Eric Mayne's Blog

Behind the Scenes of Ward's 10 Best Engines: A Tip of the Cap


Surprise and delight. OEM spinmeisters combine these words with gag-inducing frequency to extol vehicle features.

But they speak volumes, aptly describing that magical moment when something exceeds expectations.

At WardsAuto, it happens frequently this time of year as we cycle through the seemingly endless list of vehicles cradling contenders in the Ward's 10 Best Engines competition.

First, some background. WardsAuto functions like any other successful organization. We are focused on the task at hand, diligent in our execution and respectful of one another – unless it involves refueling test vehicles.

The rule is simple: Never leave a tank less than half-full. But it’s something we are loath to do. And I include myself here.

Digital fuel gauges make cheating impossible. Their precision haunts my inner scofflaw. (Thanks a lot Fiat, Audi, etc.)

But the brands that still embrace needles and hash marks bring out the worst in me. Viewed from the proper angle, an analogue gauge can say anthing you want it to say. From experience, I know this to be true.

Today, however, as I completed my round in a ’12 Ford Focus powered by the auto maker’s new 2.0L I-4 GDI, my conscience got the best of me.

The fuel-gauge needle was a gnat’s hair below half a tank. And next in line to drive the car was Ward’s Dealer Business Editor Steve Finlay. (I’ve never seen Steve get angry, but instinct tells me it’s something I should avoid.)

So I grudgingly pulled into a filling station, braced myself against the chilly Michigan morning, popped the fuel-filler flap and – surprise and delight! No cap.

Ford's capless fuel-filler system.

Ford debuted its capless fuel-filler system on the '05 GT supercar and launched the feature in volume three years later, so I've used it before. (It inspired me to install an aftermarket system on my personal car.)

But today, I’d simply forgotten it was on the car I was driving. Kudos to Ford for making the tiresome chore of refueling less onerous.

Hats off also to Chrysler, which is offering the feature on ’12 models of its core-brand 300 and the Dodge Charger.

If all vehicles had this feature, WardsAuto headquarters would be a kinder, gentler place.

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