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How Long Does the V8 Still Have Left?

I think it’s time that we all realize the V8 is slowly dying. That’s because, and I know no better way to put this, it is. The V8 is ending its life, and we must all soon come to terms with the fact that V8-powered cars will someday be a thing of the past. Possibly someday soon.

I say this because many vehicles that were powered by V8s just a few years ago no longer are. You can’t get a V8 in a Toyota 4Runner anymore. The Range Rover has ditched the V8 for most of its variants, except the top-end stuff. AMG cars have seen their V8s shrink from 6.2 liters to 5.5 liters to 4.0 liters, to the point where I’m wonder if the next round of shrinkage won’t incorporate a V8 at all. The Lincoln Continental and Navigator now use V6s. The new Ford GT has a V6. The base-level engine in most new full-size luxury sedans, like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, is now a V6. The reign of the V6 is upon us.

This saddens me, because I’ve always had — and loved — V8s. Right now, I have four different V8-powered vehicles, comprising my entire fleet of cars — a 2006 Range Rover (4.4-liter V8), a 1997 Land Rover Defender (3.9-liter V8), a 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon (5.5-liter V8) and a 2005 Ford GT (5.4-liter V8). I’ve always felt V8s provide the best responsiveness to virtually any situation, with none of the annoying throttle delay you get in turbocharged 4- and 6-cylinder engines. V8s are always ready to go, and they don’t need much throttle to get there. They’re also smooth: A nice, smooth V8 offers a better, more linear torque curve than basically any turbo V6 I’ve ever driven, leading to a smoother ride and driving experience.

But I understand the problem: Emissions regulations are here, climate change is a problem and so maybe the V8 must die to save us all. I believe it’ll be a sad day when the last new production car with a V8 goes on sale — but I also think that day is coming, possibly sooner than we think.

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  1. There’s some time left. We’ve got another generation of Mustang/Camaro/Corvette/Challenger to go, at least, that will have V8 propulsion. And trucks aren’t done with V8s yet either. It’s on the horizon, but much like the wholesale change to electic cars, the transition out of V8s entirely is going to continue happening relatively slowly. Three of my four vehicles right now are V8s (Expedition, 4Runner, Mustang GT), and all have many years of life left in them. Even the 4Runner with 190k on it; that V8 runs like it’s new. Also, the V8 in the pic is the original Lexus LS400 V8; not sure of the engine code, but that’s what it is. 

  2. Sadly the V6 is becoming more efficient with forced induction and soon the roar of the V8 will be nothing but a memory, At least the V6 is a good sounding engine in general. I’m more sad that one day all cars will likely be hyper-efficient electric vehicles perhaps all going the route of the BMW i8 with crazy performance, Do a cannonball run on a single charge and even simulating realistic engine noise but we will all know it’s nothing but a simulated experience like the “sex” scene in Demolition Man.

  3. Also, the rapidly booming Asian markets tend to use engine displacement for calculating annual registration taxes. Surprisingly, even people who buy $100k+ luxury cars are sensitive to such things and that creates higher demand for smaller engines even in full-size flagships. Those regions had the smaller engines for many years before North America did. 

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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