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8 Best 4-Cylinder Cars: Power, Efficiency, and Reliability

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Some of the best four-cylinder cars have undergone a remarkable transformation in the past decade. As car manufacturers strive to enhance fuel efficiency, they are now producing vehicles with three- and four-cylinder engines that deliver a robust driving experience. With numerous car-buying options available today, it can be a challenge to choose the perfect four-cylinder car. In this article, we will explore the advantages of a four-cylinder engine and highlight the top eight cars in this category.

What Are Some of the Advantages of a Four-Cylinder Engine?

One significant advantage of a four-cylinder engine is the balance it offers between fuel efficiency and power. Unlike larger powerplants such as V8 or V6 engines, four-cylinder cars can keep fuel costs down, even in upscale models. According to U.S. News, four-cylinder cars are suitable for various driving situations, whether you’re navigating city roads or cruising on the highway.

8 Best Cars with Four-Cylinder Engines

As Motor1 points out, the best four-cylinder cars are typically fuel-efficient. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the leading contenders:

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1. Toyota Prius

The 2014 Toyota Prius stole the show, with an EPA fuel efficiency rating of 50 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 46 mpg on the highway, resulting in a combined rating of 48 mpg. This remarkable achievement remains unmatched by most other cars. The 2014 Prius boasts additional features that make it hard to beat, including a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a gas-electric hybrid powertrain. In addition, the Prius ranked first in the Compact Car segment in the 2017 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, solidifying its reputation as one of the most reliable used cars.

2. Honda Accord

While all new Accords received glowing reviews, the 2016 Honda Accord stood out from the rest. The mid-size sedan was equipped with sophisticated tech features such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration for smartphones. Moreover, Honda introduced several key safety features for the 2016 model, including forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, road-departure mitigation, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. The standard Accord four-cylinder engine delivers 185 horsepower, 181 pound-feet of torque, and impressive EPA fuel efficiency ratings of up to 30 mpg combined for city and highway driving.

3. Chevrolet Malibu

The 2015 Chevy Malibu received top grades for predictive reliability from Consumer Reports. In addition to its reliability, the mid-size 2015 Malibu offers two types of four-cylinder engines: a standard 196-hp 2.5-liter engine and a turbo 2.0-liter engine with 259 hp. With torque ranging from 186 lb-ft to 259 lb-ft, the Malibu provides ample power options. Combined with an EPA fuel efficiency rating of 29 mpg for city and highway driving, the 2015 Malibu is undoubtedly one of the best used four-cylinder cars on the market.

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4. Subaru Impreza

Subaru has a reputation for producing excellent four-cylinder cars, and the 2015 Impreza is no exception. Available as a hatchback or compact sedan, the Impreza features a standard 148-hp 2.0-liter engine, offering up to 145 lb-ft of torque. The 2015 Impreza also introduced the EyeSight safety package, which includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane-departure warning. Consumer Reports awarded the 2015 Impreza with a superior predicted reliability score. With a combined EPA fuel efficiency rating of up to 31 mpg, the 2015 Impreza is an impressive four-cylinder option.

5. Hyundai Elantra

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra compact car is renowned for its value. Despite lacking some of the additional options found in its competitors, the 2014 Elantra received an outstanding predicted reliability score and earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS. The 2014 Elantra comes with a standard 1.8-liter engine, while the Elantra Sport features a 173-hp direct injection 2.0-liter engine with 154 lb-ft of torque. The car is also equipped with leather upholstery, heated seats in the front and rear, a rearview camera, and exterior LED lighting. With EPA fuel efficiency ratings of 27 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and a combined rating of 31 mpg, the 2014 Elantra is an attractive choice.

These are just a few of the best four-cylinder cars available. For those seeking power along with fuel efficiency and reliability, there are a couple more options to consider:

6. Subaru WRX STI 305-HP

The Subaru WRX STI made its debut in the United States market in 2004 with a mind-blowing 300-hp four-cylinder engine. Even in the same model year, a V8 Ford Mustang could only reach 260 hp. The 2018 WRX STI takes it a step further, with an additional 5 hp, making it one of the best used cars equipped with a powerful four-cylinder engine. For even more power, the limited edition STI Type RA features a full 310-hp engine.

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7. Honda Civic Type R

Honda presents the 2018 Civic Type R, featuring a 306-hp four-cylinder engine. With its front-wheel drive, the 2018 model stands out as one of the best and most powerful front-wheel-drive (FWD) cars on the market.

8. Ford Mustang EcoBoost

The 2018 Ford Mustang EcoBoost secures a place on the list of the best four-cylinder cars, offering power and efficiency. While retaining its 310-hp EcoBoost engine from the previous model, the 2018 Mustang received upgrades, increasing its torque to 350 lb-ft. This four-cylinder powerhouse outperforms even the 2005 Mustang GT. With its impressive performance and efficiency, the Mustang EcoBoost proves to be a legitimate contender among performance cars in 2020.

When it comes to the best four-cylinder cars, there are numerous options to consider. Whether you prioritize power, fuel efficiency, or reliability, these cars offer a combination of all these elements. For more information on the top four-cylinder cars, visit Ratingperson, your trusted source for car ratings and reviews.


  • Road & Track
  • Motor1
  • U.S. News
  • Autobytel
  • Car-Engineer

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