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While I am not in the market for a new car, I do like to look at what it out there on occasion and it led me to a interesting question. The question is who do so many cars only have four cylinder engines and do they feel as powerful to drive as a V6 or V8? It seems to me that the bigger engines might still do a better job of turning the driver on and keeping the driver excitied about driving over the course of ten to twenty years of the car’s life.

4 cyl or v8? What makes u happy? U can’t get a v8 in a Camry. 99% of answer is, what type of rig do u want? A truck? A camaro? A civic? There is ur answer. Though, u can get a turbo 4 in the new camaro. Ugh, remember the 82 camaro with the 2.5 iron duke? Painful memory. Buddy bought a new 82 berlinetta with the carbed 2.8. What a turd. Car sucked too.

With the addition of turbocharging in many car models, it is possible for a modern 4-cylinder engine to have “oomph” similar to a larger six or eight cylinder engine.

For me, the major considerations would be both the longevity and the necessary maintenance of those turbocharged engines. If you take a look at the maintenance schedules, you will likely find that many of them require an oil change much sooner than non-turbo-charged engines (For example, Subaru specifies a 3,750 mile interval, instead of their usual 7,500 mile interval), and many require more costly oil. And, even with more frequent oil changes and pricey oil, I have personal doubts about turbocharged engines lasting as long as normally-aspirated engines.

I don’t want a turbocharged engine, as I tend to keep my cars for ~10 years, so durability is a major consideration for me. I am much happier with a larger non-turbo engine, but I fear that in not too many more years, I may not have that choice.

You really can’t judge a car’s “feel” by how many cylinders the engine has. The question is far too complex. The highways are filled with Peterbuilts hauling 60,000 pounds with six cylinder engines, and the Lotus Elise of a few years ago would run circles around most cars with a four cylinder engine (they use a V6 now).

I agree with VDC’s comments about turbocharging, but I think they’ve become much more durable in recent years as they get produced en-masse for average daily drivers. They still, however, have a weak spot in the bearing assembly seals between the driven impeller and the induction impeller. These bearings are subjected to rotational speeds of 200,000 rpm and up while being exposed to the heat of the exhaust, AND they have high pressure on the exhaust side with low pressure on the intake side (a high pressure differential). That adds up to a severe environment and an opportunity for oil to get drawn past the bearings when the seals grow old.

Bigger engines use more fuel, and the auto manufacturers have ever higher CAFE levels to meet. That can’t be done with big engines. Turbocharged or supercharged 4-cylinder engines are more efficient than 6-cyl or 8-cyl engines without, and frequently can equal or exceed the power of these larger engines.

@Hollywood1974 Excitement has nothing to do with the number of cylinders. Power-to-weight ratio has something to do with it as does handling.

My wife’s Mazda3 Sport with a 4 cylinder engine is much more fun in daily driving that a vintage Pontiac GTO with numb steering and poor brakes. Those cars had straight line acceleration and not much else.

Today’s 4 cylinder engines are smooth and really rev up to give you lots of acceleration and passing power.

Most drivers would be hard pressed to guess whether a car had 4, 6 or 8 cylinder engine just by sitting behind the wheel. Most “fun to drive” cars today have 4 cylinder engines; VW GTI, Mini Cooper, Mazda Speed, Subaru WRX, Hyundai Tiburon, etc.

The main reason for this is the output of engines per liter is now so high that you don’t need a lot of cylinders to get adequate power.

I totally agree with VDC’s comments about turbocharging. My previous car I bought with a V6 to avoid the turbo 4. My present car has an opposed 4. Both have plenty of power.

Hollywood1974, If I am correct you have a 1997 Thunderbird with lots of miles. Not what I would call an exciting car.
Do you not know anyone with an up to date car?
Our 2010 Volvo V70 with a 6 cylinder inline engine will run and handle much better than most vehicles of the 80’s that had V8 engines.

So, my new car with turbo and cvt will need a new timing belt at 6yr/80k miles, and a new turbo at 100k, and a new cvt trans at 110k?

The manufacturers are shifting from timing belts to timing chains, which last much longer, usually the life of the car.

We are all keeping our fingers crossed on the CVTs, but the hope is 200k.

@BillRussell I’m sure a number of traveling salesmen will get 200,000 plus miles out of their CVTs. I’m leery of stop and go commuting. I’d like a taxi or delivery service to use these units to get an idea as to durability.

I remember the V12 engines that were installed in the Lincolns through 1948. I think that the original displacement was 292 cubic inches. The performance wasn’t all that great, so the engine was bored to something over 300 cubic inches. Unfortunately, the block was too thin for the larger bore and the engines had real problems. The solution for many owners was to swap in a Ford truck V-8. A modified version of the Ford truck V-8 was used in the 1949-51 Lincolns. In 1952, Lincoln brought out an OHV V 8 to replace the flathead. Ford abandoned engines with more than 8 cylinders after 1948. Now, we are again reducing the number of cylinders from 8 to 6 or 4.
The discussion about the CVT transmission as opposed to the mulri-speed automatic transmissions reminds me of the original Buick Dynaflow and Chevrolet PowerGlide vs the 4 speed GM Hydramatic back in the early,1950s. The Dynaflow and PowerGlide depended completely on a torque converter while the Hydramatic had a fluid coupling instead of a torque converter that did not multiply the torque, but had 4 speeds instead.
The issues between the number of cylinders and the type of automatic transmission is still going on–it’s just that the engines and transmissions have changed .

Docnick: Boston cabs are mostly hybrids, due to a city requirement. Mainly Toyota Camry Hybrids. They may have CVTs.

I believe when I was in San Francisco the last time, the vast majority of the cabs were Hybrids . . . mostly Camry, Fusion and Prius

When we were in Washington, D.C. a couple of years ago, many of the taxicabs were hybrids. I’ve also seen a lot of minivans used for taxicab service. Chrysler is ready to market a Pacifica hybrid mini van. Maybe Chrysler is vying for this market.

I wonder if the battery pack will be under the rear bench, as it was in the GM 42V parallel hybrid trucks from a few years ao

Or maybe it will be under the van

As far as I see it, having a huge battery pack eating up space inside a minivan kind of defeats the purpose of having a minivan, at least to some degree

And let’s not forget a minivan is a lot bigger than a Prius, so I expect the battery pack to be correspondingly larger

I'm sure a number of traveling salesmen will get 200,000 plus miles out of their CVTs. I'm leery of stop and go commuting.

Ditto for the new 6 to 9 speed automatics.

I have to say that one of the reasons I wanted to act now was to get a V6 again before they were eliminated. The 4 cyl Renegade we rented was really pretty dead. I don’t know if it was turbo or not but it would be a great little vehicle with a V6 and a stiffer body to be able to pull something.
One guess why everyone is downsizing again in anticipation of higher MPG requirements.

I should say that I am not in the market for a new car, but sometimes I look at advertisements, so if the time ever comes, I have some idea of what I might like. While my thunderbird is not a fancy luxury car or a sports car, I still enjoy driving it. I guess I am wondering if people get the same enjoyment out of new cars that they used to get out of cars? In my thoughts if I am paying more for a car someday than my parents paid for the house they live in, I think I would want a car that I always look forward to starting and driving

@Hollywood1974 Cars by and large have become appliances. Safety and fuel economy standards have dictated that from a distance most cars look alike. Also today’s kids are more infatuated with electronics and gadgets to impress their girlfriends than with a stylish car.

Cars used to have personalities because of their styling, but that’s long gone. A Cadillac Escalade is now transporting VIPs, Governors, Mobsters, Columbian drug lords, as well as the Kardashian family. In Chevy Suburban form it’s transport for ranchers and oil field workers, its original market.

It’s hard to make an SUV beautiful, and stylish cars usually make too many sacrifices in trunk and passenger space, so styling as a key input to car design has lost its prestige.

Right now I can’t name a single car I could call beautiful, except maybe the Mazda MX-5 Roadster.