.... I hate to bring up a ghost from the past, but the pre-1974 Pinto's came with both 1.6L and a 2.0L, the 1.6L were known for short lives (strangely enough they were also a Brit designed engine) while the 2.0L were known for having very few problems because they had enough torque to move the vehicle without constantly hitting 4000 RPM.
I agree. I'm not making fun of looking down on Escape owners with the 1.6 Ecoboost but a 1.6 four banger powering a a 3500 lbs car like the Escape does sound a bit much. That same 1.6 engine in something like the Fiesta makes sense but it's a bit small for the Escape. As you said @jpohlman
, in order for the 1.6 liter to gave the same power as a 2.0 or even the 2.5 liter engine means that it has to work harder since it is a smaller engine.....
IMHO it is rather silly to allude to a 40-year old design in reference to current technology (and disingenuous to grossly oversimplify the comparative problems of '74 vintage 1.6 and 2.0 as being solely a function of displacement and torque). There is simply no meaningful basis for comparing '74 era engines and current designs in a discussion about 'longevity' of the latter.
I predict that the future of internal combustion vehicles will in large part evolve toward using engines in a way that they are almost constantly 'working hard'. That is, the engines will run at peak power and efficiency almost constantly, either delivering motive power directly to the drivetrain or delivering that power to energy storage strategies, either kinetic, potential or a combination of the two.
The point is, old notions of engines 'working too hard' are rapidly losing credence and applicability, and to a very great extent are inapplicable already. Smaller engines working 'harder' are ultimately more efficient in terms of converting fuel energy into motive force. Advances on many fronts from metallurgy (and non-metal materials science) to cooling strategies to lubricant properties and even production techniques have rendered old notions about 'working hard' vs 'longevity' completely outdated.
The features of engine design and build that bear on longevity are changing very rapidly these days. Fortunately, the process of engine development has also become much more efficient by virtue of very sophisticated computer modeling, prototyping and production techniques. That means that old notions about the 'longevity' of designs necessary to realize pay-back are also becoming dated .... no one should be surprised to find manufacturers more and more willing and able to 'abandon' designs more quickly than in the past in order to take advantage of rapid advances in technology, particularly as it relates to end-product operating efficiency.
I'm not suggesting that the current 1.6 EcoBoost is a miracle engine or a be-all-end-all. Nor am I suggesting that any specific implementation or model-run is without problems. I am suggesting that it is a significantly advanced engine design in comparison to many of the other current production engines, even those offered by Ford (2.5 non-EcoBoost) and certainly more advanced than even recent earlier engines. IMHO there is no basis for drawing conclusions or making predictions about it's "longevity" based on comparison to those 'old' technologies and notions tied to those technologies .... it is different enough that it will have to prove its own record, and in so doing will likely shatter more of the entrenched ideas about 'small engines working harder'.
When I was born Ford was still producing the long-lived flathead V8 and those confounded complex OHV engines were still earning 'credibility'. IMHO we are now in an era of more rapid and radical positive advances in vehicle internal combustion gasoline engines than ever in my life. We 'olde skoolers' are going to have to let go of a lot of 'olde notions' lest we be left behind in a could of dust ('cause these newfangled engines sure aren't gonna bury us in a cloud of smoke ;-)