Downsizing. Costa Rica market prefers cars with small engines

Vehicles with engines between 1,500cc and 2,000cc were the majority in inspections at Riteve during 2018. Its popularity is related to the phenomenon of "downsizing"


Smaller engines are in. All car brands follow the trend of doing more with less by applying downsizing to their engines. The phenomenon became widespread in 2014 among large automotive factories and since then has generated models with high-quality features and engines that consume less and less fuel.

Small engines are in. The Nissan Kicks is powered by a 1.6L gasoline engine motor and generates 125 hp and 115 lb-ft/155 Nm torque.

Turbocharge, hybridize, automatic controls and other technological innovations improve the performance and efficiency of the smaller engines. The phenomenon even includes the best-selling car category in the world, the SUV, which traditionally required larger engines, to maximize the weight-to-power ratio.

Currently, the most popular brands of SUV in Costa Rica offer models with engines from 1.4L, which according to technical estimates nu the of the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje (INA) – National Institute of Learning – could yield 16 or 17 kilometers per liter of gasoline, in combined city and highway driving.


Octavio Jiménez, administrative manager of Corporacion Educativa Automotriz (CEA) – Automotive Education Corporation – told ElFinancierio that although the trend towards smaller engines is growing, even the bulk of the all-terrain category is in the range of 2L to 3.5L.

Electric cars with their exonerations are expected to be a hit at the Expomovil 2019

In Costa Rica, the success of the phenomenon of downsizing is reflected in the preferences of consumers, since most of the cars through Riteve in 2018 had an engine between 1.5L and 2L.

According to Riteve figures, in 2018, almost 760,000 cars attended the first vehicular inspection and about 54,600 new car registration inspections were carried out. In the end, more than 270,000 had engines of 1.5L, 1.6L and 1.8L, while some 350,000 or about 43% of the total, add the 2L engine.

The engine size is expected to be one of the fundamental considerations of purchase for those attending Expomóvil 2019 (March 14 to 24). Smaller engines consume less fuel, therefore, it will have a lower impact on the post-purchase budget.

Fuel economy is based on engine size and other variables like driving habits…

In addition to smaller engine size, there are at least five conditions external to the engine that are key to boost fuel efficiency in an environment such as the Greater Metropolitan Area of San Jose (GAM):

  1. Moderate driving: Take it easy on the pedal. Accelerate smoothly and anticipate braking. Consumption increases at speeds above 80 km/h. Driving like an F1 racer is not the best way to save on fuel.
  2. Light load: Avoid excess weight in the vehicle or distribute it evenly inside the vehicle
  3. Periodic tuning: Keep the car with the engine tuned and adequate and service periodically.
  4. Wheel Alignment and balancing: Errors in this area can cause greater resistance to the bearing, which translates into a greater consumption of gasoline.
  5. Correct tire pressure: The right tires for each model of car and inflated correctly improve gasoline consumption. It is advisable to check the inflation every 15 days, at ambient temperature.

To the extent that the local market recognizes the benefits, characteristics and requirements of the models with smaller engines, and the offer of models is strengthened in all segments, the phenomenon of downsizing could define the future of the automotive market in Costa Rica.

The 1974 Chevrolet Impala came standard with 250 cu in (4.1 L) Inline Six or the option 350 cu in (5.7 L) Turbo Fire V8 all the way to the 454 cu in (7.4 L) Turbo-Jet V8. Fuel economy was not conscience of car buyers of the time.

Have you made the move to smaller engine size? Share your story below or to our official Facebook page.