What is in this article?:
- Tiny Turbos, Big-Displacement Mills Bookend GMâ€™s 10 Best Engines Showcase
- Turbodiesel Needs More Work
WardsAuto editors evaluated a wide-ranging field of seven GM powertrains, from the second-generation Volt range-extended electric propulsion system to the Cadillac ATS-V. Two make the cut, but close contenders abound.
Editor Gritzinger pumped for GM’s extremes: Camaro SS V-8 and range-extended Volt.
claims two spots on our 2016 Wards 10 Best Engines list, but two more score remarkably close out of a crop of seven total nominees under consideration from the automaker.
Winners are the all-new range-extended electric propulsion system in the ’16 Chevrolet Volt and the totally overhauled 3.6L V-6 tested in the Chevrolet Camaro and the Cadillac ATS. Both second-generation powertrains win high praise for significant improvements and superior performance.
Close contenders are two engines that bookend GM’s powerplant showcase: the twin-turbo 3.6L V-6 in the Cadillac ATS-V and the turbocharged 1.5L I-4 in the Chevy Malibu. Others earning consideration include the 6.2L V-8 in the Camaro SS, the all-new 2.8L turbodiesel I-4 in the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon midsize pickups and the 3.6L CNG V-6 in the Chevy Impala.
It’s a tough call to leave out a wicked engine like the ATS-V’s twin-turbo V-6. It makes 464 hp at 5,850 rpm and 445 lb.-ft. (603 Nm) of torque at just 3,500 rpm.
That works out to a strong specific output of 130 hp/L, while posting fuel economy in the 22-mpg (10.7 L/100 km) range in our real-world driving. TheM3 does slightly better but at a substantially higher price compared to our test car ($60,465 base price, just under our $61,000 base-price cap).
Cost is the ATS-V’s Achilles heel in this case, along with the fact the engine is based on GM’s outgoing 3.6L V-6. They’ve pushed this engine to the limit; we can’t wait to see what happens when the same atmospherics and engineering extras are applied to the all-new 3.6L V-6.
At the opposite end, the Malibu’s diminutive 1.5L turbo I-4 represents the future of GM propulsion, starting with its starring role as the Volt’s new engine (in non-turbo form) and as the primary mover in Chevy’s bread-and-butter small sedan.
In the 3,100-lb. (1,406-kg) Malibu, the turbo engine’s 184 lb.-ft. (249 Nm) of torque and its impressive 30-35 mpg (7.8-6.7 L/100 km) draws rave reviews, along with its relative quiet even at wide-open throttle. With just a little more refinement, this engine is a winner.