By on February 23, 2017

Accord-Camry-Passat-Altima V6 sedans - Images: Nissan/Honda/Toyota/VW

Horsepower doesn’t necessarily cure all that ails you. Potent powertrains aren’t invariably linked to progress. The greater pony count is not unfailingly found under the hood of the greater car.

All too often, auto enthusiasts fall into the trap of believing that a deeply flawed car can be made better if they’d only put a proper engine under the hood. In reality, huge power increases often do more to highlight, rather than mask, a car’s flaws.

The overwhelming majority of 2017’s crop of midsize sedans are not deeply flawed cars, of course. But it’s generally accepted, at least by people like you and me, that they can all be made better by upgrading the basic four-cylinder powerplant with an optional V6. By spending a fair chunk of extra change. By tolerating a sharp increase in fuel consumption. By challenging two front wheels to sometimes fulfill two starkly different missions.

With the Chrysler 200’s death, America’s midsize sedan category now features four cars with front-wheel drive and V6 powerplants. I’m driving one this week: the 2017 Volkswagen Passat 3.6. The other three — Camry, Accord, Altima — are America’s three best-selling midsize cars.

Average horsepower: 274. Average torque: 252 lb-ft. Average curb weight: 3,500 pounds.

Once up to speed, the knack these four cars have for obliterating slow-moving traffic on a two-lane highway is astonishing. And it’s not as though they’re constantly searching for traction or torque steering madly off in all directions, not with a driver who’s aware of the way his or her right foot must mete out throttle pressure.

But is it possible to deny, from a purely objective standpoint, that these cars are hugely overpowered?

There is no middle ground. Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen skipped right past “tasteful enhancement” on their way to “exaggerated augmentation.”

Compared with their four-cylinder siblings, the Accord, Altima, Camry, and Passat produce 50 percent, 51 percent, 51 percent, and 65 percent more horsepower, respectively, in their V6 editions. It’s not so much an upgrade from economy to business class as it is a leap from Piper Cherokee to Learjet 70.

You’re constantly aware that the V6 engine generates a lot of power that you can’t tap into.

Maybe that’s no different from the owner of a 460-horsepower Corvette who knows that mere seconds of throttle application could land him in jail and his car in the impound lot. Maybe it’s not like that at all, since these are not Corvettes.

The Passat, Camry, Accord, and Altima V6s may be the ultimate Q-cars. Sleepers par excellence.

Or they may be cars that took the old idea of 200 sufficient horsepower and just kept on climbing for the fun of it.

Would a torquey turbo-four be more appetizing? Would all-wheel drive make it right? Are base engines the unexpected pièce de résistance?

Or is the fact that these anonymous sedans are chock full of gratuitous energy the very virtue that makes them great?

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152 Comments on “QOTD: Are V6-Engined Midsize Sedans Way Over The Top?...”


  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    On the other hand, the lack of turbo lag at low speeds and the shaking of a 4 up front could be worth buying the 6. Gas mileage does not always go down, especially in real life driving. I have a DI Turbo 4, and two 3L sixes and the sixes are far more comfortable drivers with the same mileage. You can go over the top, and I would note some of your examples do just that.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Yes!!! I have been in late-model Audi A4s with more idle shake than I would accept in a Hyundai Accent. Of course, well-executed stop-start would fix that…but the only way to execute it well is to do a hybrid drivetrain…which BTW fixes the problem of a four-cylinder’s poor off-idle torque.

      TL:DR …used to drive a V6, now I drive a hybrid. :-)

  • avatar
    WhatsMyNextCar

    I’m okay with them, and welcome more. Sure, they’re overpowered. They’re not terrible with fuel (maybe the Passat is, with its premium fuel requirements) and they are usually the loaded models. “Cheap” luxury.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Like having a big schlong in prison. Do you really want to use it?

    Silly HP people.

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    I came in here to say No, but you’ve actually got me thinking now. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d wager that a lot of those buying these vehicles don’t unleash their full potential too often anyways, so something with 240hp or even less probably wouldn’t be a deal breaker. ~270hp, for me, a 25 year old, would be fun in a midsize sedan but, in all practicality, what about bringing back some 3.0L V6s or stuff a turbo four (more torque) to get the same job done with better fuel economy?

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      The VQ30 engine had 190HP, and that was plenty in a FWD midsize. A modern engine of similar proportion would produce quite a bit more horsepower, and good fuel economy with #-speed whatever automatic.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        My recently departed Maxima had the VQ30, and I’m onto an older ES300 with a 3.0L 1MZ now, both with 4spd autos. These are definitely not the 250+ hp modern V6 mills, and frankly my wife’s 2.5L Camry could probably outgun the Lexus if not the Nissan (while getting vastly better fuel economy). But the well of midrange torque and the smoothness with which both older V6s moved out from a light are very different feeling than her I4. Easy to argue that’s hardly worth the 20-24 mpg in mixed all season driving vs the 30-32 her Camry gets.

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        It’s funny, the first engines that came to mind when writing my first post were the VQ30 and whatever 3.2L engine they stuffed under the nose of my buddy’s Dodge Intrepid. Both of those had plenty of power and were pretty damn smooth.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Because, often the turbo-fours don’t get great fuel economy unless you stay out of the boost, in which case it drives much like a regular four-cylinder. Ford’s entire EcoBoost range is known for having fuel-economy numbers only achievable on a light-footed EPA test cycle, while real-world fuel economy numbers are less than impressive. And for all that, you get more complexity.

      There’s something to be said for Toyota’s old-school port-injected 3.5-liter V6 in the outgoing Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Or any V6, for that matter!

        See my jeremiad down-thread — my 35mpg on an 80+mph blast with three pax aboard plus luggage could probably be easily 38+, if not the big 4-0, with DI and the 10-speed automatic added to the VCM variable-displacement found on the current Accord V6. (I’ve seen 43 indicated on a 70mph trip with no A/C use, and 2 souls aboard, so it’s possible!)

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Right, low end turbo-4 torque would be a better fit.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    No, not any more than an expensive sedan with a modern six-cylinder engine.

    An Accord or Camry with the V6 is close to what Jack’s mythical LS-powered Malibu would feel like. They have tremendous freeway-merge power and decent fuel economy. Both would really show off the engines well with a manual but the 6-speed automatics are good enough at locking up.

    Bear in mind that “go to jail, go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200” speeds are more practical than the B&B thinks. There are very few patrol cars on modern freeways, and even fewer on the backroads.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Don’t know where you live, but where I am traffic substitutes for police in enforcing speed limits.

      • 0 avatar
        chaparral

        Detroit, but before that Texas and central New England.

        Go to work at 8:30 and leave at 5:30, and there’ll be tons of traffic. Shift a couple of hours either way and there isn’t

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Northwest Ohio is exhibit “A!” Half the population is apparently judge, jury and executioner, as they trundle down the left lane of every freeway, and would take a Sidewinder up the tailpipe before they would budge one iota from the underposted numbers on the damn sign! The other half simply refuse to believe that forty-five mph is a clear and present danger to they, the poor souls stuck behind them, or the oncoming folks who must avoid them, ABS equipment working overtime, as they vainly attempt to enter a freeway! (At which time, the V6’s POWAH-in-reserve is good to get around said roadblock!)

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “There are very few patrol cars on modern freeways, and even fewer on the backroads.”

      Note that none of the places this poster has lived are in Washington state.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    FYI I’ve never had traction issues with FWD vehicles that have a nice heavy V6 engine over the front wheels (and decent tires), but I’m not trying to do a John Force imitation in a family sedan either.

    I know I’m outside the typical users parameters but my driving is roughly 70% highway and 30% city. The gaps between highway fuel economy numbers are not that great for 4 cyl vs V6 versions of most cars. Torquey power is what I want and torquey power I shall have.

    Being able to point the hood at the horizon, set the cruise control, and gobble up the interstate miles is a beautiful American experience. Six or eight cylinders is the best way to do that.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Isn’t that whole “big heavy V6” thing kinda outdated? I just looked up the difference between the Camry’s engines and the 4-cyl is 330 lbs and the V6 is 359 lbs.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        To me that means the 4 cyl is a porker.

        But yes I grew up in the time when cast iron block and cast iron heads was completely normal unless you were talking about exotic machinery.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Celebrity!

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @Corey

            2.8/3.1 ltr V6 – 350 lbs

            Pontiac “Iron Duke” – 350 lbs

            (reference weights I could find online)

            http://www.35pickup.com/mulligan/weight.txt

            @quaquaqua – thanks for letting us know that there’s no weight penalty for a ton more power. :-)

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I’ve never driven an Iron Duke vehicle, but I want to, kind of. Maybe a Cimarron.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            The most frustrating and “WTF” is GM thinking Iron Duke experiences have to be:

            F-body Camaro with automatic

            Citation

            Celebrity Eurosport (available with the slightly improved “Tech 4” edition of the Iron Duke.)

          • 0 avatar
            Sam Hall

            I learned to drive on two different Celebritys. I thought they were great at the time, but in retrospect they were great the way a Honda Shadow 250 is great in the MSF course–you never feel like it’s going to run away with you.

            For a sense of what a boat anchor the Iron Duke was, the basic block is still in production as the MerCruiser 3.0, somehow making 135hp while being the cheapest possible way to get oneself a nice-looking family boat that can tow a tube or water skier.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Yeah the early TBI version of the Iron Duke made 92 hp while at the end of production it might have been up to 120 hp in the S10.

            That 135 hp is of course without the automotive emission controls and not bad for a engine that is just 151 ci of displacement.

          • 0 avatar
            CobraJet

            The fact that the Iron Duke Block is used for marine engines is fitting. I rented many a Celebrity and Pontiac 6000 back in the day with the 4 cyl. Under load they all sounded like an Evinrude outboard engine.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    If you want it and can afford it, get the 6. I am more than happy with the four I have now.. Except in my Tacoma, thing was scary slow and not confidence inspiring- even with the revs up there.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Lot to unpack here, but I have learned that I greatly like overwhelming power from my vehicles so barring a major lifestyle change that is what I’ll keep purchasing.

    Although I vastly prefer RWD.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Dodge has a Charger for you. I’ll take mine in electric frog green with a white leather interior and a Hemi. And yes, that is a combination you can buy. Say what you will, they may be the only manufacturer offering cars in, you know, COLORS instead of literally six shades of metallic gray.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    To me, the performance of the four cylinder engines in the mid size sedans is more than adequate for my needs. I have no trouble squealing the front tires on my 14 Accord CVT. While the horsepower of both four and six cylinder engines in mid sizers has increased lock step over the last decade, the auto trannys in the four cylinders have improved more resulting in better performance and efficiency.
    The two things I don’t like about six cylinders in mid sizers are
    1. Packaging that results in difficult service especially the spark plugs on the fire will side of the engine as well as the serpentine belt.
    2. Nose heavy weight distribution. FWD cars are already nose heave without the extra weight of the six cylinder engine.
    Just my two cents.

  • avatar
    a8train

    I saw a tarted up V6 camry the other day and had thought out loud how ridiculous the notion of a tarted up camry was. Had snazzy factory looking wheels, yakima roof rack (I dont know why this is a show piece) and a trunk spoiler.

    Who are you fooling? You bought a de-facto car because its the de-facto choice for people who truly do not put much effort in car selection. It has so much going for it in the boring and reliable section, try not to pretend its anything other than what it actually is.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    Nope, if you prefer more power then you prefer more power. That’s me.

    I would *NOT* enjoy a car that takes 9 seconds to get to 65mph.. load that same car with 3 passengers and now its torture.

    I do not do ‘stylish basic transportation’ i did that bit when i was poor, now that I have my 16th year under my belt and decent salary I want more power to enjoy at my command.

    That being said the article does hit on a valid point, if I had a hellcat i’d be depressed (for buying dodge) that I had a car capable of 10’s that I would essentially be driving ta idle loads all day.

    For me, 450hp in my Taurus seems right on the money. It’s there if I need it, I can drive it at 60%+ throttle in town and enjoy the shit out of it without being a smoking tire jack-hole. Then when I drag race at the track I throw in the 100-octane and flash it over to for more torque and run 12.7’s in a freaking ford Taurus all night long.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      “I would *NOT* enjoy a car that takes 9 seconds to get to 65mph.. load that same car with 3 passengers and now its torture.”
      …especially if you’re driving in hilly country like I-5 from Cottage Grove to Grants Pass, when you may end up having to stay in the truck lane on the steep upgrades. Load requirements do make a difference in engine selection.

  • avatar
    quaquaqua

    The reason our choices tend to be near-the-highest-displacement 4-cyl or near-the-highest-displacement V6 and nothing in between is just due to efficiency, I’m guessing. When they do come out with a tweener like GM’s 3 0L, it doesn’t get any better fuel economy than the 3.6L.

    My dad has a V6 Camry. It’s the definition of a sleeper, especially since the engine is so danged quiet you can’t even tell how quickly you’re rocketing to 80 on an on-ramp. And he hasn’t had a “sharp” dropoff in fuel economy either, he’s getting the same fuel economy he got with his 4 cylinder Fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      True story — I went with my folks to Monroe, MI, to pick up a new-to-them boat, and I was to ferry my Dad’s then-new 1999 Accord V6 back south! Hondas in general are good at deceptive speeds!

      Getting on I-75 South, I decide to plant my right foot! Good rush of power! I check traffic over my shoulder..feels like I’m doing 80…

      ..except what is the rest of the traffic in front doing IN REVERSE??!! To my shock, I was doing a gen-you-wine BUCK-TEN, and the car was still pulling like a 747 on takeoff! This was the three-liter with the badly-designed 2nd-gear oiling passages in the transmission; ultimately, MY 2000 Accord V6, same car, same four-speed glass slushbox, had said transmission replaced! Dad’s 1999 was just fine!

      I’d love to be able to take any of my V6 Accords to Germany to let them run on the Autobahn! The 9th-Gen (like my 2013) would be the best, between my 6th and 7th, and my Dad’s 6th, 7th, and 8th-Gens! (Around a buck-five or so, with tires and running-gear checked in advance, would be the perfect speed for eating up the miles!)

  • avatar
    Nick 2012

    “By tolerating a sharp increase in fuel consumption.”

    I don’t know about this – on the highway, the big 6s are able to knock out 4-cyl comparable fuel economy. I took a Fusion Hybrid from DC to Indiana within 5mph of the speed limit at all times and barely cracked 30mpg.

    I took a W-body 3.6L Impala from Northern Indiana to Nashville and drove with abandon, and averaged 33mpg.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Raised on a series of wheezy 4 cylinders, braking was the only way I knew how to accelerate out of dangerous situations. When I purchased my first powerful car, the realization that I could drive away from certain situations was a revelation.

    Having the choice between driving out of a situation or braking out of a situation is safer than the sole option of braking out of a situation.

    No, V6-engined mid-sized sedans are not way over the top.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Sure it’s over the top. 5.8 seconds to 60 for a FWD family sedan? Ridiculous for most buyers. Perhaps beyond the capability of the chassis unless you really know what you’re doing. But there’s still a lot to recommend it.

    The absolutely effortless way a 3.5 liter engine pulls a midsize sedan is just a wonderful thing even if you are only using a quarter of the available power. And having driven some very good 2.0 turbos in the GTI and BMW 328, I still prefer the linear, instantaneous power delivery and nicer sound of the 3.5 V6 in the Camry and Accord. These are essentially luxury car powertrains in affordable family whips. Celebrate this while you can.

    $30K will buy you a better balance of power and handling elsewhere, especially if you are OK with lightly used, but if I were buying a practical $30K family sedan it would almost certainly be an Accord or Camry V6. Another $300 in disposable income a month and I would almost certainly ditch our 4 cylinder Altima for a V6 Camry XSE and enjoy the same utilitarian qualities with a luxurious reserve of refined power. Well, I still might take the GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Until you tune a 2.0T of era it is the smoothest, turbine-like acceleration that gets up to speed so seamlessly. Plus maintaining 70 mph for hours on end is easy 30+ mpg. Want to maintain 60 mpg and 40 mpg is easily insight with today’s turbo-4’s.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I’ve always felt there needed to be something in-between. Maybe a 3L or lightly turbo’d 2.5 producing something between the 210 to 220 HP. If Mazda made a 3L or skyactive, I’d be all over that.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I’m afraid you’ve missed the boat on that one. Volvo’s low-pressure turbo 2.4 was exactly what you’re describing. I think it had about 210 HP and moved my old V70 surprisingly well. I wasn’t going to win any drag races, but I never felt that it was underpowered. I had previously owned a Volvo 960 with a 3.0L I6, which was a delight, but not quite as spry as the V70’s turbo. Of course, one was RWD, the other was FWD; very different experiences.

  • avatar
    noorct

    Nah I don’t think it’s overrated. To be honest I’ve never found the gap in highway fuel economy to be all that large between an adequately overpowered 4 and an ‘overpowered’ 6. Maybe 15% is a good real world apples to apples comparison.

    I’m a bit out of the norm because I drive 25000 miles a year and 90% of them are highway miles, so the differentiation would save me semi-substantial sums. But I find the tradeoff worthwhile in terms of smoothness and passing power on the freeway.

    I’d also add that the 50% increase number is really right in line with what I feel it takes to convince me to pony up for an upgraded engine. Ignoring V6 engines for the moment, optional turbos follow roughly the same curve (even more so for torque than HP). Ford Fusion is an example (175 hp to 240, ignoring twin turbo for a moment), Sonata (also roughly in line). Arguably this is the kind of gap you need to make a worthwhile argument for an upgrade.

    I’d think a little bit about the value equation of 2-4000 for an engine that got you from 180 to 216 (20% increase) or 234 (30% increase). It just doesn’t feel like a lot for the money even if it’s arguably just as usable in 99% of the situations.

    /of course the same argument can be made for why upgrade to the optional engine at all of course….

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I’ve been driving a PHEV Fusion for the last three years. For the kind of driving I get to do, even the 2.0 that is hamstrung with late intake valve closing is more than enough. The six might be useful if you live in a high altitude place with lots of fast secondary roads, but for probably 98% of us the I4 is plenty.

    As far as smoothness goes, there is nothing about a V6 that is inherently smooth. If you can keep a four banger under 2 liters its secondary imbalance can be taken care of with engine mounts.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I think there are a couple factors at play for the V6 midsize standard sedan.

    -Older people like to say “It has all the options!” and go for the V6.
    -There’s a nice feeling in having -much more than enough- power in any situation.
    -Sometimes certain options are only present on the V6 trim.

    They’re not over the top for people who fit into any of the above three things, and who don’t want to get spendy for a luxury ES350.

    I will say though, if you’re going full Accord V6 Touring, you may as well step up to the TSX V6 for the same money.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      They’re not the same money, though, at least not with the same features. The Accord also rides better. Choosing the Acura doesn’t make any sense, not with how far they’ve fallen in sportiness and luxury.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    What chaps my butt about V6-engined midsize cars is how few of their drivers are willing to use all that extra power they paid for. For example, trying to merge onto a freeway in my Miata and I’m stuck behind an Accord V6 with more than twice my HP who’s afraid to exceed 55 mph. If you’re only willing to use half of your car’s available horsepower, why didn’t you buy the 4-banger and save some money?

    Otherwise, V6-engined midsize cars are great. Power to the people!

    My next appliance/commuter (non-Miata) car is probably going to be a five-year-old 3.6 W-body Impala or V6 Camry. In rush-hour traffic, anonymity is a good thing.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I liked them enough to buy one, and I’m glad they’re offered.

    Regular cars being overpowered seems like a good problem to have, I am benefitting from it.

    I have a Camry V6, and maybe I’m used to it, but it doesn’t seem out of control. And it gets 30+ mpg on the highway.

    It doesn’t sound like a coffee grinder, it has effortless acceleration, and it loafs down the freeway at 80 mph. The V6 is more than just all out speed, although it has that too.

    If you have to get an affordable, reliable, practical car, with room for car seats, who says you shouldn’t be able to get one that also does the 1/4 mile in 14 seconds at 100 mph?

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      “It doesn’t sound like a coffee grinder, it has effortless acceleration, and it loafs down the freeway at 80 mph. The V6 is more than just all out speed, although it has that too.”

      This. Both my current rides are 4-bangers, and they’re fine, but a V6 is just finer.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Turbo-4 today is 100 mph 1/4 mile crusher. It is a 105-107 mph with a ecu tune.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    NAY, THE 3800 SERIES II BLESSED US WITH THE HOLIEST OF TORQUE AND HE SHALL SMITE YOUR BLASPHEMOUS PREACHING!

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    My observation is that extra power just means you hit the tree harder when you overdrive your ability and run off the road.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Comments are all over the place in here.

    -Why don’t V6 sedan buyers drive like a-holes and use the power they have?

    -The power of a V6 sedan is so overhelming for the average driver that they just fly off the road and hit trees.

    Lol.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Asked…
      -Why don’t V6 sedan buyers drive like a-holes and use the power they have?

      and answered.
      -The power of a V6 sedan is so overhelming for the average driver that they just fly off the road and hit trees.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        You don’t need to drive like an a-hole to use the power and you don’t need to be John Force to be able to handle 270 hp. Geez.

        I don’t use the power everyday, but sometimes I do, and I don’t fly off the road.

        It’s nice on a freeway on-ramp on a Sunday morning. Or when dude-bro is next to you at the stoplight in his WRX. Nothing wreckless, just having a little fun.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Good for passing on two-lanes as well.

          Assuming one doesn’t get cocky from all the power and go for risky gaps, that is. I’d have to be careful. With great power comes great responsibility.

          • 0 avatar
            Paragon

            Yes, thanks for the wise reminder that with great power comes great responsibility. Just thought that it bears repeating.

      • 0 avatar
        slance66

        Few things are as dangerous as merging onto a 65 MPH interstate at 50 MPH or below. That’s reckless and terrifying.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    When we were looking to buy we happened to be making a trip to see the in-laws and rented an Avenger since that was on our short list. It had a 4 cylinder and was perfectly adequate for running on the 4 lane and made it over the mountains just fine.

    Fast forward a bit and we bought the Pentastar powered one. Why? We live in mid-western farm country full of 2 lane roads with short passing zones. It has significantly better passing power for those farm trucks, slow cars, tractors and so on in those short zones. Also, after checking the mileage we are within 1 mpg mixed that the 4 cylinder gave us. When we took it on vacation we got better than sticker on the highway and we got better mileage than the 4 cylinder Rogue with a CVT we took the next year.

    One thing I will say though is when we bought it the torque steer was horrible on the truck rutted 2 lane roads. So much so you had to be careful changing lanes to pass. Now that we got rid of the OEM Goodyear Eagle LS tires and have some BFG Comp-2 A/S tires we no longer have that issue. You can now two finger the steering wheel at full throttle. We can also drive around in snow and rain with these tires as well.

    Other than the small premium we paid for the 6, I see no disadvantage to it. The car still handles very well for a FWD car and is smoother and just as quiet unless you have your foot down. When you do have your foot down it sounds so much better. Not V8 better, but better. Mileage is margin of error different.

    Other than for the credit score challenged I don’t know why they even sell the 4 cylinder version.

  • avatar
    MartyToo

    I’m guilty as charged. Had a 2009 Accord V6. Now m have 2013 V6 coupe.
    Fun yes.
    Inexpensive fun, yes.
    Old guy can climb out of the bucket seat, yes (unlike the Toyota 86/Scion/Subaru).
    Can pass young whippersnappers in their coupes, sometimes.
    Can buy with cash in the bank, yes.
    Can go to jail in an instant, yes (but so far I’ve been lucky/smart/lucky).

    This weekend my wife and I are doing a 200 or so round trip twice (due to a memorial service for a dear friend). I want to take the coupe, but if I take the CRV we will not be making any exciting turns or merges.

    Hmm…..

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    The 4cyl is enough. Fast enough to merge, hold speed, good MPG. Especially if turbo.

    However, the desire in a V6 or V8 for me is the refinement. They’re just smoother and to me, feel much more luxurious for that reason alone.

    I hope they don’t disappear. Turbo 4s look equal on paper, but just feel cheap in the real world.

  • avatar
    pprj

    I had a V6 accord for a couple of years. I wanted the V6. However, one of the car’s “features” drove me crazy. Honda’s VCM, Variable Cylinder Management, allowed the car to turn off 2 and sometimes 3 cylinders depending on the conditions.
    And I could feel it when 2 cylinders shut off. The engine sound changed, vibrations pattern changed…. it drove me crazy to the point I got rid of the car.
    I wanted a 6 cylinder, not a “sometimes V6/V4/V3”.
    And I quickly learned this can’t be turned off.
    So, for me, it is a V6 or I6, but give me the option to turn VCM off or you don’t get my business.
    And even Honda acknowledges the vibration problem.
    https: // www . youtube . com/watch?v=tIZP0024stE

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      Can’t remember where I read it, but there was an interview with a Toyota engineer, and the engineer was asked why they didn’t have VCM on their V6 like Honda did. The Toyota engineer said they looked at it, but didn’t adopt because of drivability and reliability concerns.

      2GR-FE FTW.

      • 0 avatar
        pprj

        Exactly. It this is why my wife opted for a Sienna instead of a Odyssey 2 years after I got rid of my Accord.
        So yes, go buy your V6 if you can, but stay away from Honda. VCM creates problems, damages the engine mounts, and destroys the driving experience.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      My 2008 Impala had cylinder shutdown where it went from 6 to 3 cylinders. It was virtually seamless and all it felt like was the transmission going into lockup. Many times I had to look on the dash to see if it was in 3 or 6 cylinder mode. I have also driven plenty of Hemi Rams trucks and Silverado 5.3 with cylinder shutdown and they behave about the same so I think it’s more a Honda problem than a cylinder shutdown issue in general.

    • 0 avatar
      thunderjet

      Which year Accord? I’ve got a ’17 V6 and can’t tell when it goes into 3 cylinder mode.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      ….and it didn’t burn extra oil?

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Mine burned a little bit during the break-in, about 1/4-quart, from ~1,500-2,000 miles. Then not a drop more, just like my previous Hondas. “Accord”-ing to the oil analyses from Blackstone Labs, the car’s doing just fine!

        VCM is a little intrusive in the drive home from work on a winter day, much more noticeable when cold, particularly at ~50mph cruise. (It will even kick in at 20mph.) Otherwise, I’ve gotten used to it.

        There is a tune available that allows VCM to be switched off altogether — don’t recall the name — it’s not Hondata.

        Is a V6 too much??!! HELL-TO-THE-FVCKING-NO!!!!! Docile around town, but Mr. Hyde, with WEAPONS-GRADE TORQUE-POWAH is but a plant of the right foot to the FloorLiner away!!!

        Jack’s praise of the Camry SE notwithstanding, I never thought I’d see the day I’d say this! But if Honda drops that glorious, sonorous Q-ship of a V6 in the Accord for a wheezing, gerbil-powered four-banging POS (which, under the lead-footed direction of my Dad and I last September, with three pax aboard and moderate A/C use, averaged 35mpg, at a 68mph trip-computer-indicated average speed, on a 1,400 mile round-trip bahn-storm between Toledo, Ohio and Minneapolis, Minnesota), I will have two options.

        1. Knowing that I’m a shameless techie, the service manager at my Honda dealer lent me a 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid Sedan whilst the 2013 in my avatar was under their care for a known problem with spontaneous horn-sounding. During the five total days in my care, not having to vary my driving style a whit, that car pulled-down 33mpg (during winter in Northwest Ohio, on winter-blend gas, which doesn’t do MPGs any favors in Honda engines, fully 10mpgs over my Touring V6)! And the combination of the K20 Atkinson-Cycle NA four, two electric motors, and a CVT, WILL move things along quite nicely if you need to!

        My gripes were two:

        a. Car And Driver, in their most recent 10 Best competition, with the Accord range making the list for the gazillionth tim, asked, “[w]hy is this car mooing?” There’s something in the Hybrid system which causes a moaning sound when the vehicle is cold; it went away once things warmed, but it would be hard to get used to on a daily basis. Other hybrid qualities like the fast-idling (for cat light-off, likely) which didn’t reduce power when the car was first put into gear, were off-putting! And at full-gallop, like Subie Justys and modern Nissan CVTs, the gas engine wound-up and droned away while speed increased, unlike what Honda’s CVTs do when paired with a pure ICE in front of it!

        b. I do need to drop the rear seat occasionally for cargo-carrying purposes. The seat in the current HAH doesn’t fold down, but if they would put the tire-inflator which comes in lieu of a donut spare on the HAH off to the side in the trunk, my guess is that they could raise the trunk floor a couple inches and put the hybrid batteries there, allowing for a flip-down seat in the 10th-Gen Accord Hybrid.

        2. The next Camry will be keeping the V6! In a color similar to my Modern Steel Metallic Accord, with black vinyl-wrap on select areas, the God-awful look of that predator-grille could be rendered tolerable!

        I’d be better-served with option 1 if Honda decides to bow at the altar of those who seek to regulate the natural byproduct of aerobic respiration as a pollutant, but the two issues I cited ARE deal-breaking, and will drive me to the Toyota camp after 24 years of Honda ownership, if they don’t address them!

        If Honda DOES keep a V6, with either the “J”-architecture or new architecture (with a timing chain which WON’T mess-up a-la the 3.9L POS in my boss’s wife’s Acadia, which they just traded for a Dodge Journey lease), I’ll have my fourth Accord in my garage in a couple years!

  • avatar
    e30gator

    It’d been a couple of years since I rented a car in the US. When my Enclave was in for service, the dealership rented me a ’17 Impala from Enterprise. Granted, it’s full-sized, but I was blown away by the power on tap. Today’s vanilla V6 sedan would beat the literal crap out of yesterday’s supercars.

    That said, I can see how an inexperienced or irresponsible driver can get themselves into trouble with one. But then again, is that any different than my dad conning my grandparents into buying him a ’70 Buick GS 400 on the merits that it wasn’t a Chevelle and then promptly driving it into a ditch?

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      I had a ’16 Impala with the V6 last year on a trip to Chicago and I had to say that I was quite impressed with the machine’s performance. Stately is what I would call it. If I needed a sleeper mile-chewer, I would have to look very closely at it. The car did exactly as you commanded, when you commanded. The only downside was the gunslit rear window and the ugliness of GM still using their terrible aqua blue. If only there was a Pontiac Grand Prix on that platform.

      Or hell, stuff it into a Mazda 6 and finally fix that car’s lack of performance.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      My 2013 W-body Impala with the 3.6 and 300 Hp and 262 torque is quite entertaining with the hammer down all the way. It’s even quicker in “sport mode” and I have several times recorded 5.5 second runs to 60. Meanwhile I have easily seen 31-32 on highway trips going well over 70 MPH and have recorded up to 35 on a pure trip going about 67 MPH!

      The new Epsilon Impala uses the same basic engine but with 5 more horses and a little more torque and 2.77 final drive instead of 2.44 so performance feels similar despite weighting more.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        Everyone else records your Impala at 6.5 seconds to 60.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        We saw 32 mpg @ 60 mph across PA-76 one cold Xmas in a 2012 Malibu LTZ. Terrible torque steering in the wet from a stop but quick enough to be fun.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Presumably, your Impala was not a rental-fleet castoff; I had such a model for a week whilst waiting to take delivery of the car in my avatar — it had the non-OnStar, ovoid rearview mirror from the later Geo Prizm, with the built-in map lights, and between that mirror, the skyscraper-sized rear headrests, and the nearly-DLO-fail C-pillar windows, changing lanes was almost a point-and-pray exercise! My guess is that the mirror in the normal, non-fleet cars helped things a bunch, as the car was at least otherwise competent in execution.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Hyundai/Kia realized this years ago when they introduced the 4-cylinder-only 2011 Sonata/Optima. I find the 2.4L to be quite responsive, even if it’s not powerful.

    Going all-4 also reduces vehicle complexity and cost. There’s no point designing for an option only a few percentage of your customers will take.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Engines heads can be costly when have to make two of them instead of one.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Yet Toyota admits that the folks who take the option are worth pleasing, despite the V6 only being equipped in ten percent of the Camry production.

      If they’ve made the Camry fun to drive versus just an appliance, it’ll be an epic battle between Honda and Toyota for best midsize! Both realize that anything less than an “A”-game effort is gonna result in an a$$-kicking!

      OTOH, if Honda drops the V6, they’ll have ceded the market to Toyota!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    In an Impala or Avalon, I wouldn’t have either without a V6, but in a Malibu or similar and smaller, 4 cylinders should be just fine.

    Today’s V6s are so powerful, they make 60s V8-powered belchfires look slow.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The new Camaro 3.6l is rated at 335 horsepower! Crazy considering a 1997 C5 Corvette 5.7l was rated at 345 horsepower.

      But then there is torque, which everybody drives. The Camaro 2.0T is making 295 lb-ft of torque which is slightly more than the V6. With some torque management loosening and a slight timing bump the little 2.0T can see around 350 lb-ft of torque. Got to love modern DI and VVT.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    4 cylinders is plenty for a mid-sized sedan, and it doesn’t need to be turbocharged to get the job done. The V-6 versions of these vehicles are generally less nimble thanks to the extra weight, and harder to maintain.

    A good inline-5 makes an interesting alternative, but hardly anyone makes those anymore. The manual transmission, non-turbo, 5 cylinder Volvo 850 I drove for years was a pleasure to drive and had “only” 168 hp.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    No, you don’t need that kind of power every day, but it’s nice to have when you’re carrying four people and luggage, uphill, with the AC on and you want to maintain a brisk pace.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    AVT

    What intrigues me is the blurring lines between midsize and fullsize sedans. Looking at an accord vs a taurus and outside dimensions are almost identical. Yet look at the classification and Honda says its accord is midsize while the taurus is full size. Similar with the altima and the maxima. Personally, I would prefer the V6 as some of the extra mass does help in winter driving conditions. One of my favorite V6 cars was the previous generation nissan maxima. Very powerful V6 and the CVT did not really seem to intrude on the driving experience as much as one may have expected or thought. I will say, while I do prefer standard transmissions, the CVT and V6 in the Maxima provided remarkable passing power when needed. Which is really the only point of the V6 in front wheel drive sedans today. More than anything, the ability to quickly merge and pass traffic (say in early/late rush hour going to work) is what attracts people too them.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Mid-size sedans have grown to full-size proportions so having a 6 cylinder engine is hardly “over the top”.

    However, to me the transmission and chassis are just as important as the engine. Nissan’s CVT is a non-started for me – even with the V6.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    I don’t think the V6 family sedans are over the top, though a well-executed four cylinder with 6MT can be just as much fun, sometimes more, depending on the car’s overall goodness. I have examples of both: 2010 Acura TSX 6MT and 2010 Ford Fusion SEL V6 (formerly my dad’s).

    Yes, I like the Ford’s additional punch in some situations, especially on the highway, and I’m very glad I have the V6 in that car because the four had only 175hp. But the Acura’s classic Honda high-revving I4/MT combo is fantastic, and the car’s chassis dynamics are so superior, IMO, that the Acura is in another league as a driver’s car. The Ford isn’t exactly sloppy, but the Acura has much better handling AND ride quality. (Well, TBH, the Ford was a little sloppy until I added a front upper strut tower brace.)

    So yeah, power is nice and will make an otherwise boring car like my Fusion a lot better, but it sure isn’t everything.

  • avatar

    V6 I hate pressing the peddle more then a 1/2″ in daily driving. I want to keep up with stoplight traffic without ever revving over 2800 rpm. Honestly that’s the real reason for high horse cars deserving their premium. The engine never has to work hard enough so as to be intrusive

  • avatar
    prisoners

    If I had to replace my ’03 Acura CL-S today it would be with a V6 Accord coupe w the 6-speed manual. It’s essentially the direct replacement for what I have, and IMO represents a great blend of comfort, fun, and looks for a decent price. My only complaint is the FWD heaviness. I’ve had my car for 14 years and over 200k miles with minimal faults making me a firm believer in Honda reliability and quality.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I prefer something smooth. If it is a four cylinder, I want it in something that revs to the moon. In my family car, I prefer a V6/I6 or V8 that can be smooth from idle to redline without balance shafts or active engine mounts. It is not just about power, but I do also prefer an excess of power over sufficient power. I will take the minimal weight penalty for the V6, or in my case the V8.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    We had several rental 2014-2016 Malibus with the base 196 HP 2.5 and never felt like it was underpowered. It felt quicker than many of my prior V6’s from the 90’s to early 00’s. My buddies 2015 Sonata Limited 2.4 was similar if a tad slower. They were perfectly fine 98& of the time. Now bigger heavier cars like the Impala and Charger or Taurus need a V6 if you want power with the A/C blaring and passengers aboard.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “Are V6-Engined Midsize Sedans Way Over The Top?”

    PUT Big hairy azzed V8’s in everything.

    MAVGA – Make American V8’s Great Again

  • avatar
    RobbieAZ

    I had a 4 cylinder C300 as a loaner while my C450 was getting its windows tinted and I am not sorry I spent the extra money for the biturbo V6. The fun factor and the exhaust note differences are huge.

  • avatar
    slingshot

    When I purchased my 2008 V-6 Honda Accord, I also test drove the four cylinder version, it didn’t have much pep. Now my son is driving it with over 200,000 miles at 25 mpg.

    My 2015 V-6 Crosstour which weighs 500 pounds more gets 24.5 mpg and I have a heavy foot. The V-6 models also have an automatic transmission not a CVT.

    I think the V-6 makes a big difference when entering a highway and passing.

    I have never had an issue with the VCM in either car. The only way I can tell that is on is the ECO light comes on.

    I hope they keep the V-6 in the next Accord model.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    According to this review, the Honda Accord V6 makes it a better car than the E Class. Faster and better mpg too.

    Why the pedestrian Honda Accord out-achieves the new Mercedes-Benz E-class.
    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/honda-accord-2017-10best-cars-feature

  • avatar
    Dan

    I don’t have a use in the world for 300+ horsepower and a five and change 0-60.

    But a V6 (or better still a V8) that does both of those things at 6000 rpm will give me the 170 horsepower and 10 or 12 seconds to 60 that I actually do use without harsh shifts or obnoxious noises.

    A boosted four that doesn’t need to rev itself to death is halfway there but they still sound like the gutless economy cars that I drove when I couldn’t afford something nice and damned if I’m paying new car money to be reminded of those times again.

  • avatar
    Mn12Fanatic

    For most drivers a turbo 4 cylinder in a midsize car is more than anyone will ever need. In fact, the 5sfe in my Camry is pretty gutless but it makes just enough power so it’s not abysmal like the pushrod chevy 2.2. Also, Ford is putting the 2.7 Ecoboost in the Fusion, so technically there are 5 V6 midsize cars for sale now!!! If you think 280 HP is cray cray then what about 325 HP and 385 Ft Lb! I say, bring it on! Also, that car has a further advantage in that it’s AWD.

  • avatar
    George B

    Timothy, I think the reason V6 sedans have more power than the driver can use is simply because so few V6 sedans are built relative to the base 4 cylinder model. The V6 sedans get relatively large V6s primarily designed for minivans, large CUVs, etc. The volume of V6 sedans sold doesn’t justify a separate lower displacement V6 and small numbers of sedans with bigger engine doesn’t impact the manufacturers weighted average fuel economy much.

  • avatar
    pipedown

    I’m going to say no. However, instead of a new V6 Accord for the same ballpark cost, I bought a CPO 2014 Biturbo V8 E550 4Matic. Yeah, probably a little ridiculous, but you only live once.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    No, they’re not over the top. I liked the Passat 3.6 SEL when I test drove it, and had it not been for Dieselgate I would have bought one to replace my TDI.

    After much anguishing over what to buy I eventually decided to go with a Fusion Titanium AWD. I really like the car, but after several months of ownership I am no fan of the engine. Yeah, there’s plenty or torque, sure. But it doesn’t sound that great, and the fuel economy is worse that the 3.5L V-6 on our AWD Edge. I’d love to have had something like that 3.5L or even the 3.7L from the Lincoln MKZ as an option. On paper, the twin scroll 2.0L Ecoboost seemed like a solid option. And in practice it’s honestly not bad, but I would have preferred a V6.

    And for that matter, the Mazda6 still needs a more powerful option as well.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I look at it this way:

    As a family car, a V6 midsize sedan is somewhere between “you only live once” and the ultra safe choice.

    For me, the YOLO choice would’ve been a V8 Mustang and not worrying about how car seats fit, insurance, mileage, etc.

    The safe choice would be a CUV penalty box like a CR-V or RAV4, or a 4 cylinder automatic sedan.

    A V6 midsize sedan is in the middle, just right.

  • avatar
    Von

    No, because there is a throttle and not an on/off switch.

  • avatar
    RS

    Most V6 motors in transverse orientation are hard to work on. 4 cylinder win ease of maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      I’m as DIY of a guy as it gets, but the chances of having to “crack open” a modern motor (be it 4cyl or 6) before 100k are just about nil. And even at 100k, it will probably be for the suggested spark plug and coolant change (pro tip, if it runs just fine the plugs can probably be left alone). on it’s older J-series 6 cyls, Honda used to design the intake manifold in a way that the rear plugs were accessible without removing said manifold. Oil changes are just as easy or difficult on a 4 or a 6, it all comes down to filter location.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Japanese v6s require timing belt at 100 and most likely a water pump. A turbo-4 might need a $48.99 turbo rebuild kit at 300,000 miles.

        • 0 avatar
          Corey Lewis

          Not all Japanese V6 engines have a belt. Many are chain-driven.

          • 0 avatar
            nels0300

            Only the Honda has a belt.

            The VQ and 2GR have chains and I’d take either one of those motors over a turbo 4 if you’re worried about longevity and maintenance.

            That turbo cooks all of the plastic and rubber under the hood.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I’ll take a Honda J-series with a belt for long term longevity and low running costs (yes even with the belt change) over any turbo 4. It’s really not that bad to change, Honda’s folks design their stuff pretty well in regards to maintenance tasks. And yes Toyota’s 2GR is every bit as reliable, and is chain driven since its first appearance in 2005.

          • 0 avatar
            nels0300

            The J series belt wouldn’t bother me, the VCM would. It hasn’t had the best track record.

            Really, the only upgrade engined midsize sedan without warts is the Camry V6.

            The J series has VCM. The VQs come attached to CVTs. The VW and FCA V6s come attached to VW and FCA vehicles. The rest have direct injection, turbocharged, gas guzzling coffee grinders.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    I think that the current V6 midsize sedans are fine power wise. 6 (or slightly less) seconds to 60mph is quick, and most V6 buyers won’t even use that much power every day. I bought a ’17 V6 Accord precisely because of how quick it was vs. the I4. I tried a couple competitors 2.0T cars and they were not nearly as impressive as the Honda 3.5 V6.

    But, and this could be why I don’t think the modern V6 midsize cars are too powerful, I also have two RWD coupes in the garage. One has 305hp, the other 350hp. They are both quicker than the Accord, which throws my “excessive power” meter off.

    Plus I kind of like slapping the Accord into Sport mode and blowing the doors off some other “fast/sporty” car with a 4 door sedan.

  • avatar
    nvinen

    “By tolerating a sharp increase in fuel consumption.”

    When I traded in my 2012(ish) 2.4l Accord for a 2014(ish) V6 Accord, my fuel consumption went down. My commute may not be the same as your (YMMV) but V6 doesn’t necessarily mean more fuel consumption. The V6 Accord had cylinder deactivation which may be part of the reason.

    “But is it possible to deny, from a purely objective standpoint, that these cars are hugely overpowered?”

    Yes, absolutely. I was so glad I upgraded. The car was much nicer to drive, especially in heavy traffic when pulling out to change lanes or overtake. No question about it.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The power level of the current crop of V6 midsize sedans is getting close to the point where it’s not tractable through front-wheel-drive drivetrains without exotic suspension tricks. But, for now, they still work.

    The power is enough, though, that I wouldn’t put a kid just learning to drive or a driver with a history of bad decisions in one.

    As ever, the problem with four-cylinder engines, whether blown or not, is the sound. Four-cylinder power levels are just fine in many classes of cars these days, but the sound still makes me think of Iron Dukes and carbureted Hondas.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Well lets see …according to several of you 99 percent of everyone only need a 4 cyl. 99 percent of everyone cant afford a 6 cyl so they should stop…AM I right so far. Well ok the one about being able to afford it comes from other articles they have published here on this site but you get the jest.

    For me a 4 is the last thing on my list. Sixes satisfy me more. My next vehicle will have atleast a 4 and if gas is cheaper an 8 (K900 anyone).

  • avatar

    After driving around in V8s for many years, I went to a four banger, right when the economy crashed and gas prices spiked (pure coincidence). After driving cars with four cylinders for years, I’m ready to move up to a V6.

    More than likely, I’ll have an Accord V6 (albeit with two doors) in my driveway soon-ish.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’m mostly just disappointed when V6s are wasted on the slow, but for the few who use it properly, why not?

    That said, as I’ve said before, I’ve driven V6s that had less instant power delivery than their turbo 4 counterparts (and were less efficient to boot).

  • avatar
    steverock

    I drive a 2015 Passat SEL with the V6 and it has a tremendous amount of power. The DSG transmission is great as well. Having that engine really changes the character of the car and makes it feel more like a luxury car. I was going to buy a certified 5 series with the four cylinder turbo but I looked at the Passat as it had a lot of back seat space (I have two kids in car seats), and that engine along with the extra space is the reason I bought it. I think it’s a very underrated car.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    wow- i dont think ive ever driven a car with more than 120hp, max, ever, in 48 years. 75 chevelle wagon/350 V8, 1973 laguna 350/V8 were the beater hand me downs in the 80s.

    on to the 79 diplomat, slant6, VW rabbit convertible, 98 civic, and 2006 scion xA. ive always liked driving “slow” cars fast, so IDK what id do with a 500 scorpion, or similar.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    The problem with this article is that the premise is you have a 4 cyl fwd sedan and you put a heavier v6 upfront so of course you exaggerate the handling with more power more weight in the worst possible place.

    I personally see this as just more justification that an FWD car is a compromised platform.

    If you have an RWD v6 and replace with a v8 then you may not have the issues you experience with an FWD platform.

    In some cases we’ve seen, they replaced an iron block v6 with an all aluminium V8 for very little or even no downside.

    If the article above restricts itself to FWD cars then yeah, the conclusion is forgone.

    To go further, our market has an Impreza N/A 4wd sedan. You can also get the WRX with more power. There shouldnt be a handling downside that wasnt already there.

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