Mercedes C400 with 329hp 30L biturbo V6 coaches efficient driving

Mercedes C400, with 329-hp 3.0L bi-turbo V-6, coaches efficient driving.

2015 Ward’s 10 Best Engines Quick Hits

A concise pro-and-con summation of all 37 powertrains evaluated in the 2015 competition. Many of these comments came directly from editor score sheets.

Audi

2.0L DI turbo I-4 292 hp (S3 quattro)

+ Rip-roaring fun

- Awfully fussy 6-speed S-tronic trans

= 21 mpg uninspiring

 

3.0L DI supercharged V-6 333 hp (S5 quattro)

+ Hard to improve on perfection

- But give it a try, Audi

= It hurts to say goodbye

 

BMW

22-kWh battery-electric 170 hp (i3/EREV)

+ So much fun to drive

- Tow companies won’t like EREV

= The future is here

 

1.5L DI turbo I-3 134 hp (Mini Cooper)

+ Punchy exhaust note from only 3 pistons

- Specific output only 89 hp/L

= Gutsy, thrilling, fuel-efficient

 

2.0L DI turbo I-4 189 hp (Mini Cooper S)

+ Engaging, enjoyable 6-speed manual gearbox

- Paltry output relative to other 2.0L turbos

= Another big step for Mini brand

 

3.0L turbodiesel I-6 255 hp (X5 xDrive35d)

+ 24 mpg in big 3-row CUV

- Diesel-fuel price uncertainty

= Far and away best engine for X5

 

Fiat Chrysler

24-kWh battery-electric 111 hp (Fiat 500e EV)

+ Attractive base price of $31,800

- Other EVs actually have a backseat

= Cool last year, less practical now

 

1.7L DI turbo I-4 (Alfa Romeo 4C)

+ Loving 135 hp per liter

- Less fond of ringing ears a day later

= Feels like a Best Engine for 10 minutes

 

3.0L turbodiesel V-6 240 hp (Ram 1500 Crew Cab)

+ Lux-ute NVH and oodles of torque

- Steep premium over gasoline V-6

= Thank you, VM Motori

 

6.2L supercharged OHV V-8 707 hp (Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat)

+ Red key/black key, does it matter?

- Purchase price excludes clean undergarments

= Satan wants a test-drive

 

Ford

1.0L EcoBoost I-3 123 hp (Fiesta)

+ Most editors topped 36 mpg

- Does it fit elsewhere in U.S. lineup?

= Much less expensive than hybrid

 

1.5L EcoBoost I-4 181 hp (Fusion)

+ Smooth, good off the line

- Needs seventh or eighth gear

= Tough for this one to stand out

 

2.3L EcoBoost I-4 310 hp Ford Mustang

+ Ford learns much about twin-scroll turbos

- Where’s the Mustang rumble and grunt?

= Good fit for Lincoln MKC, not pony car 

 

2.7L EcoBoost V-6 325 hp (F-150)

+ Advanced CGI/aluminum block

- Weight reduction should improve mpg

= We tried so hard to love it

 

3.2L turbodiesel I-5 185 hp (Transit van)

+ 350 lb.-ft. of workaday torque

- Smaller Ram diesel makes 420

= Ultimate Rock Band Van

 

General Motors

2.0L turbodiesel I-4 151 hp (Chevrolet Cruze)

+ Still ideal for long commutes 

- Trailed VW Golf TDI mileage badly

= Cheap gasoline is no friend

 

6.2L LT1 DI OHV V-8 460 hp (Chevrolet Corvette Stingray)

+ Don’t knock the small-block

- Beware the price creep

= Puts the push in pushrod

 

Honda

2.4L DI I-4 206 hp (Acura TLX)

+ Adored this engine in Accord

- Too much vibration in steering wheel

= Just buy Accord and be done with it

 

3.5L V-6 278 hp (Accord Touring)

+ Flies flag for naturally aspirated V-6s

- No one following the flag bearer

= Come on, Honda, keep the V-6 alive

 

3.5L DI V-6 3-motor HEV 377 hp (Acura RLX Hybrid)

+ We saw a respectable 27 mpg

- Cuts too close to $60k price cap

= Infiniti M35h got better mileage

 

Hyundai

27-kWh battery-electric 109 hp (Kia Soul EV)  

+ Out-torques other EVs with 210 lb.-ft.

- Also among heaviest EVs

= Green Queen scores it perfect 100

 

100-kW fuel cell (Hyundai Tucson FCV)

+ Great range, quick refueling

- Infrastructure a work in progress

= Hyundai earns zero-emissions props

 

1.6L DI turbo I-4 178 hp (Sonata Eco) 

+ Quietly cruises at 80 mph

- Suffers from severe turbo lag

= Efficient, economical transportation

 

2.0L DI turbo I-4 245 hp (Sonata Sport) 

+ Goodly amount of power at low rpm

- Who put baseball card in the spokes?

= Other turbo-4s deliver superior NVH

 

2.4L DI I-4 185 hp (Sonata)

+ Capable of 26 mpg

- Middling power, disappointing NVH

= Hyundai powertrain’s red-headed stepchild

 

5.0L DI V-8 420 hp (Genesis sedan)

+ Gentleman among barbarians

- The barbarians won

= No room at the V-8 inn

 

Mercedes-Benz

3.0L DI bi-turbo V-6 329 hp (C-Class)

+ Effortlessly cycles through seven gears

- Lackluster fuel economy

= A tough year for V-6s

 

Subaru

2.0L DI turbo H-4 268 hp (WRX)

+ A fighter by his trade

- My story’s seldom told

= In the clearing stands a boxer

 

Toyota

2.0L DI turbo I-4 235 hp (Lexus NX 200T)

+ Twin-scroll turbo, decent fuel economy

- Feels awfully generic

= Lexus customers will be pleased

 

2.5L Atkinson I-4 2-motor HEV 194 hp (Lexus NX 300h)

+ Third electric motor comes with AWD

- Time for a clean-sheet Atkinson 2.5L

= Good luck selling with $2 gasoline

 

Volkswagen

24.2-kWh battery-electric 115 hp (e-Golf)

+ Golf-cart quiet, with Golf DNA

- Slight drone at low speeds

= Will EVs ever have distinguishing character?

 

1.8L DI turbo I-4 170 hp (Golf TSI)

+ Gotta love the price, and more

- Fought bigger brothers for spot on list

= …But came out on top

 

2.0L turbo I-4 220 hp (GTI Autobahn)

+ Performance package worth 10 more ponies

- Boy, the competition was tough

= EA888 improves in all the right areas

 

2.0L turbodiesel I-4 150 hp (Golf TDI)

+ Beats Cruze diesel in mileage, NVH

- Requires SCR; torque rating unchanged

= So close to winner’s circle

 

Volvo

2.0L T5 turbo I-4 240 hp (S60)

+ Power to spare, and we saw 32 mpg

- Hint of torque steer

= Sweden’s newest supermodel

 

2.0L T6 turbo/supercharged I-4 302 hp (S60)

+ Yep, that’s 151 hp per liter

- Lags T5 2.0L in observed mpg

= Sorry, we had to pick just one

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