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Some of the best four-cylinder cars have evolved within the past decade. In the recent bid to boost fuel efficiency, car manufacturers are producing vehicles with three- and four-cylinder engines that only 10 years ago were powered by either a six- or eight-cylinder powerplant.
Some of the best four-cylinder cars have evolved within the past decade. In the recent bid to boost fuel efficiency, car manufacturers are producing vehicles with three- and four-cylinder engines that only 10 years ago were powered by either a six- or eight-cylinder powerplant. Today, auto engineers are fine-tuning the smaller engines so that they’re able to deliver a robust driving experience. With many car-buying options out there, it can be tough to determine what four-cylinder, or inline-four, car is the perfect purchase.
What Are Some of the Advantages of a Four-Cylinder Engine?
One advantage of a four-cylinder engine is that it offers a balance between fuel efficiency and power. The best four-cylinder cars will also keep fuel costs down, as compared to larger powerplants like v8 or v6 engines, even in the case of upscale models. In fact, U.S. News states that four-cylinder cars are suitable for every driving situation, from city and neighborhood roads to open highways.
8 Best Cars with Four-Cylinder Engines
As Motor1 states, the best four-cylinder cars are typically fuel-efficient. When it comes to the best, though, these cars take the lead:
1. Toyota Prius
AutoWeb says 2014 was the year for the Toyota Prius. The 2014 Prius has an EPA fuel efficiency rating of 50 miles per gallon in the city and 46 mpg on the highway for a combined fuel efficiency rating of 48 mpg. This is hard for most other cars to beat. These additional features also make the 2014 Prius hard to beat:
- A 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine
- Gas-electric hybrid powertrain
The 2014 Toyota Prius also led the Compact Car segment in the 2017 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study. The Prius also made the list of most reliable used cars for 2015 models.
2. Honda Accord
Even though the new Accords received tons of positive reviews from car owners, the 2016 Accord just had something about it. The 2016 model updated its mid-size sedan to include some pretty sophisticated tech for connectivity like the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration for smartphones. Manufacturers also introduced several other key features for the 2016 model:
- Honda Sensing safety package with forward-collision warning
- Automatic emergency braking
- Road-departure mitigation
- Lane-keeping assistance
- Adaptive cruise control
The standard Accord four-cylinder engine is adequate with 185 horsepower, 181 pound-feet of torque, and EPA fuel efficiency ratings up to 30 mpg combined for city and highway driving.
3. Chevrolet Malibu
The 2015 Chevy Malibu took top grades from Consumer Reports for predictive reliability. That’s not all the mid-size 2015 Malibu offers, though. Here are several other perks the car offers:
- Two types of four-cylinder engines
- Comes in the standard 196-hp 2.5-liter
- The 2015 Malibu also offers the 259-hp turbo 2.0-liter
- Between 186 lb-ft and 259 lb-ft of torque between both engine sizes
The 2015 Malibu definitely has a lot to offer. With the power of its four-cylinder options and an EPA fuel efficiency rating of a combined 29 mpg for city and highway driving, this used four-cylinder car is one of the best.
4. Subaru Impreza
Many excellent used four-cylinder Subaru models exist, including the 2015 Impreza hatchback or compact sedan. Subaru typically uses a boxer-style powerplant, which is an engine configuration similar to a V-4 engine with the cylinders flat so the pistons seem to ‘punch’ away under the hood. This results in improved handling due to the lower center of gravity.
The engine doesn’t stop there. Here are several more elements the 2015 Impreza features:
- Standard 148-hp 2.0-liter engine
- Up to 145 lb-ft of torque
- The 2015 Impreza introduced the EyeSight safety package
- Adaptive cruise control
- Pre-collision braking
- Lane-departure warning
Additionally, Consumer Reports awarded the 2015 Impreza with a superior predicted reliability score. With up to a combined EPA fuel efficiency rating of 31 mpg, the 2015 Imprezas are impressive four-cylinder options.
5. Hyundai Elantra
The 2014 Hyundai Elantra compact is a four-cylinder car known for its value. Even though the 2014 Elantra didn’t come with many of the additional options as its counterparts, its outstanding predicted reliability score gave it a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS in 2014. The 2014 Elantra has two engine options and several more features including:
- Standard 1.8-liter engine
- Elantra Sport features a 173-hp direct injection 2.0-liter engine with 154 lb-ft of torque
- Leather upholstery
- Heated seats in front and rear
- Rearview camera
- Exterior LED lighting
The 2014 Elantra’s standard engine also boasts EPA fuel efficiency ratings of 27 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and a combined rating of 31 mpg.
Some of the best used four-cylinder cars also offer the most power for their size. If you’re looking for power from your four-cylinder, you might take a closer look at the following cars:
6. Subaru WRX STI 305-HP
The Subaru WRX STI first appeared on the United States market in 2004 with its mind-blowing 300-hp four-cylinder engine. Even a V-8 Ford Mustang of the same model year could only reach 260-hp. But with the 2018 WRX STI is an additional 5 hp, making the 2018 STI one of the best used cars with a powerful four-cylinder engine. Additionally, the limited edition STI Type RA features a full 310-hp engine.
7. Honda Civic Type R
Honda joins Subaru with its 2018 Civic Type R. The car features a 306-hp four-cylinder cylinder engine. The 2018 model chose to keep its front-wheel drive, making it one of the best and most powerful front-wheel-drive (FWD) cars.
8. Ford Mustang EcoBoost
The 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost makes the list of one of the best four-cylinder cars as well as one of the most powerful. The 2018 Mustang kept its EcoBoost 310-hp engine, but the upgrades to the 2018 model increased to 350 lb-ft of torque. The sheer power of this four-cylinder is enough to beat even the 2005 Mustang GT. The efficiency of the Mustang’s EcoBoost makes it a legitimate performance car for 2020.
The best four-cylinder cars are many, but few compare to some of the most powerful engines out there. So if you’re looking for power, fuel efficiency, and reliability, these cars feature all the elements.