The differences between a 4-cylinder engine and a V6 are the number of pistons, configuration and horsepower. In 4-cylinder engines, four pistons move inside four chambers; a V6 engine uses six pistons that generate nearly 50 percent more power. V6 engines are more responsive, whereas 4-cylinder engines hesitate when drivers accelerate. Four-cylinder engines are commonly used in smaller cars, whereas V6 engines are used in luxury and premium model vehicles.
The number of cylinders inside the engine has a direct effect on the overall performance of the vehicle and the engine. In a 4-cylinder and V6 engine, every cylinder has a piston that rises and falls. The pistons pump inside the engine and are connected to and rotate the crankshaft. V6 engines have more pistons than 4-cylinder engines, and as a result more pumping creates more combustive events inside the engine. In V6 engines, this creates more power in a smaller amount of time, compared with 4-cylinder engines.
V6 engines are common on premium passenger vehicles and mid-size sports-utility vehicles. Many vehicle models require an upgrade to include the more powerful V6 engine design. When even more power is required, as with a large truck or premium sports car, a V8 engine is frequently used.