Turbos, hybrids and EVs top Wards powertrain class for 2020

Wards editors chose top-10 from list of 26 engines and electric propulsion systems

Published: December 24, 2019, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 17, 2021, 3:44 PM

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Wards has released its annual top-10 of the best propulsion systems (it used to be engines, but here we are) and nearly half the finalists are electrified powertrains (for the third consecutive year) but of particular interest is that for the first time in over a decade, there are three inline 6-cylinder engines honoured.

“The auto industry is making tremendous strides by continuing to develop innovative internal-combustion engines while simultaneously investing in hybrids, battery-electrics, 48V mild hybrids and hydrogen-powered fuel cells,” said Drew Winter, Wards Senior Content Director.

Renamed the 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems, the annual recognition has been bestowed on auto companies since 1995 to recognize ground-breaking engineering. The list this year is comprised of three family sedans, two each in the coupe, luxury and pickup segments, and an electric crossover. To be eligible, vehicles must have a base price no higher than $65,000.

“We’ve had years with several luxury brands making the list, but this year there were only two: BMW and Mercedes-Benz,” said Winter. “It’s important that our winning picks remain within reach for American consumers and represent a wide range of internal-combustion and electrified propulsion sources.”

Wards editors chose the top-10 from a list of 26 all-new or significantly-improved engines and electric propulsion systems (as well as last year’s honourees), evaluating them in everyday driving in the Detroit area in early fall, then scoring them on horsepower, torque, comparative specs, noise/vibration/harshness, observed economy and the application of new technology.

Repeat winners included the BMW 3.0-litre turbo inline-6, Ram Pentastar eTorque, Honda 4-cylinder hybrid, Hyundai battery-electric and Nissan VC-Turbo 4-cylinder. To be eligible this year, vehicles must have a base price no higher than $65,000.

2020 Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems

(alphabetical by brand)

  • BMW M340i — 3.0-litre DOHC turbo inline-6
  • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 6.2-litre overhead valve V-8
  • Ford Mustang — 2.3-litre DOHC High Performance turbo 4-cylinder
  • GMC Sierra — 3.0-litre DOHC turbodiesel inline-6
  • Honda Accord Hybrid 2.0-litre DOHC Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC 4-cylinder
  • Hyundai Kona 150-kW Propulsion System
  • Hyundai Sonata 1.6-litre DOHC turbo 4-cylinder
  • Mercedes-Benz GLE450 — 3.0-litre DOHC 48V hybrid turbo inline-6
  • Nissan Altima 2.0-litre DOHC VC-Turbo 4-cylinder
  • Ram 1500 — 3.6-litre DOHC 48V hybrid eTorque V-6