The midsize Hyundai Sonata will only be available in naturally aspirated, turbocharged, or hybrid four-cylinder configurations
Four-bangers surged strongly in 2009

In early January, DailyTech reported on slow death of the V6 engine in mainstream vehicles. With new CAFE regulations pushing for increased fuel economy -- to the tune of a fleetwide 35.5 mpg average -- many manufacturers are turning to direct injected four-cylinder engines and turbocharged four-cylinder engineer to increase fuel economy.

However, it's not just the government that is shoving higher fuel economy down the throats of auto manufacturers -- the buying public is also moving en masse towards four cylinder engines. According to Edmunds, 90 percent of midsize sedans sold in the United States (think Camry, Accord, Altima, Malibu, Fusion, etc.) come with a four-cylinder engine despite the fact that vastly more powerful V6 engines are available on the options sheet.

Wards Auto reports that a number of factors have resulted in V6 and V8 engines seeing a sharp decline for 2009. Wards cites that consumers have less money to spend these days, so more fuel efficient four-cylinder engines which get better fuel economy are being chosen. In addition, a sharp reduction in the production of light trucks has contributed to the downfall of engines with six or more cylinders.

In fact, Wards states that four-cylinder engines accounted for 61.9 percent of new car sales for 2009 -- this compares to just 51.7 percent in 2008. Whereas V8 engines were found in 88.9 percent of new cars sold way back in 1969, that figure is just under five percent today.

Other sectors that are showing gains are diesel engines (3.7 percent market share), turbocharged engines (2.9 percent market share), and hybrid powertrains (2.4 percent market share).

Companies like the new industry darling Hyundai are dropping V6 engines entirely from its midsize sedan offerings. The new 2011 Hyundai Sonata can currently only be had with a direct injected 2.4-liter four cylinder engine (paired with a 6-speed stick or 6-speed automatic) which produces 198 hp and get 35 mpg on the highway. Later this year, Hyundai will also introduce a turbocharged inline-four engine which will closely match the 35 mpg of its naturally aspirated counterpart while at the same time delivering power comparable to the 3.5-liter to 3.6 liter V6 engines offered in vehicles like the Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu.

Hyundai also plans to release a four-cylinder hybrid variant of the Sonata before the end of the year to complete the four-cylinder trifecta.

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