How Much Do You Know About 4-Cylinder Engines?


By: Steven Symes

6 Min Quiz

Image: youtube

About This Quiz

Despite being some of the earliest engines used in cars, four-cylinders were frowned upon as the United States economy rose to new levels. People wanted more power than was possible to create with these smaller engines, fueling the popularity of V-6s and V-18s. Thanks to several shifts in the market, driven by consumers and government regulations, the four-cylinder is rising in popularity again.

Today, four-cylinder engines are more complicated than ever. They can come in different configurations, although most follow a similar layout. Innovative designs, including forced induction, variable valve timing, and direct injection have helped boost output to levels associated with V-6s and even some V-8s of old. Thanks to modern technology, you'll even find some three-row SUVs using a four-cylinder engine and not struggling to propel all that weight up a steep hill.

While the design of most four-cylinder engines isn't horribly complicated, which makes them desirable for financial savings, there's still plenty to know about these influential engines. This quiz will test your knowledge in a number of areas. See just how much you know about these engines and take the test now!

In a four-cylinder Boxer, which way are the cylinders oriented?

While not a highly conventional design, the Boxer engine is used in some four-cylinder cars. Its name comes from the fact the pistons look like a boxer's gloves as they move in and out.


When was the four-cylinder engine first used in a car?

Despite what many people think, the first car with a four-cylinder engine was American, the Buffum Four-Cylinder Stanhope. It looked more like a horseless carriage than a car, but marked an important step forward in automotive technology.


Which of the following is a common nickname for four-cylinder engines?

Most people agree that this slang term for four-cylinder engines started with the hot rod movement. There's disagreement about why it was first used, but the term has stuck around for a long time.


What is the most common type of vehicle V-4 engines are used in?

There are a few cars with a V-4 engine, like certain Lancias, Fords, and AMCs. For the most part, this engine has been popular for higher-powered motorcycles, although cooling the rear cylinder bank can be a little problematic.


What is the most common firing order for an inline four-cylinder engine?

The vast majority of inline or straight four-cylinder engines use this firing order because it has been credited with an overall smooth operation that produces few vibrations and more e​ven power delivery.


What notable claim did Honda make about the S2000's engine?

When the S2000 launched in 1999, Honda used the little roadster to flex its technological muscles. The 2.0-liter DOHC-VTEC engine boasted a healthy 247 horsepower and 161 lb.-ft. of torque, which the automaker claimed was more power per liter than any other naturally-aspirated engine on the market at the time.


What was the first Chevy Camaro with a four-cylinder engine?

GM caused waves when it introduced a Camaro powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged motor. What's more, it was the same engine used in the Equinox, but has been well-received by many as being potent enough for the car.


What vehicle was powered by a four-cylinder engine famously nicknamed the Go Devil?

Most of the Jeeps used in World War II were powered by this famous engine, which was then used in a whole range of civilian Jeeps after the war was over. Willys-Overland produced this engine, which was equipped with a 1-barrel carb and was water-cooled.


What car was the first to use a four-cylinder VTEC engine?

After years of experimentation, Honda was ready to put variable valve timing technology, VTEC, in a production engine. The result was considerable surprise from the public and industry reviewers, because a compact and efficient car had a performance edge to it.


What generation of the Lotus Elise was the first to use a Toyota- sourced four-cylinder?

Thanks to issues Lotus has never clarified with the Rover K-Series engine, Lotus started using the Toyota 1ZZ-FE, a 1.8-liter engine. Other Toyota four-cylinder engines were used later, making for a successful partnership between the two companies.


Where is the four-cylinder engine located on the Alfa Romeo 4C?

With a mid-engine setup and carbon fiber monocoque, the Alfa Romeo 4C boasts a nearly perfect balance of weight between the front and rear portions of the car. That means excellent handling, making the 4C a true sports car.


Why are inline four-cylinders the most common configuration?

The inline four-cylinder engine has become incredibly common. They're relatively inexpensive to make, easy to install, and less costly to work on, making for a great option when people want an economical vehicle.


Why do some four-cylinder engines contain a balance shaft?

Four-cylinder engines aren't always the smoothest-running engine out there. To keep the car comfortable for drivers and passengers, automakers will use a balance shaft, which is a weighted shaft that counteracts vibrations.


What is one of the big reasons four-cylinder engines, for the most part,​ don't provide as smooth of an acceleration as V-6s?

Thanks to the inherent design of inline four-cylinder engines, they can never have overlapping piston power strokes. Those gaps make the engine feel rougher and less refined, which is a big challenge in using four-cylinders for performance vehicles.


What was the first four-cylinder Ford Mustang?

With the oil crisis in full swing, Ford decided to tweak the engine lineup for the Mustang II. That included using the same 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine that was in the Pinto, a move that angered many enthusiasts at the time.


What is the firing order for most flat-four engines?

Boxer engines not only have a different configuration, the firing order is also different from inline setups. In some ways, it reduces vibrations, but in other ways, it doesn't. One thing is for sure, this firing order results in a truly distinct sound.


What was unique about the camshafts in the Mitsubishi Evolution's four-cylinder engine?

Mitsubishi really went crazy on lightweighting for the Evolution, dropping weight wherever its engineers could think of practical ways. One was to use hollow camshafts. Another was to make the exhaust as straight and short as possible.


What kind of forced induction does Volvo use on the T6 four-cylinder for the XC90?

Normally, you wouldn't think a little 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine could get a big, heavy SUV like the XC90 moving in a hurry. Thanks to this unique setup, the supercharger provides great low-end power, while the turbo covers the top end of the spectrum.


The EcoBoost four-cylinder used in the Ford Focus RS can also be had in what other vehicle?

The 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine uses turbocharging, direct injection, and variable valve timing for a performance trifecta. The result is a peak 350 horsepower, which helps the car really move in a hurry.


What two brands currently use four-cylinder Boxer engines?

While technically Toyota does sell the 86 coupe with a Boxer engine, that engine was developed by Subaru. Other automakers in the past produced Boxer engines, but for reasons such as increased complexity and production costs, they've all stopped.


What has been the largest production four-cylinder engine ever made?

Launched in 1993, this inline four-cylinder engine has a massive displacement of 8.5 liters. It's a smaller, four-cylinder version of the Series 60, using the same block, and is often found powering heavy trucks.


What is the firing order of a typical V-4 engine?

With few exceptions, V-4s use the same firing order as an inline four-cylinder, since it provides optimal balance for the design. Still, a V-4 doesn't have the same level of smoothness or balance you find in a V-6.


For the 2018 model year, what vehicle uses the most powerful four-cylinder engine on the market?

Mercedes and AMG found a way to extract 375 horsepower from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, something that ten years ago would have seemed completely insane. The move has kept it ahead of competing vehicles.


What was the big claim to fame for the 1997 Acura Integra Type R's four-cylinder engine?

When the Acura Integra Type R launched in 1997, the car made waves in the auto industry. With 108 horsepower per liter, it set a record for the most power per liter for an engine. That helped smash perceptions that Honda's smaller cars were just grocery getters.


What engine did Nissan use in the 2007 to 2012 Sentra SE-R Spec V?

Nestled under the hood of this performance compact sedan was a turbocharged 2.5-liter QR25DE four-cylinder. It was tuned for an impressive peak 200 horsepower, making the car entertaining for the driver.


How large of an engine did the second-generation Toyota MR2 use?

The second generation of the MR2 was longer and heavier than the first, so it needed a more powerful engine. The 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder was positioned behind the driver and passenger for ideal balance, boasting a peak 156 horsepower and 137 lb.-ft. of torque.


How does a diesel four-cylinder engine combust fuel?

Instead of relying on a spark, diesel engines combust the fuel and air mixture by exerting extreme compression on it. This design has made diesels highly efficient, although modern gasoline designs are catching up.


What did Mazda call its new four-cylinder gasoline engines launched in 2010?

The Skyactiv-G pushed Mazda's engineering further, combining a higher compression ratio, direct injection, heat-loss reduction, and premium fuel for improved efficiency that didn't sacrifice driving fun.


How often do you need to change the oil in a typical four-cylinder engine?

There is no one solution for all engines, since their designs vary so much. Automakers provide recommendations in the owner's manual, or you can call a local dealer to get that info, so you don't push the oil changes out too long.


Why have four-cylinder engines become so popular?

You might have noticed that a steadily increasing number of cars, trucks, and SUVs use four-cylinder engines. Much of the shift has been driven by tightening fuel economy and emissions standards from governments, plus consumers wanting to save money.


What provides the initial power to start a four-cylinder engine?

At very first, the spark plugs are powered by the car's battery. Once the engine is running, the alternator steps in, providing the juice the ignition system needs to keep things going, while also recharging the battery for the next startup.


What Volkswagen four-cylinder engine was at the center of the Dieselgate scandal?

The 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine was the pride and joy of Volkswagen, which proudly declared how cleanly the diesel ran, without sacrificing performance. Some cars using the EA 189 have returned to the road, after undergoing government-approved modifications to bring emissions levels into the legal limits.


Setting a trend many automakers follow today, what size turbocharged engine did the 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS use?

Mitsubishi was well ahead of the curve when it created the Eclipse. Even the first generation of the car could be hard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which could send power to all four corners with all-wheel drive, a formula many automakers use today.


What technology is at the center of Fiat Chrysler's Multiair four-cylinder engines?

The variable valve timing tech in the Multiair is hydraulically actuated, which Fiat Chrysler says provides improved control of intake air. This innovation can boost horsepower by up to 10 percent and torque by up to 15 percent.


Where did Mini get the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine used in its 2018 John Cooper Works models?

This really shouldn't be a huge surprise, considering BMW owns Mini and the two automakers work together, sharing technologies and parts. Peak output from this engine is impressive at 228 horsepower.


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