Ward’s Automotive releases an annual list of the world’s 10 best engines — and last year’s was the most diverse selection of powerplants in the 21-year history of the award. Six use turbocharging tech to boost horsepower, while one uses supercharging to create ridiculous amounts of power.
There’s one naturally aspirated internal combustion engine, one fuel cell, and one electric motor on this list. Of the 10 best engines, four are holdovers from last year’s list and six make their debut.
According to Ward’s, only new or significantly re-engineered engines or propulsion systems that are available for sale in the US and are installed in cars having a base price of less than $60,000 are eligible for the top 10.
Of 37 entries — 10 returning winners from 2013 and 27 new contenders — were evaluated by Ward’s team of editors. All of the cars were put through their paces under normal daily commutes by the editors over the past two months in Detroit. Ward’s editors scored each engine based on power, torque, technology, fuel economy, and relative competitiveness, while taking noise, vibrations, and refinement into account.
Ward’s new list will be out next month. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s on it. Until then, check out this lineup.
The Subaru WRX is a legend in world rally racing. One of the big reasons for WRX's success is the company's signature 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine.
Volkswagen's owes its recent sales resurgence to the Golf. Although the car may be new, its 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is a holdover from last year's top 10 list.
The third and final turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is Volvo S60 T5's Drive-E; it will serve as the basis for all of the company's powerplants for years to come. The 2.0 litre 240-horsepower version featured on the list is lauded for its abundant power and effortless acceleration.
Having spent time behind the wheel of a Drive-E-equipped S60, I can attest to its smooth, potent power delivery. Although not as fuel efficient as the T5's engine, the S60 T6's turbo and supercharged 302-horsepower Drive-E do a fair impersonation of a V6 or a small V8 engine.
As great as small four-bangers are, there's no substitute for a real V8. One that made the list again is the Corvette's potent LT1 small-block V8.
Ward's editors drove an 8-speed automatic-transmission-equipped Vette for 300 miles and managed a respectable 20 mpg.
With 707 horsepower, the Hellcat instantly made the Challenger the most powerful muscle in the world while the Charger became the most powerful and fastest sedan on the market.
Mated to a five-speed manual transmission, the gutsy engine provides a ton of user-friendly horsepower while exhibiting little to no turbo lag. One Ward's editor managed to average 38.9 miles per gallon. Very impressive.
Another 3-cylinder engine on the list is BMW's twinpower turbo engine that's used to power the Mini Cooper.
Like the Ford EcoBoost motor, Ward's editors praised the Mini's three-cylinder engine for its peppy performance and miserly fuel usage.
Another fun tidbit about the twin-power turbo engine: a 228-horsepower version can be found powering BMW's new i8 sports car.
Another piece of alternative fuel technology to make the list is Hyundai's 100 Kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell. The Hyundai fuel cells power the cars by converting hydrogen into electricity.
The fuel cell is offered on the Hyundai Tucson FCV SUV, which Ward's editors praised for being powerful, quiet, and user-friendly.
The final engine on the list is also the only diesel to make the cut -- RAM's 3.0 turbodiesel V-6. The potent truck engine is the only one of the three diesels from last year's list to make it in this year's top 10.
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