They won’t be the fastest or most powerful, but a 4-cylinder engine can keep on running for a long while. Here’s the longest lasting 4-cylinder cars.
4-cylinder engines aren’t known for making much horsepower or generating that much torque. They are known for being pretty fuel efficient, but we’re not talking about fuel efficiency today. Instead, we’ll be focusing on the longevity some of these 4-cylinder engines have endured. I’m sure you’ve read one of the fun stories featuring a car still driving around with an engine carrying hundreds of thousands of miles on the odometer. Often times you’ll find the powerhouse of these long-lasting cars is a basic 4-cylinder engine that’s been regularly serviced over the years.
We figured we should take a look at some of the longest lasting 4-cylinder cars you can find on the lot today. Then you can get your own little 4-cylinder engine car from this list and ride off into the sunset. Then drive it back again. You can probably repeat that for a while with one of these.
Starting off the list is the Ford Escape, but we’re not raving about the newer EcoBoost ones. Instead, it is the Ford Escape Hybrids from the first and second generation. These models range from 2005 to 2012 and are carrying either a 2.3L or 2.5L I4 engine that is paired with an electric motor. It’s long lasting 4-cylinder engine history is all thanks to the New York taxi crowd. New York taxi drivers have been known to put 70,000 miles on their car annually. One would think that the Escape Hybrid would be decommissioned after about 2 years at that rate, but Ford made the car pretty good and drivers experienced well over 300,000 miles with some noting odometers reaching the 600,000 mark!
Honda is just one of those brands that carries a history of longevity. One of the Honda models that has shown time and time again that it can go the distance is the Honda Accord. This 4-cylinder engine sedan has proven it can go well past 200,000 miles no matter what the year. There have even been multiple instances of Honda Accord owners breaking the 1,000,000-mile mark! One recent record holder was Dexter Mills from North Carolina who hit 1,000,000 miles in his 2000 Honda Accord. That record did have an engine swap around 600,000, but Joe LoCicero from Maine who hit 1,000,000 miles in his 1990 Honda Accord rode the same 4-cylinder engine to the end.
The Accord isn’t the only Honda making an appearance as one of the longest lasting 4-cylinder cars. The Honda Civic also gets the honor of continuing to push forward past 200,000 miles that others can’t. You can find plenty of high mileage Civics driving around today and there are plenty of well-maintained examples sitting on lots right now. Plus, the Civic also hit the 1,000,000-mile club like its brother. There’s a traveling doctor out there with a 2006 Honda Civic that’s odometer is stopped at 999,999. That’s not just some sick joke where he quit driving it, the guy is supposedly still travelling around the country in it. There’s just not another number spot on the digital display for the million mark.
Mazda isn’t really credited with being a longevity brand as they’re more focused on performance and luxury, but the Miata makes a case. There have been plenty of owners reporting pushing their Mazda MX-5 Miatas past the 300,000-mile mark. There’s also a recorded instance of Yuichi Tsuyuki’s 1993 Miata going over 600,000 miles. While the Miata may not be hitting the million-mile club like some others on the list, it is quite the feat for a basic 4-cylinder engine sports car.
We don’t have Saab around anymore, but their cars are still driving on the roads today. One of the better examples of their longevity is the Saab 900 with its 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. This model is still being driven with over 500,000 miles on some odometers as well as having one owner make it to the million-mile club. Peter Gilbert of Wisconsin pushed his 1989 Saab 900 SPG to 1,000,000 miles back in 2006. His record encouraged Saab to push other owners of their cars to hit the million-mile mark for a free car incentive. Sadly, anyone who hits that now won’t be receiving anything from the defunct company, but at least they got their money’s worth.
Subaru has had a history of their vehicles going past 200,000 miles frequently, with some owners creating clubs at the various hundred thousand-mile increments. One of their main longevity contenders is the Subaru Legacy. The Legacy has been documented as one of the few vehicles that continuously lives well past 300,000 miles on the same Boxer 4-cylinder engine. Subaru’s EJ20 series of Boxer 4-cylinder engines aren’t just found in the Legacy though, you can find the same series long-lasting engine in the Forester and Impreza too.
Toyota, like Honda, has been known as a brand that’s cars can just keep going for as long as you let them. One of the most widespread high mileage vehicles that owners swear by is the Toyota Camry. Whether it’s from the 90s, 00s, or 10’s, the Camry is capable of hitting that 300,000-mile mark with some owners continuing to push on for thousands of miles further. There haven’t been any well documented instances of the Camry joining the million-mile club, but the large number of Camrys that have all hit hundreds of thousands of miles is staggering.
The Toyota Corolla is the smaller brother to the Camry and it has a similar notable history of going the distance. The Corolla’s 4-cylinder engine has been applauded by Toyota fans as it too has kept owners on the road well past the 300,000-mile mark. There is also a 1991 Toyota Corolla that is inching ever closer to a million miles at a Florida based dealership, but they’re hoping they can push the little sedan for a million more once they get there.
4-cylinder engines aren’t typically found in trucks today, but the small I4 fits in well with the Toyota Tacoma. The Tacoma has always carried a 4-cylinder engine even back in its Hilux predecessor. You can commonly find Tacomas running well into the 300,000s and 400,000s for miles. There is also an instance of a Mike Neals 2009 Toyota Tacoma that went well past the million-mark and kept on driving. He did have to swap out the 4-cylinder engine after 880,000 miles, but that’s still an inspiring number of miles for a little truck. Hopefully the Tacoma will see it’s true million-mile club member soon like its brother the Toyota Tundra recently did.
Volvo currently holds the high mileage record with Irv Gordon’s 1966 Volvo 1800 S that is still driving with over 3,000,000 miles on the odometer. That is ridiculous and quite the testament to what these 4-cylinder engines can endure. But we’re not suggesting picking up a vintage Volvo 1800 and running that into the ground. Instead, take a look at the slightly newer Volvo 240s with their 4-cylinder engines that are consistently going well into the hundreds of thousands. There has even been a million-mile 1987 Volvo 240 driven by Selden Cooper of Maryland.