Is there a big difference between a v4 and v6 for defensive driving?

Hi everyone!

Could you help me out by answering a few questions? I could use your opinions!

How important is acceleration in defensive driving? If someone were extremely concerned with safety (because there’s a baby in the car, for instance) would it be worth sacrificing fuel efficiency for the extra power of a V6 engine? Also, what would you recommend as the safest used car under $15,000?


"How important is acceleration in defensive driving? " Not important at all…

The Taurus v4 used in early SAABs were the last I can remember.
As far as 4cylinder vs 6cylinder, a decent power to weight ratio is necessary for safe acceleration along with good traction regardless of the number of cylinders. That is a deciding factor if you are arguing that a safer car is one with decent acceleration. There are plenty of safe used cars with good acceleration under $15000. Honda Accords come to mind. You have to include reasonable body mass too and not just fast cars.there are many factors to a safe car but a safe driver is the most important.

Acceleration can be very important if the semi that hasn’t noticed the red light is barreling down on you. There have been a number of times when accelerating quickly has prevented me from getting in an accident.

Now, regarding 4 vs 6. It would be really good if someone shot the automotive marketers who make such a big deal out of the number of cylinders. My 4 cylinder Toyota MR2 is significantly faster than a Duesenburg Model J, which had 8. In more modern comparisons, the 4 cylinder Honda S2000 will outrun an 8 cylinder Crown Victoria.

In short, number of cylinders is absolutely no indication of how fast a car is. What you want to look for when you want to know how fast a car accelerates is the 0-60 time. “Fast” these days is generally considered to be anything below 5 seconds. (For the record, I think this is insane - 5-7 seconds is plenty fast enough for normal street driving. 5 second 0-60 times used to be the realm of Lamborghinis and Ferraris. Your 4 door family car does not need to move that fast, ever).

In the same vein, the number of cylinders does not indicate fuel efficiency. The 4-cylinder Ford Escape I drive at work gets almost the same mileage as my 6-cylinder Acura TL. And the TL is faster and doesn’t break all the time, unlike the Ford. :wink:

In short, you need to look at the individual numbers for the cars you’re looking at rather than worrying about how many cylinders it has.

As to safety, most modern cars are going to be very safe. Even the ones that get a mid-range safety rating are exponentially safer than the cars you rode around in when you were a kid. Wrecks which would have killed you 20 years ago are now survivable to the point that you can walk away from them.

If a car doesn’t meet (high) minimum safety standards, it’s forbidden from being sold in this country. So my recommendation would be to find a car you like, and buy it.

15 grand can easily get you a quick car. You could probably get that Acura TL I mentioned for around that. Look for a 2006-2008 model year - they’re very nice cars, have fantastic features, are roomy, and from personal experience I can say that they’re quite a bit faster than the official numbers claim in acceleration while still getting 29-32mpg highway.

Being able to get out of the way of danger through rapid acceleration can be just as important as having strong brakes. So, yes, you will have an extra margin of safety with a more powerful engine.

As to a V-4, there are none on the market currently, and they haven’t been offered for many years. Most modern 4-cylinder cars have an I-4 engine, which means that the cylinders are arranged “in-line”, unlike the old V-4s that had the cylinders arranged in a V-pattern. There are also H-4 engines, with the cylinders arranged in pairs, and horizontally opposed.

As to, “The Taurus v4 used in early SAABs were the last I can remember”, that was the German-made Ford TAUNUS, not the Taurus, dagosa:

If someone were extremely concerned with safety (because there’s a baby in the car, for instance) would it be worth sacrificing fuel efficiency for the extra power of a V6 engine?

Why not spend the money on improved occupant protection in the event of a collision rather than attempting to mitigate such a limited exposure? Acceleration solves very few of the total potential risks and is further reduced by the possibility you will ever see it coming and can react in time. Frankly, it sounds like the logic a teenager might be inclined to offer if asked why they want the bigger engine…

Defensive driving is basically being aware of what is happening around you and making sure your not causing problems for other drivers. As for cylinder count, not relevant.

Defensive driving is a state of mind and attitude as well as learned skills. It has very little to do with what power you have under the hood. I had a friend in the 60s who drove a 38 HP VW bug very defensively and safely. His record was flawless.

Hmmmm. That’s why I had the two stroke. I thought they were trying to sell me a Ford, slip of the mind. I tried one out buy opt for the two stoke ( cheap) the v4 was definitely the better motor and much stronger. I should have bought it. The two stroke was unsafe over 50 mph because it was so underpowered for the highways at higher speeds. This is especially true with the three speed column shifter. Should have checked Wikipedia…

@Windroot, as you see here, the answer to your question is No, 4 cylinders or 6 do not matter with respect to defensive driving.

IMHO, that single biggest factor in defensive driving is looking ahead, far ahead, then near, and in the rearview mirrors, and from side to side, OFTEN while driving. This is called situational awareness and it will save your life (and baby’s life) better than a bigger engine.

Being able to accelerate quickly does help with safety in some circumstances, such as merging onto a busy highway with a short entrance ramp or passing slower traffic on a two-lane road. Regardless of the number of cylinders, you need to decide during the test drive if the car has enough power to do these things easily or not.

If you can come up with say $19,500, take a new Chevy Cruze 1.4T out for a spin…This is a 4 cylinder car with PLENTY of zip, gets 45 mpg and has all the latest safety features. Plus it comes with a new car warranty…You will be surprised…

One thing that needs consideration here is that the days of 4-cylinder cars that can’t get out of their own way are largely over. Most family-sized cars (Accord, Camry, etc…) have 4-cylinder engines in the 2.5 liter range and have enough torque and transmission that they can scoot pretty good. Shoot…Many six-cylinder cars these days have nearly 300 horsepower! A 2014 V-6 Accord would probably blow the doors off of many V-8 sports cars from the 1980s. As for defensive driving…Yeah there are situations when having some extra power is nice, but I drive 40’ long school buses safely, and those things certainly won’t run 5 second 0-60 times.

defensive driving is only necessary because of the high number of offensive drivers on the road today. my advice is to not drive scared. good acceleration can make you feel safer and less fearful. the only way to get over the fear, which most new drivers feel, is experience. stay away from dangerous roads until you feel comfortable driving in traffic. always try to leave a buffer zone around your vehicle. never tailgait and look far ahead so you will see trouble coming.

Cylinder count is totally unimportant in defensive driving.
Defensive driving means constantly anticipating the worst, leaving yourself plenty of room to deal with it, and never assuming others will do the smart thing. You don’t need extra power to do this.

I spent many times more than the required 40 hours with my daughter when she was learning to drive. I often told her that every single time she went out on the road she’d see at least one driver around her do something stupid, even if she was only driving to the corner store. I pointed out to her that the difference between getting in accidents and not having any is assuming that everyone else would do dumb things. Then whenever we went out together, I pointed out all the dumb things I saw drivers do that could result in an accident. I had no problem finding plenty to point out. Normally I simply react and move on, but when I started paying attention I was actually surprised at how many there were. Drivers pulling up to stop signs while chatting on the phone, then driving through them in front of me, people making lefts in front of us without looking, people backing into the road without looking, and on and on. 45++ years of driving has taught me to anticipate these things, and I normally steer clear of the possible consequences before the consequences happen, but there are loose nuts behind an awful lot of steering wheels.

I think adequate acceleration is important for safety. But it doesn’t have to be super high. Too much acceleration might be worse that not enough safety-wise in fact. An acceleration spec between 9-10 seconds over 0-60 mph is adequate for safety in my opinion. Even most modern econo-boxes will meet that spec or come very close.

Being able to accelerate with adequacy not only depends upon the power to weight ratio, but also the available traction. In the winter, AWD cars even with lower powered motors out accelerate the most powerful 2wd car in snow. Add the appropriate tires, and you are even further ahead.

Defensive driving is all about your state of mind and has almost nothing to do with the car you drive or the size of the engine it has.

There are times when I have done absolutely nothing wrong, anticipated everything I could that could go wrong, and from out of no where, a less involved driver put us at risk. Having a car that accelerates well can be very helpful. Having a car that accelerates well is as important as one that stops well when you need to. Having a car that handles well too gives you more options; and more options is what you as a driver are always looking for.

I’ve always driven V8s or V6s. There maybe was a time but I really can’t think of one where I had or chose to accelerate to avoid an accident. Clearly there were times when braking or evasive action avoided such as well as anticipating problems that were developing a ways away. Brake lights a half mile ahead on an icy road for example. I’d go for a little larger vehicle rather than being concerned about the engine size though.