Today, 5-cylinder engines are a thing of the past and Audi is the last to stick to them. As history shows, these are usually very good, refined and durable engine, and contrary to appearances, not as exotic as it seems. Here’s a quick overview of those that are fairly easy to find in a used car. I chose the 5 most interesting ones.
5-cylinder engines nowadays, from the manufacturers’ point of view, have almost the same disadvantages. Their too large capacity (usually approx 2.5 liters) translates into higher fuel consumption and does not comply with the current emission standards. They are longer than four-cylinder ones, so they will not fit in every car. In the past, they were a bridge connecting 4- and 6-cylinder engines, but in times of great effort, they are no longer needed. Their production is relatively expensive and there is no point in developing them.
Best 5 Cylinder Engines
I present the 5 most popular of 5-cylinder engines and, in my opinion, the best interesting.
Volvo R5 Engine
One of the most common cars with 5-cylinder engines on the road is Volvo. Interestingly, not every user is aware of it. Meanwhile, most of the 5-cylinder in the popular models of the first generation S60 and S80, the second V70 or the first XC90 are 5-cylinder, regardless of the power system (turbo and without) or fuel (gasoline and diesel), or even origin, because not all of them are original Volvo designs, but about it on the last page of the article.
The early ones, produced before 2010, are great. Refined and very durable, especially with a capacity of 2.4 liters. The legendary long-lasting D5 diesel successfully withstands 400,000-500,000 km regardless of the power variant (126–211 HP), although the lower, the higher the durability.
The less popular 2.5T petrol engine with power from 200 to 231 HP offers good dynamics and can be fitted with an LPG system. It was installed in a very successful version in Ford cars, incl. Focus ST, Mondeo, S-Max or Kuga. The developmental, most powerful version of this engine also found its way under the hood of the Focus RS (305-350 HP), but this is a rare specimen.
Over time, Volvo began to use four-cylinder engines more and more in place of the R5 5-cylinder engines. Along with the increasing requirements for exhaust emissions, there were more and more solutions to reduce pollution, and at the same time the power was higher and higher, which of course reflected on the legendary durability.
Nevertheless, all R5 engines with a capacity of more than 2.0 l in Volvo and Ford cars can be recommended, because even in those models where they were not so durable and reliable (after 2010), they are better than four-cylinder.
Mercedes 2.7 CDI Diesel Engine
The engine with the designation OM612 was one of the best modern Mercedes diesel engines with Common Rail injection. The 5-cylinder engine is characterized by high torque (often 400 Nm) and low fuel consumption, especially in large cars – SUVs and limousines of the E segment. With a reasonable capacity and relatively low production costs, the motor met the needs of customers who wanted to buy a larger premium car.
A very valuable feature of this 5-cylinder engines is the interchangeability of many parts with R4 and R6 diesel engines, which were twins. Due to high popularity, access to parts is easy, and a large number of replacements reduces the cost of service and repairs. What’s more, it is a motor that will successfully undergo the classic regeneration process, although access to used 5-cylinder engines makes such an operation questionable.
One of the biggest problems with the 2.7 CDI engine is the cylinder head that is cracking due to overheating. Before buying, check the fluid level and check this area in the workshop, and take care of the efficiency of the cooling system after purchase. Apart from this drawback, any minor and larger defects usually resulting from huge mileage should not deter you.
Unfortunately, it is quite an old 5-cylinder engines – installed in Mercedes until 2006. Unfortunately, this is often associated with significant wear or high mileage. When buying a car with 2.7 CDI, it is worth taking this into account and having a reserve of at least $540-$800 for removing potential breakdowns.
The only development version of this engine used later is the OM647 installed in the newer E-Class (W211) and licensed in SsangYoung cars, and until 2004 also in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Note – the Grand Cherokee WJ was offered in parallel with the fatal 3.1 diesel also in R5 design. I do not recommend this variant, except to enemies.
Alfa Romeo 2.4 JTD Engine
Buying an older Alfa Romeo model is quite a dilemma. There are many engine versions, but some are emergency, and others – according to purists – do not match the character of Italian beauties. The R5 diesel engine with the designation 2.4 JTD or JTDM seems to be the optimal choice. It gives good performance, is economical, sounds good, and it does not detract from the prestige of any Alfa.
This motor may not be very popular, but it was used both in the 156 and 159 models, as well as in the larger Alfa 166 or Fiat Croma or Lancia Lybra. If in your opinion any of these cars is worth buying, it is even better if it is powered by a 2.4 JTD engine.
This design has two incarnations. Early, used since the late 1990s, it has a ten-valve head and a very durable, simple design. Unfortunately, most of these engines have already had a lot of mileage. The dynamics leaves a slight dissatisfaction, because 130–150 KM also offers a smaller 1.9 JTD in younger versions.
From 2003, a modernized version with a twenty-valve head appeared. It’s a bit more troublesome, but still very durable. The newer engine has a power of 175–210 HP, a torque of 385 to even 400 Nm and very good dynamics.
The 2.4 JTD engine basically has two weaknesses. All varieties have a fairly low durability of the timing drive, so the belt is recommended to be replaced even after 80,000 km mileage. The newer variant, on the other hand, has an intake manifold with flaps that like to fail. The repair is not too expensive, and it manifests itself, among others, lower performance and higher fuel consumption.
Land Rover Td5 Engine
About the Td5 engine (Defender and Discovery II), landrovers can have long arguments around campfires, but the fact is that since the British manufacturer started using them, not only the durability of the drives, but also the durability of entire cars has decreased significantly.
The most conservative mechanics and users say the Td5 engine’s debut marks the line between good times and bad for the brand. On the website (the largest experts in the field of Land Rover repairs) we can find an interesting description:
1999 was the worst time for Defender, coinciding with the collapse of the entire Land Rover. Td5 engines were used, with engine injectors which cause a lot of problems.
However, let’s look at the topic more broadly. As a company, Land Rover had to abandon the outdated, very simple and durable 2.0 Tdi and 3.0 Tdi engines in favor of something more modern in the face of increasing requirements in terms of exhaust gas cleanliness and customer expectations. So he designed his own new generation 5-cylinder 2.5-liter engine, which in fact is not as bad as it is painted – it is just much worse than its predecessor. If it had not been created, the story of Defender could have ended a good 20 years ago.
The biggest problem of this td5 “5-cylinder engine is not, contrary to popular opinion, the injection system, but something more prosaic – neglect of service and lack of professional knowledge of mechanics. When the engine is well-kept, regularly serviced, under the care of a professional, it is a good source of drive for Discovery II or Defender models. An alternative in the form of a gasoline V8 does not suit everyone, and the British engine is also not free from disadvantages.
Engine service is not cheap, and the first recommendation I would give is to find real specialists, and not entrust it to a random mechanic. Fortunately, there is no problem with this in US.
Looking at the used Land Rover market, it is still the best choice. The injection system malfunctions are the most expensive (about $270-$400 for the unit injector ), which, in the face of high prices, are often repaired at the cheapest possible cost, which unfortunately has a hiccup in the years to come.
Volkswagen 2.5 TDI Engine
The 5-cylinder 2.5 TDI engine is quite interesting because it was overshadowed by 1.9 TDI, 3.0 TDI, 2.0 TDI and 2.5 TDI, but V6. However, not uncommon at all, on the contrary. Interestingly, no one specifically writes about this engine.
It was created in the late 1980s and lasted until 2009. It drove older Audi models (it was designed by this company), utility Volkswagen transporters and various Volvo models before the Swedish manufacturer developed its own 5-cylinder engines described earlier. These were the first two generations of the V70, as well as the 850 and the early S60 / S80. This engine can be easily distinguished from the Swedish ones by the marking (2.5 TDI) or by the capacity, which is 2461 cm².
Coming back to the engine itself, it is a very simple and durable structure that has been developed over the years. Its wide application – from limousines, through delivery cars, to luxury SUVs – only confirms that it fits any type of car. Of course, in the first generation Volkswagen Touareg, it will not match the working culture and performance of the 3.0 TDI engine, but if you are concerned about high repair costs, the 2.5 TDI is the engine that will drain your pocket the least.
As it is an engine from the Volkswagen concern, service is the last thing to worry about. All parts are and will be offered for a long time, and the regeneration of unit injectors is cheaper than their equivalents from the Common Rail system. A little curiosity – in the more modern versions, the timing drive is realized with gears.
The most common power variants of this 5-cylinder engines in passenger cars are 140 HP (Volvo) and 163 or 174 HP (VW Touareg). On the other hand, in Transporter / Multivan models from Volkswagen there were versions from 88–150 HP (T4), in the oldest cars powered by the distributor by an injection pump. In the T5 generation, unit injectors and versions of 131 or 174 HP were already used.
The last company to use a 5-cylinder engine is Audi, although this only applies to sports versions, very demanding and mainly due to tradition – the first Audi Quattro had such an engine. However, the fate of this engine will soon be sealed.
It looks a bit different from the point of view of an older car user. As a rule, these are durable, powerful 5-cylinder engines that are characterized by good sound and relatively low operating and repair costs compared to the V6, equipped with two heads and often two turbochargers. There are still many cars on the secondary market with 5-cylinder engines. Some are worth looking for even at the expense of a smaller selection of cars, and others are best avoided from a distance.