Mini Cooper four-cylinder engine - Click above for high-res image

Back in 2008, skyrocketing gasoline prices sent car buyers in search of efficient four-cylinder vehicles. As the numbers show, sales of V6 and V8 engines dropped from 63.9 percent to 57.1 percent during the gas price hike. This was part of a trend, as sales of V6- and V8-equipped models have shifted downward, falling from a five-year high of 76.2 percent back in 2004.

With gasoline prices dropping, surely 2009 would be a better year for the large displacement engines, right? Nope. The numbers show yet another decline. The latest data is in and, in the car segment, the four-cylinder has become the engine of choice.

At 61.9 percent of total passenger car sales, the once lowly four-cylinder is now on top by a wide margin. Compared to 2008 numbers of 51.7 percent, the four-cylinder engine displayed market gains unheard of in previous years. In addition, the once-dominant V8 now represents only 4.9 percent of the passenger car market, way down from its 88.9 percent share back in 1969.

Larger four-cylinder engines have slowly replaced V6 and V8 models. Four-cylinder engines with a displacement of 2.0 to 2.9 liters encountered the largest increase in the passenger vehicle category, while smaller four-cylinder engines, those below 2.0 liters, saw a slight decline.

There was a time when owners bragged about their powerful V8 engine, but now the numbers show that most are content with just the lowly four-banger.

[Source: Wards Auto - sub. req.]

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