For as long as we care to remember, U.S. roads have hummed to the tune of the V-6 and V-8. Low-stressed and powerful, we’ve used V-engines in everything from pickup trucks and hotrods to family sedans and crossover SUVS. 

Times, however, are changing. 

According to JD Power Associates (via Associated Press) more than half of the new cars and trucks sold between January and May this year were powered by 4-cylinder engines. 

That’s the highest market share the consulting firm has seen for the humble 4-cylinder engine since it started to track engine sales percentage in 1998. 

With the drive toward ever-tougher emissions and gas mileage requirements, it isn’t difficult to see why automakers are replacing V-8 and V-6 engines with smaller, more efficient 4-cylinder ones. 

In order for cars fitted with smaller engines to sell however, they have to offer good performance alongside gas mileage. 

“You can take away my V-8, but don’t take away my acceleration,” IHS Automotive analyst Rebecca Lindland joked. “We’re willing to embrace a technology that doesn’t make us compromise performance.”

Ford V-6 Vs EcoBoost

Ford V-6 Vs EcoBoost

Luckily, thanks to technology like turbochargers, computer-controlled direct-injection, and lightweight engine components, new 4-cylinder engines are able to give V-6 performance while retaining good gas mileage. 

More importantly, modern turbocharged 4-cylinder engines are now achieving gas mileages that rival some hybrid cars -- but at a much lower sticker price. 

In fact, modern 4-cylinder engines like the 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter EcoBoost engines offered in the 2013 Ford Escape crossover SUV are so powerful and efficient that Ford isn’t even offering a V-6 or hybrid option to customers any more. 

We’re pleased to see the 4-cylinder engine is finally the preferred choice for U.S. drivers as they pursue increased gas mileage, but will it continue to grow in popularity in the coming years? 

Or perhaps there’s another engine that you think will be even more popular? 

Let us know in the Comments below.


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