Ward’s 10 Best Engines Quick Hits

A concise pro-and-con review of every engine evaluated as part of the 2011 competition.

Ward's Staff

December 16, 2010

4 Min Read
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Audi AG

2.0L TFSI I-4 turbo 211 hp (A4 Avant)

+ Benchmark NVH

- Output starting to lag

= Time for upgrades

3.0L TFSI supercharged V-6 333 hp (S4)

+ Stunning power, efficiency

- Needs macho exhaust note

= Nirvana in a smaller package


1.6L I-4 turbo 181 hp (Mini Cooper S)

+ Valvetronic intake; 113 hp/L

- Torque steer severe

= Prince Charming

3.0L I-6 turbodiesel 265 hp (335d)

+ 36-mpg highway rating

- Cost premium

= 4 cylinders should suffice

3.0L I-6 N55 turbo 300 hp (335i)

+ 300 lb.-ft., too

- Um, thinking …

= Always bowls perfect game

3.0L I-6 N54 twin-turbo 320 hp (335is)

+ Poor man’s M3

- Fuel economy unimpressive

= No longer perfect

Chrysler Group LLC

3.6L Pentastar V-6 283 hp (Dodge Avenger)

+ Massive cost benefits

- Other V-6s more powerful

= Chrysler powertrain rebirth

Ford Motor Co.

1.6L I-4 120 hp (Fiesta)

+ Sophisticated cam timing

- Eagerly awaiting turbo

= Great affordable 4-cyl.

2.5L I-4 HEV 191 hp (Fusion Hybrid)

+ Excellent technology

- Hybrids are so 2010

= Remains solid performer

3.5L EcoBoost V-6 365 hp (Taurus SHO)

+ Causes V-8 torque envy

- Lacks powerful persona

= Awaiting F-150 application

3.7L Duratec V-6 305 hp (Mustang)

+ First 300-hp/30-mpg car

- Our mileage varied – badly

= Wonderful base engine

5.0L V-8 412 hp (Mustang GT)

+ Five-OMG!

- 91-octane recommended

= Keeps V-8 fires burning

5.4L SC V-8 550 hp (Shelby GT500)

+ Sounds better than Barry White

- Frequent tire rotations

= Ticket to traffic court

6.2L V-8 411 hp (F-150 SVT Raptor)

+ Tuned for Mad Max remake

- Ironically named after dinosaur

= … But a really nasty dinosaur

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

2.5L turbo H-4 265 hp (Subaru Legacy GT)

+ Powerful and engaging

- NVH gains from body engineering

= Why Subarus are selling

2.5L H-4 170 hp (Subaru Forester)

+ Torque, hp peaks arrive earlier

- Modest boost over last year

= Decent, but forgettable

General Motors Co.

1.4L I-4/111 kW drive motor (Chevy Volt)

+ Go ahead, drive crosstown

- Mileage with gas just OK

= Range anxiety solved

1.4L Ecotec I-4 turbo 138 hp (Chevy Cruze)

+ Great noise attenuation

- 99 hp/L comes up short

= Fine example of downsizing

1.8L Ecotec I-4 138 hp (Chevy Cruze)

+ 36 mpg highway

- Cast-iron block

= Fuels GM’s small-car strategy

2.0L DI I-4 turbo 220 hp (Buick Regal)

+ Not underpowered

- Premium fuel recommended

= Keeps Buick in game

2.4L DI I-4 182 hp (Chevy Equinox)

+ DI and good NVH coexist

- Competitors closing gap

= Proof of life at GM

6.2L LS3 V-8 436 hp (Corvette GS)

+ Upholds ’Vette mystique

- $230 from $55k price cap

= Enough with the pushrods

Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

1.5L I-4 HEV 122 hp (CR-Z)

+ Sporty, fun & CARB-friendly

- We never topped 37 mpg

= CR-X fans want gas version

Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd.

2.0L DI turbo I-4 274 hp (Sonata 2.0T)

+ Astonishing specific output

- Ragged NVH

= Envelope pushed too hard

2.4L DI I-4 198 hp (Sonata GLS)

+ Output specs trounce rivals

- Likewise, ragged NVH

= Gets the job done

2.4L I-4 HEV (Sonata Hybrid)

+ Flexible powertrain layout

- Middling real-world mpg

= Prius leadership secure

4.6L Tau V-8 385 hp (Genesis sedan)

+ Smooth and powerful

- Big brother even better

= Beginning of new dynasty

5.0L Tau DI V-8 429 hp (Genesis Sedan)

+ V-8 for the ages

- Sadly overshadows excellent 4.6L

= Korean powertrain’s finest hour

Kia Motors Corp.

3.5L V-6 276 hp (Sorento)

+ Great fit for this CUV

- Lost in the crowd

= Needs better mileage

Mazda Motor Corp.

1.5L I-4 100 hp (Mazda2)

+ Welcome to B-segment, Mazda

- Underwhelming

= Lacking zoom zoom

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

80 kW electric motor 107 hp (Leaf)

+ Electricity won’t cause wars

- Lord, find me an outlet

= So long grubby gas stations

1.6L I-4 turbo 188 hp (Juke)

+ Engine offsets goofy styling

- 2 hands on wheel required

= Marginalizes V-6s

2.5L V-6 218 hp (Infiniti G25)

+ Recalls fond VQ memories

- Needs premium fuel

= Infiniti’s downsizing play

Toyota Motor Corp.

1.8L I-4 HEV 134 hp (Prius)

+ Real-world 50 mpg

- Novelty wearing off

= EVs grabbing spotlight

4.0L V-8 270 hp (4Runner)

+ Improved internals and VVT

- Short of 300 hp threshhold

= Good fit for off-roading

Volkswagen AG

2.0L I-4 turbodiesel 140 hp (Jetta TDI)

+ Long-haul efficiency

- Unfriendly U.S. regulations

= Growing cult following

Volvo Car Corp.

3.0L I-6 turbo 300 hp (S60)

+ Casts brand in new light

- What took so long?

= Bavarians take note

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