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How Long Before V8s Are Gone?

I spent the last week driving around Southern California in a brand-new BMW 740i, which is a full-size, gigantic, massive, hugely heavy luxury sedan that’s powered by … a 6-cylinder engine. When I picked up the car, I was vaguely aware of this fact, but I had a very busy week in California and I didn’t really think about it. In the end, I drove this car something like 750 miles in a span of 5 days, and I came to the following conclusion: I don’t really miss the V8.

This is surprising for anyone who knows me and my car-buying preferences, because I love V8s. Love, love, love, love. My last five or six personal cars have been powered by a V8 engine — and when I went looking for a new car earlier this year to replace my Range Rover after 5 years of ownership, I dismissed anything that didn’t have a V8. “Not for me,” I thought. “Car enthusiasts drive V8s.”

Well, I no longer believe that.

I’ll have a full review of this 740i coming soon enough, but the basic gist is that the 6-cylinder felt zippy, and quick, and more than capable of moving this thing around wherever I took it. Interestingly, BMW also offers a V8 in this car, and I came away from this whole experience thinking the following thing: Who would bother with it?

And frankly, I think that’s how life is going to go, more and more, as turbocharged engines proliferate. Which brings me to the question I’m addressing in this piece, namely: How long before V8s are just completely gone?

No, I don’t think they’ll ever truly die, or else I don’t think they’ll die any sooner than other internal combustion engines. But how long before they’re reserved for cars like the Ferrari 488, or various Aston Martins and AMG Mercedes models, and regular vehicles simply stop using them altogether? How long before the Chevy Suburban isn’t powered by a V8, and Cadillac doesn’t use any V8s, and the V8 is basically completely finished, except for a small sliver of ultra-high-performance cars?

This is already happening, of course, as many former V8 stalwarts have already dropped their powertrains. For instance, the Range Rover ditched its standard V8 years ago, and it now uses a standard supercharged V6. The Ford Expedition is now using a turbo V6 exclusively, and the F-150 is clearly heading in that direction. And this 740i was proof that you don’t really need a V8 for a full-size luxury car.

With that in mind, when do you think the V8 will be extinct? I’m honestly wondering if it will even survive until 2025, except in highly limited applications like the ones described above. Moreover, I strongly suspect that my current personal car, purchased with the desire to own a V8 — because “Why would anyone own anything else?” — will be my very last daily driver with eight cylinders. The writing is on the wall, and the V8 is dying.

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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Doug Demuro
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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  1. The reason you’re seeing all those 4 and 6 cylinder engines in large vehicles is CAFE standards for fuel economy that were due to rise to above 50mpg by 2025.  

    Until Trump and his climate denying skeptics began running the EPA.
    The date to watch is April 1st, 2018 when the EPA is supposed to make final decisions regarding corporate average fuel economy for the 2022-2025 period.  
    Now I enjoy the large displacement, naturally aspirated, V8 in my E53 X5 4.6is – one of the rarest BMW models of all time.  But I also have cars with naturally aspirated and twin turbo six-cylinder engines.  Are modern cars better with less turbo lag?  Of course, but they still don’t provide the low-end grunt and rumble of the big lump idling under the hood.  
    All that noted, all gas guzzling vehicles – outside of long-haul trucking and farming – are likely to be a dying breed regardless of the number of cylinders.  Long live internal combustion.
  2. Toyota is kinda funny in this regard, the new LS500 doesn’t offer a V8, but the Tundra is V8 only now, if I’m not mistaken.

    Honda has never offered a production V8, and now even their V6 is only available in 3 models if you don’t count the last of the current gen. Accords.

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