The downsizing of modern car engines

December 6, 2011 12:00 AM

Many automotive analysts have noted a shift in the options offered by automakers as of late, with one change in particular standing out - engines are getting smaller.

Unlike years past, when it seemed like engines had more and more cylinders each year, automakers nowadays are focused on providing fuel efficiency, which has led to smaller engines. At the same time, technology has advanced to the point that a turbocharged four-cylinder can offer just about as much horsepower as yesteryear's V6s - and today's six-cylinders have the fuel economy of previous four-bangers.

That was noticed by Kelley Blue Book in its recent picks for the "Freshman Car Class" of the 2012 model year, which featured nine vehicles with four-cylinder engines and one fully-electric car.

"The car world is indeed getting smaller, as evidenced by this year's freshman car class," said Jason Allan, editor of online content for Kelley Blue Book. "There's only one new car on the list not powered by a four-cylinder engine, and that car, Mitsubishi i, runs on electricity alone. Even the new Land Rover features a four-banger, albeit a turbocharged version still good for 240 horsepower."

While automakers have made great strides in areas like fuel economy and power, they unfortunately haven't developed a car that will fix itself yet. Drivers must still pay careful attention to their auto maintenance in order to avoid costly car repairs that can pop up if things aren't taken care of. 

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