The list of engines has never been more diverse.
The Wards best engine awards have been going for 25-years now and this year’s winners are the most varied in its history. “I never thought I’d live to see the day when a fuel-cell car and a battery EV would make the list the same year as two burly V8s and a sophisticated 4-cyl. engine with variable compression”, says Drew Winter, WardsAuto senior content director.
Drew goes on to say that the need to meet both government regulations in terms of low emissions while still satisfying customers needs has pushed automakers in various directions, yet he believes that this year’s list shows that they have managed to satisfy both demands.
We take a look at the top ten engines for this year and the list will show that while many of the old names are still scoring highly, there are some interesting new entrants here too.
The sheer variety of trophy winners show that the motor manufacturers are not only tackling the diverse needs of the industry, but they are doing it with innovate new ideas too.
First up is the B58 3.0-liter inline-six turbocharged engine from BMW. The Bavarian manufacturer has won 34 times before and its smooth inline-six engines have been responsible for 28 of those trophies.
The current B58 as seen in the 2019 BMW X5 has had a number of updates carried out and now features revised internals as well as a higher-pressure fuel-injection system. Ward’s judges felt that it felt stronger than its 340 horsepower power output would suggest and their fuel economy figures were impressive despite some spirited driving.
Thanks to the push for ever-increasing efficiency, not many people would have bet on a V8 making the list this year yet GM’s 420 hp 6.2-liter V8 as used in the 2019 Chevy Silverado defied expectations.
Key to its success is the Dynamic Fuel Management cylinder-deactivation technology. The system improves fuel economy by up to 2 mpg in real-world driving situations and it is so smooth that you cannot notice it in action.
Ford is a regular on Ward’s top ten list, equalling BMW for the highest tally and this year it has not one but two engines that have made the cut.
The first is another V8, this time the 460-hp 5.0-liter unit from the 2019 Ford Mustang GT. The Wards team make a specific mention of the uprated 480 hp variant as used in the Bullitt, as it delivers a noticeably more characterful performance on the road thanks to the wider throttle bodies and that sonorous free flow active exhaust system.
The second entrant for Ford is the smooth and quiet 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V6 in the 2018 Ford F-150. This engine has been around since 2005 however it has been heavily revised in its current guise.
Variations of this motor have also been used by Jaguar Land Rover and when fitted to the F-150 SuperCrew 4x2, it delivered an astounding 26 mpg over 800 miles of testing. That is the best result the team has ever seen in a full-size pickup.
The 2018 Honda Accord Hybrid took the next spot with its 212-hp 2.0-liter iVTEC Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine. It seamlessly shuffles between its two electric motors, the ICE or a combination of both to deliver strong acceleration as well as delivering almost 40 mpg in the judge’s test drives.
The complex drivetrain was also lauded for it being so accessible to most motorists thanks to its $25,100 base price.
Another alternatively fuelled entrant scored a trophy this year, this one being the 2019 Hyundai Nexo. The hydrogen fuel-cell/electric-propulsion system as used in this crossover offers a class-leading range of up to 380 miles and it can be refuelled far quicker than a traditional electric vehicle.
The efficient packaging does not compromise on interior space and thanks to its scalability, can be fitted to just about any type of vehicle from cars to buses and even trucks.
Hyundai’s investment in alternative fuels is clearly paying off as they receive another trophy for the 2019 Kona Electric CUV. It is powered by a 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 150-kW permanent magnet synchronous motor which also produces 291 lb-ft of torque. It offers very strong acceleration and the 415 mile EPA-estimated range is second only to some far more expensive Tesla models.
Infiniti takes the next trophy with its variable-compression 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine as used in the QX50. Using a patented multi-link device, the VC-turbo can modify the compression ratio from 14.0:1 to 8.0:1 while the engine is running at speed. The result is a very strong power delivery allied with much-improved fuel economy figures. The VC-Turbo delivers 268 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque to match the power of the 3.5-liter V6 it replaces while being 27-percent more efficient overall.
Toyota has been the leader in the hybrid field for decades, earning six 10 Best Engine trophies since 2001 for these powerplants. The latest to claim a prize is the 2019 Lexus UX 250h crossover. It uses a 2.0-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine with both port and direct fuel injection combined with three electric motors, two in the transmission and one driving the rear wheels. It may be complex, but the results are a smooth power delivery with strong acceleration and up to 38 mpg in real-world testing. It is currently billed as America’s most efficient utility vehicle without a plug.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles takes the final trophy for 2019 with its 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, an engine that has been around for nearly a decade. However, the updated version as fitted to the 2019 Ram 1500 pickup comes equipped with eTorque, the FCA’s new 48V mild-hybrid system that not only provides a strong power boost at launch but also improves fuel economy. The system helped the heavy all-wheel-drive Ram average 22 mpg over 500 miles of testing and gave the truck impressive responsiveness off the line as well. The eTorque system is also available with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 in the Ram 1500 as well as the 2.0-liter turbocharged motor in the new Jeep Wrangler.