Pros: Robust power and torque; useful towing capacity on properly equipped vehicles

Cons: Questionable fuel economy (except turbodiesels); refinement can be an issue

Summary: A V6 engine is typically faster and better at towing and hauling than a 4-cylinder engine yet not as thirsty or expensive as a V8. It's a workhorse engine that does most things well. Midsize sedans frequently offer a V6 upgrade, while many luxury sedans and crossover SUVs feature standard V6 power.

If the vehicle you're considering comes standard with a 4-cylinder engine, springing for a V6 means you care about performance. You're not just about fuel economy and frugality; you want your vehicle to be able to get out of its own way, too. The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry feature two of the best optional V6s, with the Honda managing nearly 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

Conversely, the V6 can be an economical choice in the luxury segment, keeping costs down and fuel economy up while still providing satisfying thrust. This is especially true of turbodiesel V6s, which provide superior fuel economy and torque, making them increasingly popular in luxury crossovers such as the Volkswagen Touareg. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee joins the crowd with a turbodiesel V6 of its own.

Worth noting, turbocharged 4-cylinder engines are replacing V6s in some segments. "Turbo fours" can deliver V6-like grunt with better mpg, though they don't always deliver. We recommend sampling both engine types and drawing your own conclusions.

What it means to you: Boasting strong performance and ever-improving fuel economy, the V6 engine is an appealing jack-of-all-trades.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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