- We drove dozens of cars and experienced numerous engines in 2017 – these are our favourites.
- Powerplants range from turbocharged four-cylinders to hybrids to big V8s.
- Customers can opt for fuel-efficient, performance, or a combination of each.
We can all agree that a big part of falling in love with a car is how it looks on the outside.
But ultimately, it’s what’s under the hood that really fires the emotions. An engine is a car’s heart, and a great one is what separates a thrilling machine from the pack.
At Business Insider, we drove over 70 cars in 2017 and experienced everything from tiny fuel-sipping hybrids that didn’t threaten 200 horsepower to massive V8s that could surmount 700 hp. There was even a 1,500 horsepower, quad-turbo, W16. Yes, that’s 16 as in a V8 plus a V8.
But some engines really stuck in our minds. Engines that were exceptional in more than just delivering propulsion for the car – engines that were actually significant, due to their reliability, power, innovation, or history.
Here are the 10 best engines we enjoyed in 2017 (in no particular order):
1. The Nissan VQ series V6 is one of the most versatile engines in the world. The bulletproof powerplant can be found in everything from the Frontier pickup truck to the 370Z sports car and everything in between.
The long-serving engine is known for its reliability and strong power output.
2. The General Motors LT4 Supercharged V8 is the monster that lives beneath the hood of the Corvette Z06 …
… where it produces 650 horsepower. A new, up-tuned version of the engine will power the new Corvette ZR1 and crank out an astonishing 755 horsepower.
3. The McLaren M840T twin-turbocharged V8 is an engineering marvel. McLaren managed to squeeze 710 horsepower from the compact four-litre engine. Word on the street is the M840T can be tuned to reliably produce as much as 850 ponies.
4. In 2017, we experienced the full glory of this engine in the 720S. The McLaren V8 might be the finest compact, high-performance motor ever made.
5. An engine list these days simply isn’t complete without the Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive.
Here’s the motor on Matt DeBord’s beloved 2011 Prius.
We enjoyed it in the newest version of the Prius. We’ve also sampled iterations of it in the Lexus CT200h and the LC500h. Although not the most thrilling powerplant around, there few drive systems better at saving fuel than Toyota’s HSD.
6. Ford’s 5.2-litre “Voodoo” V8 is one of the impressive V8 engines ever produced. The free-revving, flat-plane-crank V8 is also one of the best sounding engines in recent memory.
Matt DeBord got a load of the Voodoo doing what the Voodoo does do so well in the Shelby Mustang GT350 — on a race track in Utah. This thing can hit 100 mph in third gear.
7. When you hear the words Ford EcoBoost, pickup trucks and family sedans comes to mind. In 2016, EcoBoost was called up to the big leagues to power the Ford GT supercar.
In the Ford GT, this brilliant, mid-mounted 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine makes an impressive 647 horsepower.
This is the engine that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Ford in 2016.
8. No one does small four-cylinder engines better than Honda. These days, its the company’s 1.5-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder that carries on Honda’s legacy.
Honda’s gutsy four combines fuel-economy and pep in high-volume vehicles ranging from the bestselling CR-V crossover SUV to …
… the high-performance Civic SI.
9. Some people call it a flat six while others say horizontally opposed six. Porsche prefers to call to call it a “boxer” six. We simply call it brilliant. The Porsche “boxer” six-cylinder is the beating heart of the company’s iconic 911 sports car.
These days the boxer six has been fitted with a pair of turbochargers that’s pushed the horsepower of the base car up to 370 ponies. The powerful, free-revving powerplant is an absolute joy to experience.
10. A few years ago, Volvo announced an ambitious plan to create a single engine capable of powering its entire lineup. The result is the 2.0 litre, Drive-E four-cylinder engine.
Volvo’s unusual Drive-E uses every trick in the engineering book: turbocharging, supercharger, and even a hybrid-electric option — all to provide luxury-class power for a humble basic four-cylinder layout. It powers everything from the new XC60 SUV to …
… Volvo’s flagship S90 sedan.
11. Even as its rivals downsized to turbocharged six-cylinder engines, Toyota/Lexus went old school with a naturally aspirated, 5.-litre V8 to power its high-performance offerings.
The beefy V8 can be found in the company’s charismatic Lexus GS-F sedan and stunning LC500 coupe. Although it doesn’t deliver power with the punch of a turbocharged engine, the naturally aspirated V8 is velvety smooth and emits one of the best soundtracks around.
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