What you won't find in Ward's Best Engines of 1998 competition: anything about fuel cells, batteries, or we think you'll be delighted to learn global warming.

What you will find: the 10 best internal-combustion engines currently available for sale in the U.S. Of course we're aware that all the talk these days is about alternatives to internal combustion, but we're gambling that we'll have cause to present best engines awards for, oh, a couple more decades or so.

1998 is the fourth year for our Best Engines awards. A panel of six Ward's editors first nominates what it believes to be the year's most notable engines (see sidebar p.41). Last year's winners are automatically nominated. And it's every engine against every other engine in a head-to-head shootout. The sole stipulation: the engine must be available in regular production from the manufacturer and must be in a vehicle costing no more than $50,000.

A note about that $50,000 ceiling. It is the same as when we began the Best Engines competition in 1995.

At no time in the Ward's 10 Best Engines competition (other than in the inaugural year) have we welcomed more new engines - there are five first-time winners for 1998.

You'll also find this year's Best Engines winners presented with something of an international tang - three from the U.S., four from Germany and three from Japan - as we see clever manufacturers coming to realize that exceptional engines not only do their job with flair, but can be instrumental in establishing genuine brand character.