the US. Manufacturers have dabbled with three- and five-cylinder engine layouts off and on for years with varying degrees of success, but now Ford is going even further by adding cylinder deactivation to its 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, according to Automotive News.
Audi is famous for its five-cylinder engines and Chevy put one in the Colorado. Geo had the three-cylinder Metro; Mini's non-S Cooper is a turbocharged three, as is the BMW i8. Ford has given the three-cylinder engine a go, too, in the 1.0-liter EcoBoost and now the 1.5-liter engine that sees duty in the Fusion and the Escape, and which will find a home in the 2019 Ford Focus.
If odd-numbered engines and cylinder deactivation aren't new, then why does this matter? Because nobody does a two-cylinder engine in a car anymore, and shutting down cylinders on such a small engine with an odd number of cylinders is a lot more complicated than it is on a big V8 because vibration issues are much more pronounced.
In Europe, the new engine is good for either 140 horsepower or 180 horsepower, depending on the application. This is pretty impressive when you consider that the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine in its highest power configuration for the US market put out less than 20 more horsepower and it had a whole extra cylinder. Ford has yet to release power figures for the US version of the 1.5, but we'd expect it to be in the same ballpark.
The Blue Oval is also keeping mum about fuel economy numbers, but one would expect them to be pretty good considering where its less-advanced four-cylinder engines are sitting at the moment.