Oddly enough, a Taurus with a four-banger makes sense

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
Here's an idea for Ford: Drop a four-cylinder engine into the Taurus engine compartment.

Crazy? I don't think so.

Earlier this year, Ford announced it will offer a 2.0-liter four-banger with turbocharging in the 2011 Edge and the redesigned 2012 Explorer. Horsepower and torque are a secret -- until now. I've been told that the little engine will turn out between 200 and 230 hp. That's plenty of guts to get a Taurus up to speed on a ramp and safely move into highway traffic. Plus, with two fewer cylinders, there's an mpg boost to boot.

Today, Taurus offers two V-6s, both with a 3.5-liter displacement. The standard engine has 262 hp. For fun, there's the big, bad SHO with twin turbochargers and a whopping 365 hp.

My prediction is Ford will drop a four-banger into the Taurus. Let's face it: With tough fuel economy and CO2 rules approaching, some automakers likely will need powerful, fuel-efficient, four-cylinder engines in some of their biggest cars, such as the Taurus, and probably the Lincoln MKS and MKT as well.

How the world has changed. Decades ago, a little 2.0-liter four-banger was the optional engine in my '72 Ford Pinto.