Photo of a V8 engine.
V8 engines might not get good gas mileage, but they have their advantages. CC by Ahmad Ziyad Maricar/Wikimedia Commons

Fuel efficiency in cars is something that every driver should be aware of. Nobody likes draining the bank account as they fill up the tank. Thus, getting a fuel sipping car is always a good idea. The car industry obviously knows that. The best selling cars in the world are small sedans with 4 cylinder or small 6 cylinder engines. However, there is something that rarely gets brought up – that some vehicles are actually far better off with an 8 cylinder.

You don’t need NASA for this

Fuel efficiency, or gas mileage, is related to a simple principle of physics. It’s called mechanical efficiency. The ratio of energy used in a task to the amount of work done is the mechanical efficiency. The result tells you something. More energy used equals less efficiency. The equation is easy:

Efficiency = Input/Output

In other words, a small engine that has to do more work than a larger engine for the same task will be less mechanically efficient. Thus, it will not perform as well. Thus, it also will not get the optimal gas mileage.

Bigger motors can perform better

The reason for a V8 is simple — they produce more horsepower. That said, large motors are only put into already large vehicles. Trucks, especially full size pickups, are the most common. The Chevy Silverado 1500, for instance, has a V8 and gets 15 mpg in the city. The Corvette comes with a 6.2 L V8, the same size engine as the 1500. However, this is where the difference comes in. The Corvette gets 26 mpg. The Corvette has to do less work, which is why the gas mileage is so much better.

Work also is strain

If you drive a somewhat larger vehicle, like a minivan or a midsize SUV, the mileage drops off with a smaller motor. Even if it’s a turbocharged smaller motor. This benefit is realized by vehicles smaller than a full size, as the engine will not have to work as hard to pull the load and therefore be more efficient. The engine will not work as hard, and perform better. It will also last longer due to less damage.

Sources

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_advantage

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