• Mar 18, 2010
Turning the past completely upside down, four cylinder engines marched up ten percent to further solidify the market dominance of lower cylinder count powertrains. According to Ward's Automotive, nearly 62 percent of cars produced in 2009 carried four bangers, up ten percent in just a year from 2008's 51.7 percent. Despite the V8 engine's precipitous fall from a high of being fitted to 88 percent of all cars sold in 1969, there's a sweet spot for the smaller powerplants, too.

Numbers are up for engines below 3.0 liters, while displacements smaller than 2.0 liters actually saw a decline for 2009. While engines between 2.0 and 2.9 liters are perhaps not as exciting as the typically larger V6 and V8 engines, they're less expensive and can still provide satisfying performance thanks to improvements like direct injection and forced induction. It's also worth noting that production numbers for trucks dropped for 2009, as well, skewing numbers further in favor of smaller engines.

Ward's comprehensive analysis of different engine sizes and types and their market share and volume lays it out for you in the link below. Either way, we suspect that the garages of car nuts are still filled with a majority of high-performance engines, regardless of displacement or cylinder count.

[Source: Ward's Automotive]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 81 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hahahaha!

      You Americans need to wait until "gas" is $7 a gallon like it is here in Europe. Then you'll see why no matter how good your V8 powerplant is, it simply isn't worth it.

      Still don't understand why you need all that power anyway - most of your roads are straight and flat.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Joanna D, just as England =/= Europe; America =/= Montana.

        Let's not make carpet statements. They just make you look like a brainless tool.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Because the US has been transmission deficient for at least twenty years. [but we are catching up]

        When the 5 speed automatic was introduced 1989/1990/1991 jatco/ZF/M-B 3 speed automatics were still around and kicking.
        When the 6 speed automatic was introduced roughly a decade later, 4 speed automatics were still commonplace.
        7 speed automatics M-B, JATCO (3 versions), DSI?
        8 speed automatics Aisin (2 versions), ZF, coming soon [Hyundai powertech, GM, Chrysler, Chinese]

        As far as manual transmissions are concerned, you don't need to have top speed in top gear. But too many vehicles only had/have 5 forward gears.

        The Corvette 4+3 was ridiculous.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Alex:

        "Let's not make carpet statements. They just make you look like a brainless tool. "

        Very true, but one thing I still don't understand after driving in at least 25 states for nine years in U.S. - why does average American driver (more than average, about 85-90% of them) need horsepower when they have no use of acceleration? Merging on a freeway at speeds between 20 and 40 mph slower than traffic, leaving traffic light and hitting 35 mph after half a mile? They would do just fine with 120 bhp in a Tahoe, what's the use for all that extra horsepower?

        That's what I don't understand.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Aprime

        That's why you'll stay broke and working.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's pretty simple. People need 270HP V6s in their Camrys because their neighbor (or last car) had a 240HP V6. That one has 240HP because their neighbor (or last car) had 200HP... Until people can't afford to buy (and fuel) more and more powerful engines, power levels will continue to rise.

        That's how the V8 was ubiquitous in 1969 and it's how high-power engines are popular now. People are always very receptive to "more" and marketing people are fairly adept at figuring out how to sell "more".
        • 4 Years Ago
        The only reason gas in that expensive in YUROP to begin with is because of your ill-thinking *gotta plan everything I can* governments.

        You're reaping what you're sowing at the pumps (actually when it comes to buying anything, period).

        It's not about need, it was never about [f'ing] need, it's about what I want and what I'm willing to pay for it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If I want to tow, I need a V8. End of story.
      Tim
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've gotta admin last year I bought my 6-cylinder vehicle(Altima Coupe 3.5SE). I admit it's fun as hell to drive.

      But it's a pain paying so much for gas and it's burns through tires(270HP on a FWD car).

      I'm even considering trading it in...for the 4cyl version...
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Tim
        That motor is not a great example. It's a freakin' truck motor now. They sized it up too many times, now it doesn't run smoothly as it used to and it's very thirsty. Time for Nissan to start over with a new design.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Tim
        Totally agree with ls2ls7.
        The original 3.0 was a killer motor, they've really f'ed it now.
        Fuel economy in that motor is not stellar either. Better motors exist, for sure.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Tim
        A DI turbo 2.0?

        Oh noes, that would be horrible ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Tim
        You had better watch out, Nissan might just drop the VQ35 from the Altima entirely.
        In its place would be a direct injection turbo QR20 I4.

      • 4 Years Ago
      we've been here before in the 70's, so just keep repeating to yourself...this too shall pass...this too shall pass....this too shall pass
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's not just the saudis saying that, all the major oil companies have predicted peak oil to hit anywhere from 2009-2020.

        They could be lying to us, but history has shown that oil supplies are typically overestimated rather than underestimated, until new drilling techniques are found, but quite frankly, some of our techniques we have right now are totally desperate. The stuff just doesn't ooze out of the ground anymore like a fire hydrant.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wouldn't believe anything from anyone regarding oil and peak oil. There is so much disinformation out there it is laughable. The more people chatter about Peak Oil, the more the Saudis can justify higher oil prices. You simply can't trust anyone because the sources of how much oil exists is in private hands owned by corporations.
        • 4 Years Ago
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1973_oil_crisis
        Actually, that was a political problem. Not a drilling or oil supply problem.

        http://green.autoblog.com/2010/03/18/kuwaiti-study-conventional-oil-to-peak-in-2014/
        Even the saudis are worried about oil.

        It really is time to start conserving, especially since china and India are rapidly becoming more motorized and demand is rapidly growing due to that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I dunno, lighter is better. Most people don't realistically hit the top speeds that large displacement engines give you. If the car is made well, a 4cyl can match the acceleration of its larger brethren, and can definitely outhandle them (i.e. Lotus).
        • 4 Years Ago
        You know I keep hearing that, yet the fact remains that these small, less powerfull cars just do not keep up at the track with big V8 cars. A Lotus Exige with it's turbocharged 4 cylinder is not as fast as a Corvette on a track any bigger than 1.5 miles (stock car vs stock car). There is definately something to be said of lightweight, but let's not pretend that power doesn't matter either.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In shopping for a car/CUV, it's been really hard to find a Malibu, an Equinox, or a Terrain with a V-6. Call me a child of the 60s or environmentally irresponsible, but I like big engines. I learned to drive on a '73 Buick LeSabre with a 350 cu. in., 2 barrel carb. V-8, and it was underpowered. It either needed a 400 cu. in. V-8 or a 4 barrel carb.

      Even though the technology is dated, I still think one of the best engines ever designed was the GM 3.8L V-6. Yes, it is a pushrod engine, but it was smooth, powerful, and fuel efficient.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like my sixes like my pancakes. Flat and hot, baby. With some sweetness on top.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm European, but I've lived in the US for 9 years. What I find shocking is the massive disparity in commercial vehicle sizes. Here, if you need to haul a big load, you get a Ford Transit with a 2.3 diesel. Also, why aren't diesels standard on trucks? AFAIK they are only really competitive in large trucks, but they would be perfect in smaller ones.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Why aren't diesels standard on trucks?"

        Because car companies suck, that's why! :)

        They just don't sell that type of vehicle here. Most car companies steer businesses towards the midsized trucks and vans. I'm starting to see Ford Connect vans around, and they seem like the right size for running light loads around town.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All you are debating at this point is the SOUND of the motor. A you can get a ridiculous amount of horsepower out of a turbo 4. Just add a bigger turbo and up the boost. Yes, I know there is a slight lag...but you can get rid of that with twin turbos...like Ford has brought in on the V6
        • 4 Years Ago
        Only 22 MPG in a 190 HP 2003 Camry?

        I am getting 25 MPG in my 200 HP 1997 Le Sable (although I was hoping 28 that the dealer promised me). I keep my RPM under 2000 when I drive on the highway. Can't beat the old 3800 push-rod.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'll take that straight 6 over a 5 any day of the week!

        And my E60/N52 replacing a E39/M52 proves it!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I disagree with that statement. In addition to having better engine notes, six and eight cylinder engines will always have much smoother power delivery than a turbo 4. The bigger your turbo gets, the more pronounced the lag becomes.

        Also, six and eight cylinder engines will have lower NVH levels than four cylinder engines. Four cylinders means one combustion stroke per crankshaft rotation. Sure, you can add balance shafts but vibrations increase geometrically with RPM so there is no way to truly get rid of it, especially in high-revving motors.

        I agree that four cylinder engines are good in many applications but there are some limitations to them that people always seem to forget.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you are worried about lag, you can do it with two turbo chargers. Ford is doing that now. Direct injection and Turbo charging can comfortably produce 300 HP with today's four cylinder motors. There are guys pulling 500-600 HP out of the Mopar 2.4 l block.

        I still love the V-8 and yes, there are some disadvantages with 4 cylinder engines. However, fuel economy is the biggest plus. Hyundai is getting 190 HP out of its Direct Injection 4 and it gets 35MPG highway. My parents 2003 Camry has a 190 HP V6 that averages about 22 on the highway. That is a lot of progress.

        Unfortunately though, with the homogenizing of everything you are going to get less and less engine choices.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Even firing 4 cylinder engines have terrible inertial torsional vibrational issues.
        All the pistons/connecting rods come to a stop every 180 degrees.

        That is bad for extreme high revving power, as seen by the change of racing motorcycles to the 'howler' crankshaft configuration. Only 2 piston/rod assemblies are stopped simultaneously.

        3 & 5 cylinders are better. A 3 has slightly better manifolding than a 4, but a 4 has better manifolding than a 5.
        An inline5 has better torsional vibration characteristics than an inline6, but the inline6 is inherently balanced & has better manifolding.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Why I like V8's best:
      1. From my experience, they simply last longer than I4's and V6's.
      2. The V8 exhaust note.

      That's pretty much it.

      Ok, realistically, yeah, I know they can put a 4cyl. in most cars, that would give you sufficient power but, I for one, will not tolerate "sufficient" power. Also, if you boost the output of a small engine to make big power, there's a trade-off in durability. And if you use forced induction, you lose most of your economy if the go-go pedal spends too much time near the floor. ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        Like the V6 in the Grand National's. Yeah, it put out V8-like power but I gotta say, I don't think I've ever seen one make it much beyond 60,000 miles without some sort of engine work.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have to agree on the robust character of V8s. I have a '92 F-150 with the 351 Windsor with 300,000+ miles on the odometer. Still pulls like it ever did. Still, its just a second vehicle; I wouldn't want to run it daily (14mpg).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. Big time. My '90 5.0 notch has over 300,000 miles on original motor and tranny, still runs low 13's with ease. My 2006 WRX is sweet, love it, but it only gets a mile or 2 more to the gallon than the Stang with only half the motor. Hard to stay outta the boost when your daily driver for years was a 5.0 - no way I see that boosted boxer 4 making it to 300K miles though, but I'm gonna try.
        • 4 Years Ago
        true, but wasn't that car made in the 80's?

        A v6 with v8 power was a real stretch back then.

        In contrast, look at some of the v6's in Japanese cars from the mid 00's which have been incredibly reliable.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Modern engines are way more powerful than engines back in 1969 so this is no suprise.

      As long as the performance is there I could almost care less how many cylinders are under the hood.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I still hate four cylinder engines. I like the torque of the push-rod V6 & V8s.
      • 4 Years Ago
      People still like their V6s & V8s, it is just that the automakers haven't downsized the displacement.
      Small engine + big transmission :)

      When is the VQ25 V6 powered Infiniti G-sedan coming to market?
      before or after the Iran attack (before or after another false flag?)
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