Skip to main content

Most automakers use turbocharged 4-cylinder engines in their cars to get the most power and fuel efficiency. Gone are the days of stuffing a V8 under the hood for more power or relying on a six-cylinder engine to split the difference between horsepower and fuel economy. With today’s engineering, a turbocharged four-cylinder is more efficient than the larger engines and produces just as much power.

Other cars still use naturally aspirated engines that get the job done just as well – albeit a little slower. Check out these seven fun cars that emit plenty of power and sip fuel.

1. 2023 Kia Rio

A blue 2023 Kia Rio driving on a city street. The Rio is a 4-cylinder car and is one of two new cars under $20,000
2023 Kia Rio | Kia

The 2023 Kia Rio might not seem fun to drive, but if you couple its 120-hp engine with its lightweight architecture – it is. This zippy little hatchback is also very practical and fuel-efficient. It can seat up to five adults in relative comfort, has a decent-sized cargo area, and can get up to 36 mpg. Whether or not it’s fun, the Kia Rio is definitely efficient.

2. 2024 Mini Cooper S

A yellow Mini Cooper S drives down a road
Mini Cooper S | BMW USA

It’s hard to beat the 2024 Mini Cooper S when it comes to driving fun. The Cooper S is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that makes 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. That kind of power is punchy enough to put this little hatchback at 60 mph from a standstill in only 6.2 seconds. Forget the numbers; this plucky little hatchback is the closest you’ll get to driving a go-kart on the street.

3. 2023 Toyota GR86

2023 Toyota GR86 in orange
2023 Toyota GR86 | Toyota

We can’t gush enough about how great the 2023 Toyota GR86 is. Yes, it could use a turbocharger, but it doesn’t need it. Instead, the GR86 is motivated by a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter engine that generates 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The engine could be mated to a six-speed manual or automatic, but we recommend shifting the gears yourself. Doing so will net a 5.4-second 0-60-mph time and up to 27 mpg.

4. 2023 Honda Civic Si

2023 Honda Civic Sedan in silver parked in the mountains
2023 Honda Civic | Honda

The 2023 Honda Civic Si may not be as powerful as its Type R older brother, but it’s still a lot of fun to drive. We loved the Civic Si’s four-door practicality and seating for five but loved its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine even more.

The powerplant under the hood produces 200 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque, which is good enough to get the car to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver’s testing. It can get up to 37 mpg on the highway, which is even more impressive.

5. 2024 Acura Integra Type S

2024 Acura Integra Type S rear side profile
2024 Acura Integra Type S | Acura

The 2024 Acura Integra Type S is practically a carbon copy of the Honda Civic Type R. That said, it’s super powerful with its 320-hp turbocharged engine, but it’s also very practical. There’s plenty of seating for up to five adults and a surprising amount of trunk space. Best of all, the Integra Type S can get up to 60 mph in less than five seconds while averaging 28 mpg.

6. 2023 Kia K5 GT

2024 Kia K5 GT from the rear
2024 Kia K5 GT | Kia

The 2023 Kia K5 GT is an odd choice for this list, but it’s a good one nonetheless. The South Korean mid-size sedan offers a zesty drive thanks to a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that makes 290 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. With that kind of power, the K5 GT can zip up to 60 mph in only 5.2 seconds and achieve up to 32 mpg.

7. 2023 Genesis G80

A blue 2024 Genesis G80 parked in front of parking space. 2024 Genesis G80 trims are pretty underrated.
2024 Genesis G80 | Genesis

The 2023 Genesis G80 is almost as luxurious as its German competitors from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi, but that’s not its only strong suit. The G80 packs plenty of value and style and, thanks to its 4-cylinder engine, has plenty of power to boot. Under its hood is a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that pushes 300 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque. Although the G80 is a little heavy, it manages to click off 0-60 mph runs in only 5.7 seconds and can average 32 mpg. Take that, German rivals!

These fun 4-cylinder cars are powerful and fuel-efficient

Although not every four-cylinder car is aided by a turbocharger, not all of them need to be. This list shows that some of the most eclectic cars in the current market can be fun and efficient. Who needs a V6 or V8, anyway?