2014 Ward’s 10 Best Engines Quick Hits

A concise pro-and-con summation of all 44 engines in the 2014 competition.

January 8, 2014

5 Min Read
VW Beetle GSR averages 202 mpg during 10 Best Engines evaluations
VW Beetle GSR averages 20.2 mpg during 10 Best Engines evaluations.


3.0L TFSI supercharged V-6 333 hp (S5)

+ Smooth as 12-year-old Scotch

- Some argue engine about as old

= We got your back, Audi S5

3.0L turbodiesel V-6 240 hp (Audi A6 TDI)

+ Advanced compacted graphite iron block

- 2 mpg behind BMW diesel in our tests

= Hard keeping this one off list



2.0L N20 DI turbo I-4 245 hp (328i xDrive Sport Wagon)

+ Thanks for extra 5 hp

- Can’t match diesel efficiency

= Tough differentiating 2.0L turbos

2.0L N47 turbodiesel I-4 181 hp (328d)

+ 36.6 mpg staff average over 339 miles

- Numerous complaints about NVH

= Chevy Cruze much better value

3.0L N55 DI turbo I-6 302 hp (435i)

+ Excellent update to stop/start system

- We’re spoiled. Need more updates.

= Loses 18 hp, gains 4 mpg

3.0L N57 turbodiesel I-6 255 hp (535d)

+ Lightweight all-aluminum construction

- Legislators, keep your mitts off diesels

= Who needs a BMW hybrid?



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

+ Does much to quell range anxiety

- Still basically for two adults

= Hyper-milers reaching 120 miles per charge

2.4L Tigershark I-4 184 hp (Dodge Dart GT)

+ MultiAir tech very cool

- Why make us wait for this engine?

= We had high hopes

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

+ Available in pickup for just over $30,000

- Really, expected diesel take-rate of just 15%?

= Finally, diesel marries light pickup

3.2L Pentastar V-6 271 hp (Jeep Cherokee)

+ First 9-speed transmission

- Would like better fuel economy

= Quiet, enjoyable, good fit for Jeep

3.6L Pentastar V-6 300 hp (Dodge Charger SXT/Ram ProMaster)

+ ProMaster yet another great application

- Car thief stole Charger’s chances

= Thanks for good run, Pentastar



1.0L EcoBoost I-3 123 hp (Fiesta)

+ Unlike any 3-cyl. we’ve driven before

- NVH still needs some work

= Even math-challenged can figure 123 hp/L

1.6L EcoBoost I-4 197 hp (Fiesta ST)

+ Loves 4th gear at 4,500 rpm

- Sophomoric exhaust note

= Hey Einstein, this one makes 123 hp/L too!

2.0L EcoBoost I-4 252 hp (Focus ST)

+ Never at a loss for power

- Torque steer mildly annoying

= EcoBoost everywhere. When’s the IPO?

5.8L supercharged V-8 662 hp (Shelby GT500)

+ Mine is bigger than yours

- Really needs lane-keeping assistant

= Fun ’til Daddy takes GT500 away


General Motors

21-kWh battery-electric 140 hp (Chevrolet Spark EV)

+ Whopping 400 lb.-ft. of torque

- Doesn’t feel 3X thrustier than 500e

= Great package, good price

2.0L DI turbo I-4 272 hp (Cadillac CTS)

+ Cycles smoothly through gears

- $54k base price for 4-cyl. Cadillac  

= Better fit for ATS than CTS

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

+ Beats rated highway fuel economy 

- Hopes to eat Jetta TDI’s lunch

= GM’s smartest play in years

2.5L DI I-4 196 hp (Chevrolet Impala)

+ Gets upgraded intake valve lift for efficiency

- Engine more compelling last year in ATS

= 21/31 mpg impressive for Impala’s size

3.6L DI twin-turbo V-6 420 hp (Cadillac CTS Vsport)

+ Bold move against BMW turbo V-8

- Slid under $60k price cap by 5 bucks

= Overshadowed by other GM engines

4.3L LV3 OHV DI V-6 285 hp (Chevrolet Silverado)

+ Certainly better than old truck V-6

- Weak specific output

= Bigger siblings are better

5.3L L83 OHV DI V-8 355 hp (Chevrolet Silverado)

+ Can handle the volume…

- While 6.2L takes the glory

= Big brothers can be such a pain

6.2L L86 DI OHV V-8 420 hp (GMC Sierra Denali)

+ Runs in 4-cyl. mode an awful lot

- What, no 8-speed, GM?

= King of light-duty truck engines

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

+ Compact, efficient, cost-effective, smart

- Still pushrod detractors out there

= Muscle-car engine for the ages



2.0L I-4 HEV 196 hp total (Accord Hybrid)

+ 37 mpg nothing to sneeze at

- Weak at highway speeds

= On par with Fusion HEV; lags Chevy Volt

2.4L DI I-4 189 hp (Accord Sport)

+ Efficient, fun and loves to rev

- NVH disappointing for some

= Still benchmark among naturally aspirated I-4s

3.5L V-6 278 hp (Accord Touring)

+ Great value, plus 28 mpg

- Specific output underwhelming

= Honda V-6 wins for 8th time in 12 years

3.5L DI V-6 310 hp (Acura RLX)

+ Accord V-6 adds power, GDI

- But efficiency trails Accord badly

= Sure-footed, quiet, cylinder deactivation



2.0L DI I-4 173 hp (Elantra GT/Kia Forte)

+ Three editors topped 31 mpg

- Doesn’t feel all that torquey

= Great engine for high-volume applications

3.8L DI V-6 311 hp (Kia K900)

+ Pleasant, powerful new flagship

- Barely improved from last year’s Azera

= Stacks up well against other V-6s



2.5L DI Skyactiv I-4 184 hp (Mazda3)

+ Gotta love 13.0:1 compression ratio

- Geared for fuel economy

= Hope for future of naturally aspirated engines



2.0L DI turbo I-4 208 hp (CLA250)

+ New Mercedes carries $29,900 base price

- …But $43,570 sticker

= Outmatched by even non-luxury 2.0L turbos

2.0L DI turbo I-4 355 hp (CLA45 AMG)

+ Outrageous 178 hp/L on paper

- …But doesn’t feel like it

= Breakthrough styling not matched by powertrain

2.1L turbodiesel I-4 195 hp (E250/GLK250 Bluetec)

+ Great torque for big car

- MPG lags both BMW, Chevy Cruze diesels

= Hoping Mercedes can return to 10BE list



1.2L 3-cyl. 74 hp (Mirage)

+ Available with CVT

- Thrashy and slow with any gearbox

= Not a showcase for downsizing



2.5L supercharged HEV I-4 250 hp total (Pathfinder Hybrid)

+ Amazing how easily 4-cyl. moves 7-passenger CUV

- Struggled to reach 20 mpg

= Once again, good effort, Nissan

3.5L V-6 HEV 360 hp total (Infiniti Q50 Hybrid)

+ Carries over from M35h, plus updates

- M35h highway mileage rating was higher

= Nice to see our old friend, the VQ



2.7L DI H-6 boxer 275 hp (Cayman)

+ Feels like so much more than 213 lb.-ft.

- Must tear apart car to see engine

= But worthwhile, like unearthing lost artwork



2.0L FA DI/MPI H-4 200 hp (BRZ)

+ Absolutely thrilling to drive

- NVH challenges overwhelming this year

= Sorry Subaru, one and out

2.0L FA turbo DI/MPI H-4 250 hp (Forester)

+ Sport and Sport Sharp modes transformative

- CVT way too whiny

= Looking forward to driving this in WRX

2.0L H-4 HEV 160 hp total (XV Crosstrek Hybrid)

+ Not bad for a first hybrid

- Strains at times under modest acceleration

= 25 mpg well below stated fuel economy



1.8L I-4 140 hp (Corolla Eco-Plus)

+ Valvematic valve control boosts efficiency

- Not exactly a scintillating ride

= Toyota will sell a lot of these engines



1.8L EA888 turbocharged I-4 184 hp (Jetta)

+ Wonderfully refined, plenty powerful

- How capably will it move larger Passat?

= This turbo-4 stands taller than the rest

2.0L EA888 turbocharged I-4 210 hp (Beetle GSR)

+ Sport exhaust sounds like Beetle of old

- Can’t VW switch to aluminum block?

= More power, but takes backseat to 1.8L sibling

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2014 10 Best Engines
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