Do you actually know the differences in what it means to have a 4-cylinder, or V-6 engine? Most people know that 4 cylinders in an engine provide weaker output to the crank-shaft, thus requiring more work to do the same amount than a V-6. Would you know which one is right for you? This is a fundamental concept that everyone should know in order to make an informed purchase at your car dealership.
The site HowStuffWorks.com provides an excellent article which I will quote from because there is no sense in rewriting what has been explained better than I can! Here is an excerpt:
4-Cylinder engines commonly come in “straight” or “inline” configurations while 6-cylinder engines are usually configured in the more compact “V” shape, and thus are referred to as V6 engines. V6 engines have been the engine of choice for American automakers because they’re powerful and quiet but still light and compact enough to fit into most car designs.
Historically, American auto consumers turned their noses up at 4-cylinder engines, believing them to be slow, weak, unbalanced and short on acceleration. However, when Japanese auto makers, such as Honda and Toyota, began installing highly-efficient 4-cylinder engines in their cars in the 1980s and 90s, Americans found a new appreciation for the compact engine. Even though Japanese models, such as the Toyota Camry, began quickly outselling comparable American models, U.S. automakers, believing that American drivers were more concerned with power and performance, continued to produce cars with V6 engines. Today, with rising gas prices and greater public environmental awareness, Detroit seems to be reevaluating the 4-cylinder engine for its fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
The turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 engine of a Nissan GT-R.
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As for the future of the V6, in recent years the disparity between 4-cylinder and V6 engines has lessened considerably. In order to keep up with the demand for high gas-mileage and lower emission levels, automakers have worked diligently to improve the overall performance of V6 engines. Many current V6 models come close to matching the gas-mileage and emissions standards of the smaller, 4-cylinder engines. So, with the performance and efficiency gaps between the two engines lessening, the decision to buy a 4-cylinder or V6 may just come down to cost. In models that are available with either type of engine, the 4-cylinder version can run up to $1000 cheaper than the V6. So, regardless of what kind of performance you’re looking to get out of your car, the 4-cylinder will always be the budget buy.”