From a 707-hp fire-breathing V-8 to a hydrogen-powered fuel cell emitting nothing but water vapor, the 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Engines list is by far the most diverse and technically advanced pool of honorees in 21 years of recognizing powertrain excellence.

WardsAuto editors spent October and November evaluating 36 all-new or improved powertrains, including four battery-electrics before settling on the winners. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • 127-kW Electric Motor (BMW i3 electric vehicle)
  • 6.2L OHV V-8 (Chevrolet Corvette Stingray)
  • 6.2L Supercharged OHV V-8 (Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat)
  • 1.0L Turbocharged DOHC 3-cyl. (Ford Fiesta)
  • 100-kW Fuel Cell (Hyundai Tucson FCV)
  • 1.5L Turbocharged DOHC 3-cyl. (Mini Cooper)
  • 3.0L Turbodiesel DOHC V-6 (Ram 1500 EcoDiesel)
  • 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC H-4 (Subaru WRX)
  • 1.8L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl. (Volkswagen Golf)
  • 2.0L Turbocharged  DOHC 4-cyl. (Volvo S60)

The Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition pits the latest engines available in the U.S. market against the returning winners from the previous year. Four engines that won last year return for 2015: the Chevrolet V-8, Ford 3-cyl., Ram diesel and VW 4-cyl. All entries fall under a base vehicle price cap of $60,000.

“We spend a lot of time reading the powertrain tea leaves throughout the auto industry, and we’re proud that this year’s list is a microcosm of all the latest innovation coming from automakers,” says WardsAuto World Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter.

“It’s not just a list for enthusiasts or for environmentalists,” he says. “There’s something for every vehicle shopper and every budget. All the powertrains on this list deliver a first-rate driving experience.”

BMW seeks to redefine the concept of mobility and generally succeeds with the i3, a battery-electric compact car that employs a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell, thermoplastic body panels and lots of recycled materials to deliver a curb weight hundreds of pounds lighter than every other 4-passenger EV on the market.

The lightweight chassis sets the stage for a sprightly electric motor that generates 170 hp and 184 lb.-ft. (249 Nm) of torque in a broad powerband that is uncommon among EVs, enabling the i3 to reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in 7 seconds.

Truly setting the i3 apart from other EVs is the optional 0.7L gasoline-fueled generator that roughly doubles range to 150 miles (241 km) and mitigates the fear of being stranded when the electricity runs out.