On Monday, Wards Automotive released the latest edition of its annual list of best engines in the world. This is the 23rd time the publication has conducted the competition to find the best engine in the world. Eight of the 10 are new to the list for 2017, with two being holdovers from last year.
For 2017, the 10 winners offer a glimpse at the changing trends of modern automotive powertrains. There are four- and six-cylinder engines, along with several types of hybrid drive systems. Six of the 10 engines are turbocharged while another one is both turbocharged and supercharged. First the first time in the history of the competition, no eight-cylinder engines made the list.
“Automakers see downsizing, turbocharging, and electrification as key strategies for delivering no-compromise powertrains that also are fuel efficient, and this year’s list clearly affirms that strategy,” WardsAuto Senior Content Director Drew Winter said in the publication’s post announcing the winners.
A total of 40 candidates were evaluated by the publication’s editors in real-life, on-road driving conditions in October and November. Wards scored each engine based on horsepower, torque, comparative specs, noise attenuation, fuel economy, and application of new technology.
According to Wards, only new or significantly reengineered engines or electric propulsion systems that are available for sale in the US and are installed in cars having a base price of less than $62,000 are eligible for the top 10. In addition, the winners from the previous year are also eligible to defend their crowns. Last year, Wards banned VW Group products from consideration, as a result of the company’s emissions scandal. This year, VW Group engines returned to the competition with the 2.0 litre powerplant from the Audi A4 and the new four-cylinder from Porsche’s 718 sports car.
Here are Wards 10 best engines in alphabetical order:
1. The BMW M240i one is of the most exciting sport coupes to emerge from Bavaria in recent memory. At the heart of this beast is a 335 horsepower, 3.0 litre, turbocharged, inline-6 cylinder engine.
The judges at Wards found the BMW B58 engine to be 'slippery fast and incredibly smooth, while consuming less fuel than some' smaller four-cylinder engines. It is one of just two winning engines to retain its spot from last year's list.
2. The second returning winner is the Chevrolet Volt's 1.5 litre inline-4 cylinder engine and hybrid drive system.
The judges were impressed by the hybrid system's electric range and stellar fuel economy calling it 'one of the most innovative and disruptive propulsion systems ever produced'.
3. Next up is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. While we've seen hybrids take all kinds of shapes over the past decade, this is the first time it's hit the market as a minivan. Under the hood is a 3.6 litre, Atkinson-cycle V6 engine paired with a couple of electric motors.
'Pacifica Hybrid dazzles us by providing a seamless and efficient driving experience without sacrificing abundant interior space and comfortable ride and handling,' Wards wrote in its report.
4. Ford's new high-performance Focus RS has met with great critical acclaim since hitting showrooms earlier this year. Playing a major role is Ford's 2.3 litre, 350 horsepower, turbocharged four-banger that brings prodigious power to the compact Focus hatchback.
'Of the 40 powertrains tested this year, including many geared for high performance and sporting high-end badging, none was more exhilarating to drive than the Focus RS,' Wards wrote.
5. The Honda Accord Hybrid has, for many years, lived in the shadow of its more acclaimed rivals from Toyota. This year, however, the judges at Wards gushed over the Accord Hybrid's gutsy 212 horsepower drive system and its frugal 47 mpg fuel economy.
The Accord Hybrid's, 'standout powertrain is unconventional in its ability to fool many drivers into thinking they're not piloting a gas-electric hybrid,' Wards wrote. 'Among hybrids, this may be the best balance yet of performance and fuel economy.'
6. As the automotive industry seeks greater fuel economy through hybridisation, the Hyundai Elantra Eco manages to achieve frugality without it. Instead, the Elantra Eco gets a capable 128 horsepower, 1.4 litre, turbocharged four-cylinder.
In its testing, Wards observed a hybrid-esque 40 mpg of fuel economy. 'Quiet, exceedingly capable, affordable and fuel efficient -- Hyundai's new pint-sized powerplant checks all our boxes,' Wards wrote.
7. While Nissan's venerable VQ V6 engine failed to make the list for a 16th time, one of its descendants did. Found under the hood of Infiniti's new Q50 Red Sport 400 is a 400 horsepower, twin-turbocharged VR-Series V6 engine.
'(It's) silky smooth, quiet when you want it to be and capable of delivering respectable fuel economy topping 23 mpg,' Wards wrote. 'But step on the gas and be prepared for a wallop that slams you into the seat-back.'
8. The new CX-9 brings Mazda's 'ZoomZoom' personality to the 7-seat crossover crowd. The 2.5 litre, 250 horsepower, inline-four cylinder represents the first time turbocharging technology has been applied to Mazda's fuel-sipping SkyActiv engine.
'Putting a 4-cyl. engine into a 7-passenger CUV doesn't usually send a thrill up the leg of automotive journalists, but Mazda worked some real magic with the new SkyActiv 2.5L,' Wards wrote.
9. As the whole automotive industry downsized its engines, so has Mercedes-Benz. At the heart of the brand's new lineup of cars is an updated M274 2.0 litre, 241 horsepower, turbocharged, inline-four-cylinder engine. It can be found on several models including the C-Class and E-Class sedans along with the GLC SUV.
The judges praised the engine for its strong power delivery and solid 26 mpg fuel economy in the C-Class.
10. In its history, Volvo has not been a brand traditionally known for extreme powertrains. But that's not the case anymore. Under the hood of its new V60 Polestar wagon is a new turbocharged and supercharged variant of Volvo's Drive-E engine.
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