When talking about engines, the number of cylinders refers to the number of pistons inside the engine. The pistons move up and down within the cylinders inside the engine. When they move, they open and close air intake valves so that air combines with fuel. This air/fuel mixture combusts when ignited, either by a spark or as a result of high compression. This series of events powers the engine. The more cylinders there are, the quicker the combustion cycle. Therefore, a 4-cylinder engine is generally less powerful than a 6-cylinder engine.
In most 4-cylinder engines, the pistons are in a straight line, vertical configuration. However, the pistons in a 6-cylinder engine usually are slanted, with two banks of three cylinders forming a V shape. This shape is considered more compact and powerful. These "V6" engines also tend to be quieter than 4-cylinder engines. The pistons in 4-cylinder engines tend to be noisy, especially in larger engines.
However, 4-cylinder engines can still be strong, and in some cases they are more powerful than 6-cylinder engines. Modern 4-cylinder engines are designed to maximize their power. As a result, a 4-cylinder engine that incorporates technological advances is far more powerful than a 4-cylinder engine that was made decades ago.
You should weigh the differences of the two engine types before purchasing a new or used vehicle. For example, 4-cylinder engines tend to be more environmentally friendly. They usually emit less pollutants into the air and are more fuel efficient than 6-cylinder options. Because hybrid vehicles have not yet gained enough popularity to replace gasoline-only vehicles, 4-cylinder engines can be a good alternative for environmentally conscious people. These engines are cheaper than V6 engines, and you may be able to save a significant amount on the total cost of your vehicle by selecting a 4-cylinder engine.
However, some shoppers might not like the noisiness of some 4-cylinder engines, especially on hills or while carrying heavier loads. The towing capacity of a 6-cylinder engine can be much higher.