In the US, the V8 is king. In the 1960s and 1970s, the 6-cylinder engine was considered to be the ‘budget’ alternative to the mighty V8 and was offered in cars at a more affordable price. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the V6 became properly important thanks to cars such as the Buick GNX – which was quicker and faster than a V8-powered Corvette despite having a turbocharged V6.
The 6-cylinder has come a long way since then and is now considered to be the middle-tier engine choice in American cars – with the lower-end and entry-level option usually being a 4-cylinder. This is true in a multitude of cars, from the Chevrolet Camaro to the Cadillac CT5. Some older generation cars such as the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger still offer V6s as the entry-level option, but even they have spiced up their line-ups and added optional all-wheel-drive to those models.
While the V8 engine is still considered the king of the American automobile, the six-pot is slowly creeping in and taking over. The Ford GT supercar is even powered by a 6-cylinder, as is the mighty F-150 Raptor – two vehicles near the top of their segments. With that, here are some of the best 6-cylinder American cars currently for sale on the used market, ranked.
8th Jeep Cherokee Classic
The Jeep Cherokee XJ is one of the best cars Chrysler had ever made. Produced between 1983 and 2001, the XJ was available with a series of engines, but the best and most popular was the 4.0-liter ‘High-Output’ straight-6, which produced 190 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque.
The XJ Cherokee is an excellent choice for off-roading in the great outdoors, thanks to the 4×4 system and the unibody design, the vehicle is stiffer and more controllable than many other off-roaders. A used Jeep Cherokee XJs can now be picked up for as little as $10,000.
7 RAM 1500 V6 Diesel
The RAM 1500 is one of the best workhorses on the market – along with the Ford F-150. The RAM is available with a few engines, ranging from a V6 and a mighty V8 to a rather good diesel. The 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 produces 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque – around 10 lb-ft more than the 5.7-liter V8.
The Diesel V6 isn’t as fast or quick as the gasoline options, but it is much more efficient, and it can tow the same 10,700 lbs – without strain. The RAM 1500 V6 Diesel is a great option for long trips, thanks to the better range and efficiency.
6 Lincoln Aviator
The Lincoln Aviator is the smallest of the executive luxury SUVs within Lincoln’s line-up. The Aviator is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, which produces 400 hp and 415 lb-ft of torque in standard trim, while the higher specification Grand Touring adds a hybrid powertrain – boosting power to nearly 500 hp and 630 lb -ft.
The Aviator is a fantastic alternative to the European luxury SUVs, both on performance and luxury. The vehicle is available with both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive, since it is based on the Ford Explorer.
5 Chrysler 300C
The Chrysler 300C has been around for quite a while now, with the model range being reduced by the year. Currently, the 300C offers a 3.6-liter V6 or a 5.7-liter V8 – one of the few affordable family sedans to still offer a V8.
The V6 is a 3.6-liter unit producing 300 hp and mated to a smooth 8-speed automatic. The 300 is available as standard with rear-wheel drive, but can be optioned with all-wheel drive for the snowy months. Even though it is by now quite old, the 300 is still a great affordable alternative to the Toyota Avalon and Dodge Charger SXT.
4 Dodge Charger SXT
The Charger is one of the few large family sedans that still offer a V6 as the base model. The Dodge Charger SXT may be the entry-level model in the Charger range, but it is a pretty good option and alternative to the equivalent Toyotas, Hondas, and Acuras.
The Charger SXT is fitted with a 3.6-liter V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission going to the rear wheels only, or all four wheels via an optional all-wheel-drive system. While the Charger shares most of its components with the Chrysler 300, it is a sportier alternative and gets updated more often.
3 Chevy Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro is a brilliant muscle car. The Camaro SS with its 6.2-liter V8 gives the Ford Mustang GT and Dodge Challenger Scat Pack some competition, but unlike the Mustang or Challenger, the Camaro has more than two engine configurations to choose from.
While the Camaro has its entry-level turbo 4-cylinder and the big V8, it also offers a mid-range V6. The 335-hp 3.6-liter has a surprisingly guttural soundtrack coming from the exhaust and changes the attitude of the car completely. The V6 Camaro is also available with the 1LE track package, adding a body kit that includes a front splitter, rear diffuser, and a large wing on the trunk.
2 Ford Taurus SHO
The Ford Taurus SHO has always been the go-to American performance family sedan. The first two generations featured V6 engines tuned by Yamaha especially for the Taurus SHO. The model then took a slight detour with a V8 before returning to the V6 for the fourth generation.
The last Taurus SHO had a displacement of 3.5 liters and had two turbochargers bolted onto the side, resulting in 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque going to all four wheels – instead of just the front ones – via a 6-speed automatic. The Taurus SHO is a great choice of a relatively cheap and powerful sedan – especially to use as a sleeper.
1 Ford F-150 Raptor
The Ford F-150 Raptor is probably the US’ favorite 6-cylinder vehicle ever made. The Raptor is currently in its second generation and the current one has been refreshed recently to provide better tech and features. The Raptor is powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6, producing 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque.
It is currently available second hand for around $40,000; however, some examples used can easily cost the same as a new one – sometimes even more. The Raptor is a fantastic 6-cylinder vehicle, as much at home in suburbia as it is navigating the dunes of Arizona or the snow of North Dakota.