4 electrified powertrains make Wards Top-10 Engines

EV, fuel-cell and two hybrids make the cut; no Germans represented

Published: December 14, 2017, 6:30 AM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:05 PM

2018 Ford Mustang made WardsAuto Top-10 for its 5.0L DOHC V-8

Wards has released its annual list of Ten Best “Engines” and a couple things are prominent in this year’s gathering — there are four electrified powertrains in the top-10, and there are no German representatives for the first time.

The awards were first handed out in 1995, meant to recognize outstanding performances under the hood from new or significantly altered powertrains for each model year, among vehicles with starting prices, this year, no higher than $63,000 US, as well as the carryover models from the previous year’s list.

And even with the price restrictions, luxury brands are traditionally well represented, but this year only Jaguar and Infiniti cracked the top-10 — for the 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-Cylinder in the Jaguar XF, and the 3.0-litre turbo V-6 in Infiniti Q50, with the latter representing Nissan’s VR-series of engines for the second year in a row.

“Infiniti is one of only two returning winners for this year’s Wards’ 10 Best Engines competition, and it happened with virtually no debate among the judges,” said Tom Murphy, managing editor of WardsAuto. “The 3.0L twin-turbo VR V6 in the Infiniti Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe is smooth and refined, yet devastatingly fast, with brilliant midrange acceleration and an uncanny ability to get off the line in a hurry. This engine makes V-8 power, and yet we managed (10.2 L/100 km) during our testing.

“Jaguar powertrain engineers should be enormously proud of their new Ingenium 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine, which we tested in the XF sedan but also appears in several other Jags,” continued Murphy. “Its 247 hp makes it more than competitive with other luxury leaning turbo-4s, and this engine cruises confidently while delivering plenty of punch for every situation. We look forward to testing this engine again next year, along with the high-output version making 296hp.”

“We’re happy to recognize great engines in luxury cars, but we’re thrilled to see so many high-volume automakers whose vehicles are more affordable for average Americans delivering truly outstanding powertrains,” added Drew Winter, WardsAuto’s senior content director. “And we certainly didn’t set out to find four electrified drivetrains to honor this year. These four belong on our list because they are extremely efficient while at the same time fun to drive.”

Winter is referring to the 150-kW Electric Propulsion System in the Chevrolet Bolt EV) and the 130-kW Fuel Cell/Electric Propulsion System in the Honda Clarity, and the electric motor assisted 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle 4-Cylinder in the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the 3.6-litre Pentastar V-6 in the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid — the other returning winner.

“The Pacifica Hybrid is a big, 7-passenger plug-in hybrid minivan with all the bells and whistles families have come to adore, but with (53 km) of full electric range and levels of fuel efficiency unimaginable just a few short years ago,” said Winter. “With most owners using their minivans to run errands and occasionally take a long-distance drive, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is a stroke of genius.”

Editors score each powertrain based on horsepower, torque, comparative specs, noise attenuation, observed fuel economy and the application of new technology.

“The Chevrolet Bolt EV is an affordable, world-changing vehicle that delivers on the promise of an electric car for the masses,” said Winter. “It is quick and smartly designed and its official range of (383 km) makes it attractive to a wider audience. Its 266 lb-ft of torque delivers thrilling acceleration, which makes it fun to drive every day, and it is available now in dealerships in all 50 states.”

The remaining four awards went to the 2.7-litre Twin Turbo V-6 in the Ford F-150, the 5.0-litre V-8 in the Mustang GT, the 2.0-litre VTEC turbo “four” in the Honda Civic Type R, and the 3.3-litre twin turbo V-6 in the Kia Stinger.

“It’s no easy task to meet or beat the world’s best premium 6-cylinder engines,” concluded Winter. “The Kia Stinger GT’s twin-turbo V-6 bulldozed its way onto the 2018 Wards 10 Best Engines list with a potent mixture of refinement, value and thunderous torque that takes the Kia brand to a whole new level in the hierarchy of global automakers.”

Winning manufacturers will receive their WardsAuto trophies at next month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.