Like Bob Dole for erectile dysfunction (ED), I have taken on the job of educating you about a disease ravaging the auto industry: TME, the acronym for Too Much Engine.
Auto makers afflicted with TME take perfectly good vehicles and wedge in engines that are too large or too powerful, frequently ruining vehicle dynamics.
TME can afflict any auto maker of any size and origin. Manufacturers from Europe, Japan and the U.S. all are equally at risk.
The most prevalent carriers of TME are misguided product planners and marketing dweebs, but technical types such as chief engineers also can spread the disease.
This year, as a result of a decade or more of ongoing horsepower battles in the U.S., there are widespread cases of TME.
General Motors Corp. was stricken several times with TME. Its Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS and Grand Prix GXP are Frankenstein's monsters thanks to the unholy fitment of a 5.3L small-block V-8 that drives the front wheels.
Moreover, drivers of these become afflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome, as their wrists strain in the vain attempt to control torque steer (that's a cause for another spokesperson).
Low-volume performance-division vehicles usually get a pass on this type of criticism because it is part of their mission statement to create insanely powerful engines.
They also usually have the budget and resources to reengineer the platform to a point where it can accommodate nutty levels of horsepower and torque. In the case of the BMW M5 and Audi S4 (one of our 10 Best Engines winners), it works out brilliantly.
But when auto makers try to drop big engines into less-modified chassis, it frequently becomes a disease that kills a vehicle's reflexes. Just because an idea works in a few applications does not make it a formula for success.
Stuffing in a larger engine frequently makes no sense, Judge Visnic says.
Audi AG suffers from TME with the A4. This otherwise wieldy and desirable compact sport sedan turns into a slug when the too-large 3.2L DOHC V-6 is installed without appropriate ministrations to the rest of the platform. Steering sharpness is destroyed, as is any semblance of balance.
Nobody supports righteous horsepower more than the people who annually bring you the Ward's 10 Best Engines awards, but power fever is affecting everyone's judgment: TME is everywhere.
How else to explain a Jeep Grand Cherokee with an iron-block 6.1L Hemi V-8 and 420 hp? Same for Porsche Cayenne Turbo and virtually every new Mercedes-Benz AMG vehicle.
Just because an engine can be crammed in does not mean it makes sense to do so.
There currently is no cure for TME. Sadly, precious product-development dollars are wasted every year to create vehicles with TME, money that could be used for better interiors and electronics that work.
Alas, critics believe TME likely never will be eradicated as long as there are customers afflicted with TMDI: Too Much Discretionary Income.