Special Coverage

Ten Best Engines logoWard’s 10 Best Engines

Thirty-three nominated engines for the 2007 Ward’s 10 Best Engines awards, laid bare in our infamous 3-line summaries.

Audi AG

2L turbocharged DOHC I-4 (A3)
200 hp/207 lb.-ft.
For: The way throttles should work.
Against: All right, a few more ponies wouldn’t hurt.
Our take: German engine development at its best.

4.2L DOHC V-8 (S4)
340 hp/302 lb.-ft.
For: Sinful sounds, intoxicating torque.
Against: Hard on gas. Real hard.
Our take: Like marrying a stripper.

BMW AG

3L DOHC I-6 (Z4 3.0si)
255 hp/220 lb.-ft.
For: Smoothness is legendary for a reason.
Against: Heartily out-torqued by larger V-6s.
Our take: The total package.

3L turbocharged DOHC I-6 (335i)
300 hp/300 lb.-ft.
For: Eradication of lag, epic torque.
Against: Nothing in this life.
Our take: Oh. My. God.

DaimlerChrysler AG

1.8L DOHC I-4 (Caliber)
148 hp/125 lb.-ft.
For: Really is a light sipper, cool manufacturing model.
Against: A disaster with CVT.
Our take: How’d they get the dead pedal on the right?

2.4L DOHC I-4 (Jeep Compass)
172 hp/165 lb.-ft.
For: Some extravagant components, free revver.
Against: Only makes 24 hp more than the 1.8?
Our take: Too many cooks.

3L DOHC V-6 turbodiesel (Mercedes E320 Bluetec)
208 hp/400 lb.-ft.
For: Torque-hammer of the gods.
Against: Don’t get the fuel on your shoes.
Our take: It’s time.

3L DOHC V-6 turbodiesel (Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD)
215 hp/376 lb.-ft.
For: Perfect application for diesel.
Against: Cost-cutting on the NVH for Jeep?
Our take: Engine-sharing we can live with.

4L SOHC V-6 (Dodge Nitro R/T)
260 hp/265 lb.-ft.
For: Brawny in the midrange.
Against: Feels, sounds old.
Our take: The wait for a dynamic Chrysler V-6 continues.

5.7L OHV V-8 (Chrysler 300C)
340 hp/390 lb.-ft.
For: Gets down whenever you want.
Against: We’d like to see a smaller one.
Our take: Still pretty special.

Ford Motor Co.

3.5L DOHC V-6 (Lincoln MKX)
265 hp/250 lb.-ft.
For: Cracking midrange, super-crisp throttle.
Against: Fuel economy sets no standards.
Our take: Runs with the best right out of the box.

4.6L SOHC V-8 (Mustang Shelby GT)
325 hp/330 lb.-ft.
For: Luscious exhaust; 71 hp/L is getting serious.
Against: Tuner-inspired intake a bit too raucous.
Our take: Sweet tweak for iconic performance V-8.

4.6L SOHC V-8 (Mustang GT)
300 hp/320 lb.-ft.
For: OHC design, exuberant power delivery.
Against: Takes a sec to get on the cam.
Our take: More than just a muscle-car V-8.

5.4L supercharged DOHC V-8 (Mustang Shelby GT 500)
500 hp/480 lb.-ft.
For: Big numbers for this kind of money.
Against: We kept looking for the loose plug wire.
Our take: Just go get a Viagra prescription already.

General Motors Corp.

2L turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Saturn Sky Red Line)
260 hp/260 lb.-ft.
For: Punchy enough.
Against: Inexplicably gruff.
Our take: Whiff of Quad 4.

2L supercharged DOHC I-4 (Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged)
205 hp/200 lb.-ft.
For: Perfect supercharger application.
Against: But superchargers seem so passé.
Our take: Fun for the money.

2.4L DOHC I-4 Hybrid (Saturn Vue Green Line)
170 hp/162 lb.-ft.
For: Works without you knowing it.
Against: Works without you knowing it.
Our take: Hybrid for the grocery co-op crowd.

2.8L turbocharged DOHC V-6 (Saab 9-3)
250 hp/258 lb.-ft.
For: Turbo V-6 is a rarity.
Against: Feels dialed-back.
Our take: Delightfully Saaby.

2.9L DOHC I-4 (GMC Canyon)
185 hp/190 lb.-ft.
For: Finally making some decent power.
Against: Relentlessly uninvolving.
Our take: Tough to love 4-cyls. in pickups.

3.6L DOHC V-6 (Saturn Outlook)
275 hp/251 lb.-ft.
For: Revs with the best of ’em.
Against: Still not quite there.
Our take: When “competitive” is the goal.

3.7L DOHC I-5 (Chevrolet Colorado)
242 hp/242 lb.-ft.
For: Knocked off from a great I-6.
Against: Lose a cylinder, lose the magic?
Our take: Modular odd duck.

6.2L OHV V-8 (GMC Yukon Denali)
380 hp/417 lb.-ft.
For: Big-time grunt.
Against: More displacement for the sake of more displacement.
Our take: Rummy probably drives one.

6.6L OHV V-8 turbodiesel (Chevrolet Silverado HD)
365 hp/660 lb.-ft.
For: When the torque number starts with a 6…
Against: Narrow relevance.
Our take: The class of this class.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

1.5L SOHC I-4 (Fit)
109 hp/105 lb.-ft.
For: Wiry responses.
Against: Kind of like getting your fiber.
Our take: If you’re going to be here, be here with Honda.

2.3L turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Acura RDX)
240 hp/260 lb.-ft.
For: First Honda mill that makes real torque.
Against: Lag-mitigation efforts not entirely successful.
Our take: A tweak or two from glory.

3L SOHC V-6 (Accord)
244 hp/211 lb.-ft.
For: Honda’s making 81 hp/L pretty cheap.
Against: All the 3.5L V-6s out there.
Our take: Totally impressive volume engine.

3.7L SOHC V-6 (Acura MDX)
300 hp/275 lb.-ft.
For: Can’t argue with the numbers.
Against: Clinical demeanor.
Our take: C’mon, Honda: Give in and make a V-8.

Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd.

3.8L DOHC V-6 (Azera)
263 hp/257 lb.-ft.
For: Mannerly in all respects.
Against: 69 hp/L isn’t heading in the right direction.
Our take: Sizzle still elusive for Hyundai.

Mazda Motor Corp.

2.3L turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Mazdaspeed3)
263 hp/280 lb.-ft.
For: Whack whenever you want it.
Against: A little too frantic in a subcompact.
Our take: Tuning taken seriously.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

2L DOHC I-4 (Sentra)
140 hp/147 lb.-ft.
For: Smooth, willing.
Against: So is a lot of stuff these days.
Our take: Just plain conventional.

3.5L DOHC V-6 (Infiniti G35)
306 hp/268 lb.-ft.
For: Refinement updates, sinister throttle response.
Against: Don’t watch the fuel gauge too closely.
Our take: Alpha Dog of V-6s regains its manners.

Toyota Motor Corp.

2.4L DOHC I-4 HSD (Camry Hybrid)
147 hp/138 lb.-ft.
For: All considered, probably the best hybrid yet.
Against: Hip in that Fred MacMurray kinda way.
Our take: Eco Bland.

3.5L DOHC V-6 (Lexus IS 350)
306 hp/277 lb.-ft.
For: Technically intriguing, titanically refined.
Against: What, no manual gearbox?
Our take: The Sharper Image, Import Tuner and J.D. Power collide.