4 cylinder cars


I drive alot about 35,000 miles a year, I do alot of highway miles I am looking to buy a new car and would like to know if a 4 cyl. car will be reliable enough to last 5 yrs of driving.I presently have a 6 cyl car and have about 217000 miles on it a chrysler 300, 2001


Frankly the number of cylinders has little to do with longevity. More cylinders mean more moving parts that can fail. fewer cylinders often means smaller engine and may may more wear.

The most important step in getting a long life out of a car is luck, followed by proper maintenance and proper driving. I would put the choice of the car further down the list.

One problem with judging which car today will give a long service life based on the specific make and model is that you have to judge cars that have a history of long life, which means you are looking at cars that have not been made for years.

I would not choose a car based on the number of cylinders, or engine size, but rather I choose one I like and that I believe will give ME a long life. That same car in the hands of someone else who dives it differently, might not give them a long life.

My suggestion is to get a car YOU really like and keep up the maintenance.  I don't think you will go wrong.  

Again, long life has much more to do with you than with the car.

You can take a look at Consumer Reports that can give you some information, but remember those cars are not the car you are going to buy unless you are going to buy used.


Not all 4 cyl. motors are created equal. I’m not certain you’d get the 4 cyl. motor in a Neon or other Chrysler car to go the distance. There are lots of Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Saturn, 4 cyl. going way past 200K without major issues. Buy a good car based on reviews like Consumer Reports and maintain it properly and you will find a 4 cyl. motor will hold up to your use just fine.


As others say, forget about the number of cylinders; that was an issue 50 years ago when small engines did not last long.

If you drive that much per year, some comfort is in order. If I was in your position, the following cars are comfortable enough and will last up to 400,000 miles with your type of driving, if maintained well.

  1. Toyota Corolla

  2. Honda Civic

  3. Hyundai Elantra

  4. Mazda 3.

Five years of driving is only 175,000 miles. If that’s all you are putting on before trading, a Ford Focus, Nissan Sentra, Chevrolet Cobalt would also be a good vehicle. They might give you less trade-in value after 5 years.

All the above cars will likely be more reliable and cost less to maintain than your Chrysler 300.


The 4cyl is enjoying a sort of revival these days. With direct injection they are producing enough power that some manufactures are dropping those stuffed in V-6’s from their option sheets.

Don’t judge todays 4cyl cars by experiences you have had in the past (that is unless you searh out for another Neon quality 4cyl, you can probably still find junk 4cyl engines but you have many more to chose from today.

4cyl engines are going to extend the life of the IC engine (that is the period we have them for our use).


You drive so much that you should consider maintenance costs before you buy. The list below comes from Edmunds True Cost to Own.

focus $2,770
sentra $3,334
mazda3 $3,434
civic $3,463
elantra $3,814
cobalt $4,190
corolla $4,797

These are cost estimates for the first 5 years for a 2010 model. While the Corolla’s reliability is excellent, the cost to maintain it is immense compared to the others. Sure, it’s only $2000 more than the Focus, but their figures are for 15,000 miles per years. You need to double it. And I suspect that these figures are more accurate than those for repairs, since they only have to look at the owner’s manual and estimate the price for the services listed. That $4000 more than makes up for the slightly lower reliability that some of these cars exhibit.


Yes, a 4 cylinder car will last you five years, especially if it is from a reliable automaker.


Honda has made 4 cyl race car engines for many years and uses that technology in their car motors. I think they can handle it. Chevy Malibu and Ford products are likewise, finally stepping up to the plate and offering high performance and reliable 4 cyls as well. The economy demands it. The question you have to answer is; “Are you willing to match the power to weight ratio of some lesser powered 4 cyls to get the performance you want ?” A heavier car with a small engine is more problematic. Yet, the Malibu, Accord, Camry, Fords and others are perfectly adequate for your demands in 4 cyl.


It isn’t Chrysler’s engines that are renowned for their ability to fail, it’s the transmissions. DOHC manual Neon isn’t a bad car.


You might want to take Edmunds True Cost to Own with a large grain of salt as they include depreciation and use sticker price. If you will drive a car for enough miles, depreciation is not significant and you may be able to do better regarding the final purchase price with some brands.


While the Corolla’s reliability is excellent, the cost to maintain it is immense compared to the others. Sure, it’s only $2000 more than the Focus, but their figures are for 15,000 miles per years.

As a Toyota owner, I couldn’t agree more. You really have to pick and choose what you want serviced by dealer or independent, and what not. Leave up to Toyota dealers and you might as well buy multiple Fords or Chevys for the price of one Toyota.


“You might want to take Edmunds True Cost to Own with a large grain of salt…”

They are the only ones that attempt to estimate all the major costs among all the reviewers. And maintenance is the easiest to do, since they only have to look at the owner’s manual to figure it out. Here’s what Edmunds says about their method:

This is the estimated expense of the two types of maintenance: scheduled and unscheduled. Scheduled maintenance is the performance of factory-recommended items at periodic mileage and/or calendar intervals. Unscheduled maintenance includes wheel alignment and the replacement of items such as the battery, brakes, headlamps, hoses, exhaust system parts, taillight/turn signal bulbs, tires and wiper blades/inserts. Estimated tire replacement costs are supplied to Edmunds.com by The Tire Rack, Inc.

And the cost will be high no matter where you get the work done, because Edmunds estimates the cost the same way for all cars.


My 4-cylinder '89 Toyota pickup had 338,000 miles with no major work when it got totalled. My '91 Camry had 240,000 miles without major work when I gave it to my son.

A properly designed, manufactured, treated and maintained 4-cylinder will last indefinitely. I’ve never worn one out.

A poorly designed, manufactured, treated or maintained engine of any size will not last a long life.

Ignore the number of cylinders. Buy the Consumer Reports New Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore. Play the statistics. CR isn’t perfect, but it’s the most comprehensive reliability data published.


After all the highway driving you do, do you not want to stay with a 6 that gets good mileage? They are out there. I was in a job in which I drove about 50,000 a year and there were times when my 6 cyl got me out of jambs simply because they accelerate now. And I still got 30 mpg.


Jobs assigned to yesterdays V-6’s are being well handeled by todays (2010) 4cyl’s and so much more room to work on (if anyone ever has too).


Amen to that. V engines should only be longitudinally mounted.


Amen to both your comment and Oldschool’s.

Anything involving rear banks on a transverse mounted V6 is generally a pain. Badly packaged ones are even worse.