2018 Promises Advanced Technology that's Actually Obtainable

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【Summary】For those looking for a new car in 2018, you're in luck. The upcoming model year promises high-tech power trains and incredible fuel economy ratings.

Mia Bevacqua    Jan 01, 2018 9:00 AM PT
2018 Promises Advanced Technology that's Actually Obtainable

Christmas is over and 2018 is just around the corner. Forget your new year's resolution to quit cheeseburgers and hit the gym. Instead, focus on something more interesting – the latest automotive tech. The new year promises exciting models and high-tech features. Some of the most interesting examples come from Kia, General Motors and Volkswagen.


The Kia Niro is a unique specimen – a hybrid crossover SUV with a combined fuel economy rating of 50 mpg. Based on the Hyundai Ioniq platform, the Niro is powered by a 1.6L direct injected 4-cylinder engine rated at 104 hp/109 lb-ft. This petite gas engine is paired with an electric motor, which puts out 43 hp/125 lb-ft. The transmission is a 6-speed dual dry clutch, derived from the 7-speed found in the Optima. 

A lithium-ion battery rated at 156kWh supplies the motor with juice. Unlike most hybrids, the Niro does not have a standalone 12-volt battery – it's integrated into the HV battery assembly. An appendage to the HV, if you will. 

One of the Niro's most interesting features is its exhaust heat recovery system (EHR). The Prius has been using such a system for a while, but it's is a first for Kia. EHR is used to accelerate engine warm up for increased fuel economy. The system uses a heat exchanger at the exhaust system to channel heat to warm the engine coolant. 

General Motors

Anyone alive in the 80s will remember the GM's ill-conceived 5.7L diesel engine. But the General is looking to re-enter the light-duty diesel market with the 1.6L turbodiesel. To start, this little four-cylinder will be nestled between the frame rails of the Equinox. It will eventually also find its way into the Cruze.

This new diesel four-pot isn't some loud, stinky clunker from days gone by. It's an advanced four-valve engine, putting out 137 hp/240 lb-ft. It's rated for 39 mpg highway in the Equinox and 52 mpg highway in the Cruze. These numbers are better than hybrids of just a few years vintage. 

To achieve these record-shattering mpg figures, the 1.6L diesel employs advanced technology. To start, the fuel system has newly designed injectors that pulse up to 10 times per cycle. There's also a "butterfly" shaft on one intake valve per cylinder. These butterflies can be position for reduced emission or increased power, depending on driving conditions. The petite oil-burner also has the timing chain mounted at the bank of the engine, for reduced noise and vibration. 


Since the dirty diesel debacle, VW has shifted its focus away from developing diesel engines. Instead the company is introducing a new fuel-conscious 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder. What makes this engine unique is that it runs on the "Budach cycle", which uses turbocharging to fill the gaps created by changes in valve timing. The Budach cycle is closely related to the Atkinson cycle used in hybrids.

To make the Budach cycle work, the VW engine has two different cam lobes per intake valve. An electrically controlled hydraulic system is used to switch between the cam lobes.  One of the lobes is of short-duration design and the other is long-duration. When the engine is under light load, the short-duration lobe is used, increasing the length of the following combustion stroke. This allows for maximum energy recuperation and increased fuel economy. 

The Budach engine will find its way into the Tiguan, where it will be paired with an 8-speed automatic. It will also be linked to VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive system. 

You may never hit the gym –  or give up your super-sized fry addiction – but you can take solace in the fact 2018 holds great things. So, forget that burdensome new year's resolution and get ready for what may be the most exciting year yet in automotive technology. 

Source: Motor Magazine 

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