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Four-Cylinder Engines Are Smaller, Quieter and Gaining New Respect

AS automotive earth saviors go, electric cars and hybrids are widely presumed to be the chosen ones. But as carmakers and consumers seek real, affordable gains in miles per gallon, it will be the once-humble 4-cylinder combustion engine that takes them there — far more than electrics or hybrids, which are years away from selling in numbers that would rein in the nation’s greenhouse emissions and appetite for oil.