Worried the movement to make cars and trucks more fuel-efficient and less harmful to the environment will take all the joy out of driving? Relax.
Some number-crunching of this year’s Ward’s 10 Best Engines winners reveals that despite pressures to meet increasingly stringent fuel-economy and emissions bogeys, both measurements are on the rise. And further adding to the fun, vehicle curb weights are coming down, meaning drivers get to feel the positive impact of higher horsepower and torque outputs even more so.
A comparison of the 2015 10 Best Engines list with 2010’s winners reveals a relatively steep upward curve in output ratings over the past five years – even though fuel-stingy 3-cyl. engines, a battery-electric and a fuel-cell model are among the winners.
Thanks in part to the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat’s 707-hp rating and the 460-hp Chevrolet Corvette, the average output of the 10 winners checks in at 272 hp, up 28 hp, or 11.5%, from the 244-hp average in 2010. That year, the two most-powerful vehicles were the 385-hp Hyundai Genesis and 365-hp Ford Taurus SHO.
It’s a similar story on torque. This year’s winners crank out an average 298 lb.-ft. (404 Nm), up 38 lb.-ft. (52 Nm), or 14.6%, from the 260 lb.-ft. (353 Nm) rating for the 2010 10 Best. Here too, the Challenger and Corvette top the charts at 650 lb.-ft. (881 Nm) and 465 lb.-ft. (630 Nm), respectively. In 2010, the highest-torque gasoline engine was the Taurus SHO at 350 lb.-ft. (476 Nm).
Maybe more startling is that our 36 nominees averaged 245 hp and 270 lb.-ft. (366 Nm) of torque, besting the 2010 winners in both categories.
More impressive is all that power is crammed into lighter packages. A comparison between the two lists shows our winners have shed more than 100 lbs. (45.4 kg) on average. That means the 2015 10 Best must move only 12.9 lbs. (5.9 kg) per horsepower and 11.8 lbs. (5.4 kg) per pound-foot of torque, compared with 14.9 lbs. (6.8 kg) and 14.0 lbs. (6.4 kg), respectively, for the 2010 winners.
The industry’s lightweighting trend comes into even sharper focus with a look at the numbers behind the nominees list. The 2015 contenders tip the scales at an average 3,433 lbs. (1,557 kg), some 200 lbs. (91 kg) less than the 2010 winners.
No surprise is that this year’s winners outperformed the overall nominees list in both power ratings, with 10 Best horsepower averaging 11.0% higher than the field and torque ratings 10.4% higher.
However, not so expected is that when it comes to torque-to-weight, the entire nominees list outperforms the winners on average, meaning Ward’s judges aren’t greedy and you don’t necessarily have to drive a 10 Best Engines winner to have a lot of fun.