For the first time in 11 years, three inline 6-cyl. engines appear on the Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems list, while four electrified powertrains make the cut for the third consecutive year as well.
This is the inaugural year of the renamed competition that since 1995 has been recognizing groundbreaking engineering as demonstrated in new powertrains available in reasonably affordable vehicles in the U.S. market.
This year’s class of winners powers two muscle coupes, three family sedans, two luxury cars, two pickups and an all-electric CUV.
The winners in alphabetical order by automaker:
- BMW 3.0L DOHC Turbocharged I-6 (BMW M340i)
- Daimler 3.0L DOHC 48V Turbo I-6 (Mercedes-Benz GLE450)
- FCA 3.6L DOHC 48V eTorque V-6 (Ram 1500)
- Ford 2.3L DOHC High Performance Turbo 4-Cyl. (Mustang)
- GM 3.0L DOHC Turbodiesel I-6 (GMC Sierra)
- GM 6.2L OHV V-8 (Chevrolet Corvette Stingray)
- Honda 2.0L DOHC Atkinson i-VTEC 4-Cyl./HEV (Accord Hybrid)
- Hyundai 150-kW Propulsion System (Kona EV)
- Hyundai 1.6L DOHC Turbocharged 4-Cyl. (Sonata)
- Nissan 2.0L DOHC VC-Turbo 4-Cyl. (Altima)
“The auto industry is making tremendous strides by continuing to develop innovative internal-combustion engines while simultaneously investing in hybrids, battery-electrics, 48V mild hybrids and hydrogen-powered fuel cells,” says Wards Senior Content Director Drew Winter.
This year’s list of winners reflects an industry that is trying to do it all with heart-pounding fire breathers, capable pickups that don’t need V-8s, family cars that don’t need V-6s and a battery-electric CUV that is fun to drive.
“We’ve had years with several luxury brands making the list, but this year there were only two: BMW and Mercedes-Benz,” Winter says. “It’s important that our winning picks remain within reach for American consumers and represent a wide range of internal-combustion and electrified propulsion sources.”
Wards editors chose the winners after evaluating 26 all-new or significantly improved engines and electric propulsion systems during everyday driving in metro Detroit in October and November.
The field of nominees includes last year’s 10 honorees. This year’s repeat winners are the BMW 3.0L turbo I-6, FCA Ram Pentastar eTorque, Honda 4-cyl. hybrid, Hyundai battery-electric and Nissan VC-Turbo 4-cyl. To be eligible this year, vehicles must have a base price no higher than $65,000.
Editors score each powertrain based on horsepower, torque, comparative specs, NVH management, observed fuel economy and the application of new technology.
The winning automakers will be honored Jan. 16 at a luncheon during the WardsAuto Engine & Propulsion Summit in Detroit.
Please visit WardsAuto.com for additional commentaries, profiles of the winning engines, videos and more information about the 2020 Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems.