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2017 Wards 10 Best Engines Quick Hits Tom Murphy (Illustration with Cadillac ATS-V.R 3.6L racing engine)

2017 Wards 10 Best Engines Quick Hits

A pro-and-con summation of all 40 powertrains evaluated in the 2017 competition. Many comments come directly from editor score sheets.


2.0L turbo I-4 252 hp (Audi A4)

+ One of this year’s most engaging turbo-4s

- Boy, that turbo’s thirsty

= Glad to have Audi back in the competition



2.0L turbo I-4/PHEV 248 hp total (BMW 330e)

+ Smooth transitions between gas/electric

- A little weak in electric mode

= We like 38 mpg in a 3-Series


Aggressive driving in BMW 330i still yields 28 mpg.

+ Excellent NVH, zero turbo lag

- Purists gotta have six cylinders

= Wonderful Bavarian baritone


3.0L (B58) turbo I-6 335 hp (BMW M240i)

+ Need more space for plaudits

- Trails M2 output on paper

= Direct connection to your soul


3.0L (N55) turbo I-6 365 hp (BMW M2)

+ 0-60 in 4.1 seconds

- Fuel economy definitely suffers

= Breathes easy in triple digits


Fiat Chrysler

2.0L turbo I-4 280 hp (Alfa Romeo Giulia)

+ Eager to run, with 140 hp/L

- Ragged cold start and idle

= Trails Europe’s best turbo-4s


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

+ Still benchmark for diesel NVH

- VW did you no favors

= Three and out, but come on back


3.6L Atkinson V-6/PHEV 260 hp total (Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid)

+ Gas/electric transitions amazingly smooth

- Would like more EV range

= Great minivan, great hybrid



Ford Fusion Energi PHEV charges up.

PHEV 188 hp total (Ford Fusion Energi)

+ Several editors topped 50 mpg

- Sure could have used more info, Ford

= Outstandingly efficient midsize sedan


2.3L EcoBoost I-4 350 hp (Ford Focus RS)

+ Stared down Porsche, Subaru in 4-cyl. battle

- Exhaust note needs some tweaking

= So much more potent than Mustang application


3.0L twin-turbo V-6 400 hp (Lincoln MKZ/Continental)

+ What Lincoln needs: Loads of boost, loads of fun

- 18-21 mpg real world

= Potential winner if not for Infiniti 3.0L


3.5L EcoBoost V-6 375 hp (Ford F-150)

+ EcoBrute; 10-speed AT is cool

- Barely cracks 18 mpg real world

= Why exactly should we forego 5.0L V-8?


5.2L V-8 526 hp (Shelby GT350 Mustang)

+ Wild horses couldn’t drag us away

- But 350 RS ponies won us over

= We love what you do, Voodoo


General Motors

1.4L turbo I-4 153 hp (Chevrolet Cruze)

+ Fine example of Small Gas Engine family

- Lags Elantra Eco fuel economy

= Will make many Cruze owners happy


1.5L 4-cyl./EREV 101 hp total (Chevrolet Volt)

+ Squawked tires from a stoplight

- Plugging in didn’t get us rated 53 EV miles

= Silent as a submarine; rock star among plug-ins


1.6L turbo I-4 200 hp (Buick Cascada)

+ 27 mpg real-world is a selling point

- Middle-of-the-road turbo power

= Good enough, but not raising the bar


1.6L turbodiesel I-4 137 hp (Chevrolet Cruze)

+ Easily tops 40 mpg during testing

- Plug-ins and hybrids were more efficient

= Cards are stacking up against diesels, sadly


Cutaway of 3.6L V-6 in Cadillac ATS/Chevy Camaro.

+ Well suited for multiple vehicle applications

- Uphill sledding for naturally aspirated V-6s

= Will further eat into V-8 engine volumes



2.0L Atkinson I-4 212 hp total (Honda Accord Hybrid)

+ Really strong off the line, especially in power mode

- Sure would like to see plug-in version

= Great example of hybrid gains over years


3.5L SOHC V-6 280 hp (Honda Ridgeline)

+ VTEC cam barks around 5,000 rpm

- Lacks giddyup of Chevy Colorado V-6

= Great match for this pickup



88-kW EV (Hyundai Ioniq)

+ Absolute hoot to drive

- EVs less compelling than PHEVs

= Struck by Bolt of lightning


1.4L turbo I-4 128 hp (Hyundai Elantra Eco) 

+ Smooth and quiet; 7-speed DCT

- Chevy Cruze 1.4T undercuts the price

= Wise beyond its years


1.6L Atkinson I-4 139 hp total (Hyundai Ioniq HEV) 

+ Not an old-school 4-banger

- Pricing info would have been helpful

= Sights clearly set on Prius


2.0L Atkinson I-4/PHEV 202 hp total (Hyundai Sonata) 

+ Some of us topped 58 mpg

- Last year’s winner faced crowded field

= Better than Prius Prime, runs with Fusion PHEV


3.3L V-6 290 hp (Kia Cadenza)

+ Unique VVT boosts compression (12.0:1)

- Overall gains are merely incremental

= Comfortable for cruising


Jaguar Land Rover

Not too shabby: 34.2 mpg in Jaguar XE 2.0L turbodiesel.

+ Two editors topped 35 mpg

- NVH engineers have work to do

= Won’t win diesel converts in U.S.



2.5L turbo I-4 227 hp (Mazda CX-9)

+ Premium fuel gets you 250 hp

- Fuel economy could be better

= This year’s largest turbo-4 works in big CUV



2.0L turbo I-4 241 hp (Mercedes C300)

+ Snapped my neck back more than once

- On paper, it trails rivals

= On road, it trumps them


2.0L turbo I-4/PHEV 275 hp total (Mercedes C350e)

+ Some of us topped 30 mpg

- Engine too coarse, like a diesel

= Bavarian plug-in was much better



3.0L twin-turbo V-6 400 hp (Infiniti Q50S)

+ Don’t be fooled by its sedate demeanor

- Dangerously close to $62,000 price cap

= German lux engines have met their match


3.5L MPI V-6 300 hp (Nissan Maxima)

+ Naturally aspirated V-6s fighting for relevance

- Turbo-4s are eating VQ’s lunch

= Less special than last year


3.5L DI V-6 284 hp (Nissan Pathfinder)

+ Mirror-bore cylinder coating, 2-stage oil pump

- CVT drowns out throttle response

= VQ engine family has new patriarch


Nissan Titan 5.6L V-8 test drive.

+ Creamy power delivery with nice rumble

- Disappointing fuel economy

= DI commendable, but overall not exceptional



2.0L turbo H-4 300 hp (Porsche 718 Cayman)

+ Wicked good; sails under price cap

- Needs six cylinders, more low-end punch

= Just couldn’t sway the committee



2.0L H-4 205 hp (Subaru BRZ)

+ New valves, cam, head, intake/exhaust manifolds

- Rowing into tidal wave of forced induction

= Old-school, naturally aspirated good times


2.0L turbo H-4 268 hp (WRX)

+ Twin-scroll turbo = excellent throttle response

- New sheriff in town: Ford Focus RS

= One reason Subaru brand is kicking ass



1.8L Atkinson I-4/HEV 121 hp total (Toyota Prius)

+ 40% thermal efficiency remains impressive

- Annoyingly lazy in Eco mode

= NVH lags new HEV/PHEV entries


Outrageous fuel economy possible with constant charging in Toyota Prius Prime PHEV.

+ Up to 25 miles of EV range at 84 mph

- Too much electric motor whine

= Easily tops 60 mpg during our testing



2.0L T6 turbo/supercharged I-4 316 hp (Volvo S90)

+ Dual charging is like magic dust; 24.4 mpg observed

- Only one Volvo engine was making this year’s list

= Sadly overshadowed by Polestar


2.0L turbo/supercharged I-4 362 hp (Volvo V60 Polestar)

+ So this is what 184 hp/L feels like

- We’ll have to get back to you on that

= Keep surprising us, Volvo

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TAGS: Powertrain
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