V6 vs V8 – 12 Pros and Cons of V6 and V8 Engines

V-type engines use a design where there are two even banks of cylinders around the crankshaft instead of placing them in a straight line. If you use a model that features a V6, then there are two banks of three that you will maintain. A V8 would then have two banks of four.

There are several similarities to consider with the V6 vs. the V8 design. These engines are typically more compact and lightweight than other designs. If there is excellent balance in the design of the vehicle, then this weight savings goes toward improve efficiency levels. They can fit into a wide variety of different vehicles as well.

Both the V6 and the V8 have similar disadvantages to think about too. They tend to be more complicated with their design, which means there are more difficulties in the manufacturing process. It can also be more expensive to maintain them when compared to their straight-line counterparts. If the balance isn’t there, then it can lead to additional vibration and mechanical stress.

List of the Pros of a V6 vs. a V8

1. The V6 engine is less nose-heavy when navigating.
Because there are two fewer cylinders to worry about with the V6 engine, there is less of a weight issue to manage when diving into corners, curves, or turns. You will notice an improved performance when compared to the V8, especially if you time your acceleration correctly, because there is less of a tendency to fade to the outside.

You can lose some of the power ceiling for this advantage, so it all depends on what you hope to accomplish with the vehicle. The improved handling provides stability in the V6 that a V8 model has no hope of matching.

2. The horsepower gains with a V8 are minimal over a V6.
The reality of horsepower for a V6 when compared to a V8 are minimal. The Dodge Ram series is an excellent example of this. You can get a 3.6L V6 with 305 HP for under $35,000 that offers almost as much power as the V8 options that come equipped to Chevy or Ford trucks. One of the best engines in vehicles right now gives you 420 pound-feet of torque with a 3L V6 design and 240 HP – that provides up to 29 miles per gallon on the highway. You can achieve similar mileage results with the F-150 from Ford and their EcoBoost technology.

3. You can save money by going with the V6 over the V8.
If you shop smartly for a sportscar or a performance vehicle, then there are some V6 models that can give you almost the same amount of power that you’d receive from a V8. One of those vehicles is the Infiniti Q60 with a twin-turbocharged 3L V6 engine that can get up to 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. You still won’t reach the output of a Mustang or a Camaro, but the extra money you’d be spending on an engine can go into luxury options for your vehicle.

4. Towing isn’t just reserved for the V8 engine.
There are some excellent SUVs on the market today that can tow huge numbers without having a V8 engine under the hood. One of the best examples of this advantage is the Ford Expedition EcoBoost V7. It can tow up to 9,200 pounds thanks to its 460 pound-feet of torque. That gives the vehicle the highest tow rating in its classification of any V4-V8 class.

Land Rover has taken notice of this trend and transformed its lineup from mostly V8 engines to the V6 variety. You can still work with the manufacturer to upgrade it if you want, but the V6 still gives you excellent horsepower and pound-feet numbers that work for the average driver.

5. Almost all V6 engines get better gas mileage.
One of the most significant questions to answer when looking at the V6 vs. V8 debate is how the fuel economy performs under standard driving conditions. Every automaker has plenty of numbers that they can throw around as a way to convince customers that their vehicle is the best. The reality is that in almost every situation in the same model, a V6 is better. Ford with its EcoBoost gets about two extra miles per gallon on the highway. If you compare a V6 Challenger with a V8 version, then you’ll lose up to 5 mpg outside of the city. It is a trend that you see replicated in almost every make and model.

6. There are fewer maintenance issues to worry about with a V6.
Because there are fewer parts with the standard V6 when you compare it to the V8 design, then that means you have less maintenance worries if you choose the smaller engine. There can still be expensive problems that happen with this engine option, but the overall lifetime expense is usually going to be a little less over time. It isn’t a significant advantage, but one worth looking at if everything else in your situation is relatively equal.

List of the Cons of a V6 vs. a V8

1. V8 engines have a higher ceiling for power.
If you decide to go with the V8 engine instead of the V6, then you are paying for a higher power ceiling. Both options offer a compact design that can balance out the movement and acceleration profile of the vehicle. You’ll discover a little more torque comes your way when you hit the gas with the V8 option, but the difference can be minimal in some vehicles. If you’re driving something heavy, go with the upgrade in power to ensure that you can get to where you need to be.

2. The V8 helps you to manage your work site needs.
If you drive a truck, cargo van, or large SUV on work sites, then the power that the V8 provides can be a tremendous advantage. Whether that is true or not is up for debate based on the circumstances of the situation. You will get a better lurch off of the line or an improved start with a heavy load if you go for the larger engine. It works even better if you choose a single-cab truck with a minimal body profile. If you choose something like the Silverado 1500, then you can get 335 HP for less than $40,000.

3. You’ll get more overall speed and acceleration from the V8.
When you start shopping for a sports car, then there are two elements to consider: speed and power. You’ll find some V6 models that can help you to have a good time behind the wheel, but only a V8 will give you the acceleration profile you want. The Ford Mustang GT features a 5L V8 that gives you 435 HP and 400 pound-feet of torque for under $35,000. You can hit your target speed in just seconds without losing control of the vehicle because of the balance Ford puts into it.

Only a handful of V6 sports cars can come close to creating the power of a V8, which is why the latter choice is usually the better option.

4. You can transport more stuff with a V8 compared to a V6.
The reason why you choose a V8 over a V6 is the need to start hauling something. You’ll receive extra power when you make this upgrade that is useful when you are driving something like the 5,700-pound Cadillac Escalade. Could you put a V6 in that vehicle to still get the job done? Perhaps – but there would be an extra element of noise to manage that would be rather unpleasant. Going with the V8 gives you better towing options, even for large SUVs too. The Infiniti QX80 with its standard engine can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

5. The V8 engine sounds better during acceleration.
There is something satisfying that comes from the sound your V8 engine makes when you stomp the gas pedal. As your back crushes into the seat, the roar of the engine makes you feel like you are moving fast. A V6 tries to replicate that experience, but even a V4 in a small car like the Hyundai Accent can do just as well (and sometimes better) when you need instant acceleration. You cannot replicate the power profile in any other engine design unless you go to a V10 or above.

6. V8 engines can have more of a perpendicular angle.
If you compare a turbo V6 to a V8, then you are going to see a lot of similarities to the driving experience. Even the power and acceleration are similar. The V6 still has a disadvantage that goes to its overall design. When you use a V8, then you get the added advantage of having your cylinder at a perpendicular angle. That means the power delivery you receive in the bigger engine delivers a smoother overall result.

Verdict of the Pros and Cons of a V6 vs. a V8 Engine

If you love the feel of a V8 engine as you cruise down the highway or get stuff done at work, then there’s no replacement for the way that you can jump off of the line. It is about as American as the National Anthem, apple pie, and baseball.

The reality of the V6 is that you’ll get the flexibility to do a lot more with the vehicle. If you chase after a turbocharged V6, then you can almost make the power of a standard V8 in most makes and models. You’ll get a better fuel economy too, and then there is less weight on the front tires so that your handling is better.

The pros and cons of a V6 vs. a V8 are more about the power and performance that you need to have from your vehicle. Either engine will get you to where you need to be. If you drive a large truck, van, or SUV and carry or tow a lot of cargo, then the larger engine is going to provide you with a better result. When handling, performance, and cost are your top priorities, then a high-performance V6 engine could save you thousands will providing a similar experience behind the wheel.

About the Author
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.