The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 April 2008

And the number of cylinders shall be four

Hybrids, schmybrids: cash-strapped consumers are flocking to conventional four-cylinder cars in this age of pricey fuelstuffs. And it's mainly because the hybrids still cost a lot:

Despite the increasing popularity of the Prius by Toyota Motor Corp., hybrids made up only 3% of the overall market for new cars last year. The sales gap between the relatively new technology and the smallest conventional engines is actually growing.

"For now, the easiest, cheapest way for new-car shoppers to get better mileage is to choose a model with a conventional four-cylinder engine. And they are," said J.D. Power and Associates' Jason Rothkop. He added in a conference call that it's getting more difficult for hybrids to command a premium of up to $5,000 when customers are counting every penny.

Another J. D. Power factoid:

The four-cylinder engine now holds 37% of the U.S. market, up from 30% just three years ago when gas last averaged less than $2 a gallon.

Well, you could have had a V-8, but:

[Standard & Poor's] said that over the past three years, vehicles equipped with eight-cylinder engines saw their market share drop to 18% from 28%. V-8 engines command an $8,000 premium per vehicle over the V-6 models, while the four-cylinder models offer a $4,000 discount, on average.

Whether S&P is including inline sixes with the V-6s, I couldn't tell you. And there are threes and fives and tens and twelves out there. (If you're considering the sixteen-cylinder Bugatti Veyron, you're probably not worried about the price tag.)

Me? I've owned six cars, three with four-bangers, three with sixes.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

Posted at 6:50 PM to Driver's Seat


I've owned six cars, three with four-bangers, three with sixes.

<quick mental tally>

I've owned seven vehicles: two fours, two sixes, and three V-8s.

Of the fours, one had to be towed away -- but the other was sold off for, frankly, more than I thought it was worth by that time.

Of the sixes, one was still running when I sold it to a you-pull-it yard -- but the other sold for, frankly, more than I thought it was worth at the time.

The first V-8 is, as far as I know, still being driven by ... somebody. The second had to be towed away. The third, my current ride, is still in great shape (knock on particle board) but is overdue for an oil change and has been making noises that suggests it needs some bearing work here and there.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:16 PM on 10 April 2008

I can see myself going back to a four some day. The progress they've made is remarkable: while the two Mazdas I owned, seven model years apart, had ostensibly the same four-cylinder engine, the newer mill was much less agitated at idle and delivered 10 percent more horsepower while drinking 5 percent less fuel.

Still, this Nissan V-6 is sweet.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:38 PM on 10 April 2008

I've had nine vehicles - three pickups with two inline sixes and one V8, one SUV with a V6, and five cars - two fours, the rest V8s. I've got six miles of gravel to get home, so I finally decided sports cars weren't quite what I needed. The narrower tracked vehicles don't work very well when the ruts are all full sized pickup wide. When it's wet and sloppy, that is a pretty strong argument for a full sized truck. The narrower vehicles don't want to follow one track. They continually slide across the road to fall in the other track, which has considerably improved my driving abilities at a quicker than wise pace.

So, while I'm all for smaller motors with better mileage, I'm really more interested in the power and torque to weight ratio. Full sized pickups with six cylinder motors just don't have it, and driving smaller trucks just gets old.

I just wish my Al Gore hating gas hog V8 pickup had 3.55s or 3.70s rather than the 4.10s it does have in the rear pumpkin.

Posted by: Jeffro at 10:14 PM on 10 April 2008

I've had eight cars. Five were V8s, One was an inline 6 and the other two 4s.

Posted by: ms7168 at 7:48 AM on 11 April 2008

I have owned 5 vehicles, 24 cylinders total.

That Mustang phase really drove up the average. But, ah, the growl of the engine and the slight hesitation in fourth gear that was like a Windows prompt: "Are you sure you want to go really fast? Yes / No" followed by the warplike acceleration when you kept the pedal down. I miss it sometimes.

Given that I now drive about forty miles a week, I think I could afford anything with gas prices what they are.

Posted by: Brian J. at 9:08 AM on 11 April 2008

I've owned 15, most had one foot (or wheel) in the grave when I got 'em. Seven were V8s, ranging from a 330 Olds, to a 323 Chevy to multiple flavors (Chevy and Olds) of 350s and one 351 Ford. I have a 350 Olds now. I've had three V6s, all in small trucks, and two straight 6s. I've had a square 4 (old VW ragtop), and two transverse mounted straight 4s. The pickup and two cars (4 and V8) were stickshift. The Beetle had a stick-actuated clutch that was manually shifted, a rather strange setup IMO, but it worked.

I also had three motorcycles (a single--70cc, and two inline 4s--400cc and 1100cc).

A couple of those V8 cars had more than one engine in 'em, too. I tended to run 'em pretty hard when I was younger. :)

Posted by: unimpressed at 4:13 PM on 11 April 2008