Chevy Cobalt Engine Options: A Brief Summary

Published: 10th September 2010
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There are at least five popular engine options for the Chevy Cobalt, and the good news is that most of the engines are interchangeable with a very minimum amount of work. This interchangeability is due to Chevy’s design philosophy and the fact that Chevy engines built from the same blocks can very different and unique. The different engines that can be crafted from the same engine block and placed into a Chevy Cobalt can produce dramatically different results in terms of performance as well as fuel economy and overall reliability.

The 2.2L Ecotec inline 4-cylinder, also referred to as the L61, is the default engine that powers the base Chevy Cobalt. This engine is reasonably powerful for day to day uses, and even sufficient for freeway speeds. The L61 is available in different tunes, and can produce between 145 and 148 horsepower along with 155 lb-ft of torque. The L61 is generally regarded as one of the more reliable Chevy engines around, but it was actually replaced some a better motor in 2009. The new 2.2L Ecotec that Chevy started putting in their Cobalts in 2009 was referred to as the LAPI4, but it is worth noting that the Ecotec LE5 was also an option for 2007 and 2008 Cobalts.

The L6 remains one of the more affordable engines for a Cobalt, but the LAP and LE5 Ecotec motors generally provide better performance and higher overall reliability. The LAP Ecotec displaces 2.2 liters, and offers a higher overall horsepower output of 155 with a reduce torque curve that tops out at 155 lb-ft of torque. This combination proved popular with many drivers despite the slightly flatter torque curve. Mechanics tend to appreciate the implementation of variable valve timing and other cylinder head modifications on the LAP series of Ecotec motors, which are regarded as some of the easiest Chevy engines to work on.

The 2.4L LE5 series Ecotech motors became available as a slightly more upscale engine option in the 2006 model year, and appealed to those Cobalt buyers that wanted a little extra power. The 171 horsepower that was on tap from the 2.4L LE5 proved sufficient for many commuters during 2006 and 2007, and Chevrolet even produced a limited run of SS badged Cobalts in 2008 that had a slightly tuned version of the LE5 that featured 173 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. Believe it or not, the SS-tuned LE5 was not as torque as the non-SS tuned versions, but many people simply look at horsepower figures when trying to determine how quick any given model is.

On the subject of speed, the Chevy Cobalt came with a factory-tuner SS version. The SS version initially started with a modestly tuned and supercharged 2.0L Ecotec referred to internally as the LSJ S/C I4 Ecotec. Chevrolet went with the smaller displacement in an effort to create a lighter motor that would rev quickly through gears. The Initial engine was certainly powerful, with 205 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque on tap, but it was nothing like what was coming next: the Ecotec LNF Turbo model 2.0L.

GM had been cooking up a number of high performance vehicles, such as the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice, that used the same fundamental block as the Chevy Cobalt. Other larger vehicles using larger motors could also benefit from a new generation of Chevy engines that used the same basic Ecotec block paired with forced induction to achieve greater performance while getting better fuel mileage. The result was a 260 horsepower 2.0L turbocharged motor that fit well into the Chevy Cobalt. While forced induction reduces the lifespan of any motor, turbocharging is far healthier for motors than supercharging them. This puts the LNF Tubro I4 as the top of the line motor for performance enthusiasts, but it does put it next to last in terms of overall reliability. That is not to imply that the LNF Ecotecs were not reliable, but the massive increase in overall output does come at a cost.

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