TOM: In general, you'll pay more not only to buy a six-cylinder engine, but also to repair and maintain it over the life of the car.
RAY: We just test-drove the brand-new Ford Escape. It's a small SUV that used to come with four- and six-cylinder engine options. Interestingly, it has three different engine options now, but they're ALL four-cylinder engines. We drove the middle one; a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four, which is tiny by SUV standards. But we were surprised to find that it had as much power as anyone might need in normal driving.
TOM: So I wouldn't necessarily recommend a six-cylinder for you, Mary. What I would recommend is that you avoid something whose reviews use the word "underpowered" a lot (unless those reviews are in enthusiast magazines like Car and Driver, which consider everything underpowered).
RAY: Once you narrow down your car choices, feel free to write back to us, and we'll give you any specific thoughts we have on those particular car-engine combinations. But don't be afraid of modern four-cylinder engines as a class. There are more of them than ever that provide plenty of power.
Tom and Ray share secrets on how you can save tens of thousands of dollars on your cars over the next 20 years in their pamphlet "Should I Buy, Lease, or Steal My Next Car?" Send $4.75 (check or money order) to Next Car, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.
Get more Click and Clack in their new book, "Ask Click and Clack: Answers from Car Talk." Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or email them by visiting the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.
(c) 2013 by Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.