2019 Wards 10 Best Engines Quick Hits

A pro-and-con summation of all 34 powertrains evaluated in the 2019 competition. Many comments come directly from editor scoresheets. (Winners in red.)

January 7, 2019

5 Min Read
Honda Clarity PHEV 77.6 mpg
Honda Clarity PHEV delivered staggering fuel economy during 10 Best Engines testing.


Electric propulsion system 33-kWh (BMW i3s EV)
+ Battery range of up to 153 miles and lots of fun to drive
– Range falls about 100 miles short of lesser-priced competitors
= Much improved since 2014 launch and 2017 upgrade

2.0L turbo (B48) I-4 302 hp (BMW X2)
+ 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds; BMW’s most powerful 2.0L
– Got lost in the mix this year, like many turbo-4 engines
= Great to see 101 hp/liter in 5-passenger lux CUV

3.0L (B58) turbo I-6 335 hp (BMW X5)
+ Significant upgrades over B58 tested last year in X3
– Efficiency suffers in vehicle this big 
= Reminds us of good times in M240i a few years ago

3.0L (S55) turbo I-6 410 hp (BMW M2 Competition)
+ Spools up fast, with nasty exhaust snarl but zero vibration
– Not an ideal daily driver
= A blast if you can handle 6,000 rpm all the time

Fiat Chrysler

2.0L turbo I-4 eTorque mild hybrid 270 hp (Jeep Wrangler)
+ Improves Wrangler on-road driving experience
– Sounds agricultural – Wrangler packaging likely to blame
= Technologically relevant but where’s the efficiency gain?

3.6L Atkinson V-6/PHEV 260 hp total (Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid)
+ Well integrated; every judge topped 33 mpg
– Certainly noticeable when electricity runs out
= No other minivan can achieve mileage like this

3.6L Pentastar eTorque V-6 mild hybrid 305 hp (Ram 1500)
+ Few 4WD fullsize pickups reach 22 mpg in real-world driving
– Is 48-volt system a long-term play or merely temporary stopgap?
= Great engine gets a jolt of electrification

5.7L Hemi V-8 eTorque mild hybrid 395 hp (Ram 1500)
+ Air-cooled motor generator delivers 130 lb.-ft. to crank at autostart
– Fuel-economy gain is meager
= Pushrod V-8 that never disappoints

6.2L Hemi supercharged V-8 717 hp (Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat)
+ Lightly improved, now fits under $64,000 price cap
– Profit center for gas-station owners
= Astonishing output but still lewd and crude


2.7L EcoBoost V-6 325 hp (Ford F-150)
+ Lots of fun in 335-hp Edge ST
– Overshadowed by Ford’s own diesel V-6
= Remains one of the industry’s smoothest stop/start systems

3.0L Power Stroke diesel V-6 250 hp (Ford F-150)
+ Don’t be fooled by meager hp – note 440 lb.-ft. of torque
– Hard to be optimistic about diesel’s future
= How often do you see 26 mpg in a fullsize pickup?

5.0L V-8 480 hp (Ford Mustang GT/Bullitt)
+ 19 mpg with a foot on its throat all day
– Sadly, an endangered species
= Electrification is taking hold, but this V-8 is irresistible

General Motors

Electric propulsion system 60-kWh (Chevrolet Bolt EV)
+ Great drivability, excellent NVH
– Lacks sport mode found in Hyundai Kona EV
= One-pedal driving has arrived

2.0L turbo I-4 237 hp (Cadillac XT4)
+ Active Fuel Management can shut down two cylinders
– GM has fielded much more powerful 2.0L turbos in past
= Competitive engine and great fit for compact CUV


2.7L turbo I-4 310 hp (Chevrolet Silverado -- see engine photo left)
+ Sophisticated dual-volute turbocharger
– Needs better than 19 mpg
= Remarkable to see 4-cyl. fullsize pickup

6.2L V-8 420 hp (Chevy Silverado)
+ Dynamic Fuel Management: 17 ways to boost mpg
– Observed fuel economy could be better
= An all-time favorite engine that keeps getting better


1.5L I-4 HEV 151 hp total (Honda Insight)
+ 52 mpg combined on sticker; available for $23k
– But we barely got close to that EPA rating
= Dedicated fuel sipper but not much polish

1.5L I-4 PHEV 212 hp total (Honda Clarity Plug-In)
+ 47 miles of all-electric range
– Feels sluggish compared to Insight, Chevy Volt
= Several of us topped a staggering 80 mpg

2.0L Atkinson I-4 212 hp total (Honda Accord Hybrid)
+ Third-generation 2-motor hybrid boosts cargo room
– So smooth, luxurious, should it be an Acura?
= Generously proportioned 47-mpg sedan for $26k

2.0L turbo I-4 306 hp (Honda Civic Type R)
+ Just as titillating as last year, with 28 mpg
– Niche powertrain that could use AWD
= If only this were 11 Best Engines


Fuel Cell/Permanent Magnet Motor 135 kW (Hyundai Nexo)
+ Innovative 3-tank system makes for 380-mile range
– If only hydrogen stations were on every corner…
= Three FCVs have made our list – two from Hyundai

Single Motor Electric Propulsion System 150 kW (Kona EV) 
+ Neck-snapping power and torque
– Fair amount of road and wind noise
= With 258 miles of range, this EV is worth buying

3.3L twin-turbo V-6 365 hp (Genesis G70/Kia Stinger)
+ An absolute rocket. Commence countdown, Major Tom
– This engine is less compelling in heavier Stinger
= Overall, less compelling than Hyundai’s alternative powertrains


2.0L turbo I-4 255 hp (Mercedes C300)
+ Nothing wrong with topping 25 mpg in luxury car
– Stop/start system needs more refinement
= Has slight performance edge over Cadillac 2.0L turbo-4


1.5L turbo I-4 152 hp (Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross)
+ Little engine has some giddy-up
– Middle-of-the-road fuel economy
= Long shot for success

2.0L I-4 117 hp PHEV (Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In)
+ Two-motor parallel hybrid with 22 miles of EV range
– Stop/start system fairly crude
= Outgunned by rivals



Single Motor Electric Propulsion System 110 kW (Nissan Leaf -- see photo left) 
+ Regenerative braking system works well
– 151 miles will not alleviate range anxiety
= Couldn’t stack up to Kona or Bolt

2.0L VC-turbo 4-cyl. 268 hp (Infiniti QX50)
+ Changes compression ratios on the fly. Say what?
– Watch the video and you still might not understand
= 26 mpg: proof that it works marvelously

2.5L I-4 188 hp (Nissan Altima)
+ Some of us topped 31 mpg
– CVT remains clunky, disruptive
= Decent engine but nothing spectacular

3.0L twin-turbo V-6 400 hp (Infiniti Q50)
+ Remains a formidable, stealthy butt-kicker
– Observed fuel economy comes up short
= Thanks for two good years on the list


2.4L turbo 4-cyl. boxer 260 hp (Subaru Ascent)
+ Three rows, 5 doors, 8 passengers – only 4 cylinders
– Engine isn’t sealing the deal
= Approaching 22 mpg in vehicle this size is admirable


2.0L I-4 168 hp (Toyota Corolla Hatchback)
+ 36 mpg with CVT pegged EPA combined rating
– Often sounds and feels taxed when pressed
= More than adequate entry-level engine

2.0L Atkinson I-4 HEV 181 hp (Lexus UX 250h Hybrid)
+ Surprisingly smooth gas-electric transitions
– Ground-breaking combustion technology
= Toyota snags sixth 10 Best Engines trophy for HEV

2.5L I-4 HEV 208 hp total (Toyota Camry Hybrid)
+ Surprisingly potent in sport mode
– Lags Honda Accord Hybrid in fun factor
= Last year’s winner one-upped by little brother

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2019 10 Best Engines
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