After a 20-year absence, the three-cylinder engine is returning to General Motors' North American vehicles.
The Buick Encore GX and the Chevrolet Trailblazer will be offered with 1.2- and 1.3-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engines, starting next year.
The last time GM sold a vehicle in the U.S. with a three-cylinder was in 2000: The Chevrolet Metro was equipped with a 1.0-liter nonturbo engine rated at 55 hp. In comparison, the automaker's modern-day 1.3-liter is rated at 155 hp.
GM has not disclosed the 1.2-liter's U.S. power specs, but in vehicles sold overseas, it is rated at 137 hp.
The Encore GX arrives in the first quarter of 2020, while the Trailblazer is scheduled to go on sale in spring as a 2021 model.
Both aluminum engines are built on a common architecture, weigh just over 200 pounds and save around 40 pounds compared with a four-cylinder.
Fuel economy figures for the Encore GX and Trailblazer have not been released, but they are likely to be higher than the 25 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined ratings of the 2020 Buick Encore powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder.
The three-cylinder engines, though new to the U.S., have been in production since 2014 and were developed in Europe and Asia by GM and some of its joint-venture partners.
The engine family is used in several vehicles made by SAIC, which markets vehicles under the MG and Roewe brands. SAIC builds its own versions of the engines. GM will make the engines at its Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, plant, said spokesman Kevin Kelly.
Ford, Mini and Mitsubishi also offer three-cylinder engines in North American vehicles. Three-cylinder engines are common in European and Asian small cars.
The 1.2-liter is one of the smallest-displacement engines ever offered by GM in North America. Besides the 1.0-liter Metro engine, the only other smaller engine was a 1.1-liter four-cylinder available in the Opel GT sport coupe in the late 1960s.