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Turbocharged engines in cars are nothing new, but many automakers have used them more often over the past few years. A turbocharger is a great replacement for engine displacement, so using a large V6 or V8 is no longer necessary.

A turbocharger is an engine component that compresses the air going into the engine, enabling it to make more power. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty technical details. Still, it’s worth noting that a turbocharged four-cylinder engine can make as much power as a V6 or V8 while maintaining its fuel efficiency.

Here are five of the cheapest cars equipped with turbocharged four-cylinder engines.

1. 2023 Volkswagen Jetta — $20,655

A front corner view of a 2023 Volkswagen Jetta driving down a road
2023 Volkswagen Jetta | Volkswagen

The 2023 Volkswagen Jetta is a five-passenger compact sedan that offers plenty of comfort and storage space. It’s loaded with plenty of available amenities like Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi, and an easy-to-use infotainment system.

Interior features aside, the real star of the show is the car’s turbocharged 1.5-liter engine that makes 158 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It’s not a barn burner, but the best aspect of the turbocharged engine is its 42 mpg highway rating when paired with a manual transmission. It can also return up to 41 mpg when paired with the optional eight-speed automatic transmission.

2. 2024 Mini Cooper — $25,800

A yellow Mini Cooper S drives down a road
Mini Cooper S | BMW USA

It’s easy to say the 2024 Mini Cooper is a “go-cart on wheels,” but do you know why? Its small dimensions, nimble handling, and easy-to-drive nature are all parts of the equation. However, the available trio of engines is what makes the Mini Cooper fun to drive.  

The base Mini Cooper has a turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 134 hp. Stepping up to the Cooper S brings out a beefier 189-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Selecting the range-topping John Cooper Works model uncorks 228 hp from the same 2.0-liter engine. Turbocharging is a wondrous thing, and the Mini Cooper embodies its technical magic.

3. 2023 Kia K5 — $25,290

A 2024 Kia K5 midsize sedan model driving through a city past a line of trees
2024 Kia K5 | Kia America

The 2023 Kia K5 is arguably one of the most forgotten sedans in the midsize segment. That’s unfortunate, but we think buyers would appreciate what the turbocharged car offers. In addition to a long list of standard features that includes a touch-screen, Apple CarPlay, and all the power amenities you need, it has a turbocharged engine.

A turbocharged 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that generates 180 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque and gets up to 37 mpg power the base Kia K5. If more power is what you seek, the K5 GT has a 290-hp engine that can get up to 32 mpg. We’re guessing anyone who takes a K5 for a spin likely won’t forget it afterward.

4. 2024 Honda Civic —  $26,950

2023 Honda Civic Sedan in silver parked in the mountains
2023 Honda Civic | Honda

The Honda Civic is a perennial favorite among critics and the general public. What’s not to like? The Civic is value-packed with luxuries like a leather interior, heated seats, and an available Bose sound system.

The Civic’s available turbocharged 1.5-liter engine that makes 180 hp and can achieve up to 42 mpg on the highway makes the deal even sweeter. No wonder the Civic is a favorite and continues to be a leader in the segment.

5. 2024 Acura Integra — $32,695

The front corner view of the 2023 Acura Integra
2023 Acura Integra | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

We can’t get enough of how great the 2024 Acura Integra is. The best part is that you don’t need to step up to the super-hot Integra Type S to take advantage of its turbocharged power. The base Integra model has a 200-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that gets the car moving quickly and achieves over 30 mpg.

The cheapest turbocharged cars are an excellent replacement for displacement

These five cars show that you don’t need much money or extra cylinders to get a lot of power and fuel efficiency. Turbocharged engines are nothing new, but they are getting better as the years go on.


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