<a href="http://subscribers.wardsauto.com/reports/2005/tenbest" target="_blank"><img border="0" class="storyimage-right" src="http://subscribers.wardsauto.com/images/archive/main/2005/tenbesteng/more.gif" /></a> Audi AG

3.2L FSI DOHC I-6 (Audi A6)
255 hp/243 lb.-ft.
For: Audi tech again impresses.
Against: Trifling cold-start issues.
Bottom line: Diesel without the baggage?

4.2L DOHC V-8 (Audi S4)
340 hp/302 lb.-ft.
For: Power density; staggeringly refined.
Against: Appetite for high-octane would shame a Hummer.
Bottom line: Totally corrupting.

BMW AG

3L DOHC I-6 (330i Performance Package)
235 hp/222 lb.-ft.
For: Makes V-6s feel like Mix Masters.
Against: We say again: needs more cubes.
Bottom line: Waiting for Valvetronic, DI.

3.2L DOHC I-6 (M3)
333 hp/262 lb.-ft.
For: With 104 hp/L, you have to ask?
Against: Edgy driveability; soon to die.
Bottom line: Technical masterpiece.

DaimlerChrysler AG

2.8L DOHC I-4 turbodiesel (Liberty)
160 hp/295 lb.-ft.
For: Vital economy boost for thirsty Liberty.
Against: Hardly the best diesel in DC bin.
Bottom line: Won’t convince U.S. drivers.

3.2L DOHC I-6 turbodiesel (E320 CDI)
201 hp/369 lb.-ft.
For: Thunderous torque; clatter mitigation.
Against: Exhaust can be a little stinky.
Bottom line: Does everything better than a gasoline equivalent.

3.5L DOHC V-6 (Mercedes SLK)
268 hp/258 lb.-ft.
For: Chesty torque; delicious exhaust.
Against: Heavy flywheel feel; unemotional.
Bottom line: Curiously un-fun.

5.7L OHV Hemi V-8 (Chrysler 300C)
340 hp/390 lb.-ft.
For: Feels totally unstressed at 60 hp/L.
Against: Heavy-handed torque management from tranny.
Bottom line: Indomitable.

5.9L OHV I-6 turbodiesel (Ram HD)
325 hp/600 lb.-ft.
For: 600 lb.-ft. is just stupid.
Against: Really too much for civilian missions.
Bottom line: Give us half of everything for a light vehicle.

Ford Motor Co.

2.3L DOHC I-4 (Focus ST)
151 hp/154 lb.-ft.
For: Good NVH; PZEV rating.
Against: Wheezy at higher rpm.
Bottom line: Chalk up one payoff from Mazda ownership.

2.3L DOHC I-4 (Escape Hybrid)
133 hp/129 lb.-ft.
For: Works well in hybrid duty.
Against: Doesn’t like hills. Even molehills.
Bottom line: We know we’re supposed to love it, but…

4.6L SOHC V-8 (Mustang GT)
300 hp/320 lb.-ft.
For: Beautifully adapted for muscle-car duty.
Against: Low redline; how about 6 gears?
Bottom line: Best $25,000 motor on earth.

5.4L SOHC V-8 (F-150)
300 hp/365 lb.-ft.
For: Ultra-mega refinement.
Against: Hitched to a heavy, heavy truck.
Bottom line: Held back by pudgy platform.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

2.5L turbo DOHC H-4 (Subaru Legacy GT)
250 hp/250 lb.-ft.
For: Stun-gun jolt when turbo spools.
Against: Boost not subtle; likes to drink.
Bottom line: Do Subaru buyers need this?

2.5L turbocharged DOHC H-4 (Subaru WRX STi)
300 hp/300 lb.-ft.
For: Can talk smack on V-8s.
Against: NVH only the “tuner crowd” could love.
Bottom line: Awesome, dude – for 15 minutes.

General Motors Corp.

3.6L DOHC V-6 (Cadillac CTS)
255 hp/255 lb.-ft.
For: Superb performance balance, NVH.
Against: Ignored by el-cheapo GM brass.
Bottom line: GM, get this in everything. Now.

4.2L DOHC I-6 (Chevrolet TrailBlazer)
275 hp/275 lb.-ft.
For: Intelligent engineering, manufacturing.
Against: Surely time for a few more horses.
Bottom line: See 3.6L V-6 above.

5.3L OHV V-8 (Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT)
300 hp/330 lb.-ft.
For: Cylinder deactivation, hefty power.
Against: How often are half of those cylinders really gonna go quiet?
Bottom line: Tree-hugger distraction.

6L OHV V-8 (Chevrolet Corvette)
400 hp/400 lb.-ft.
For: Big numbers.
Against: Startlingly loud and ragged; not doing small-block any favors.
Bottom line: Pep Boys bait.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

2L DOHC I-4 (Acura RSX Type S)
210 hp/143 lb.-ft.
For: Sweetest 210 hp you’ll find.
Against: Not really an adult torque number.
Bottom line: Nobody does a better 4-cyl.

2.4L DOHC I-4 (Acura TSX)
200 hp/166 lb.-ft.
For: Deserves exhibit in the NVH museum.
Against: Typical Honda torque deprivation.
Bottom line: All anybody really needs.

3L SOHC V-6 (Accord Coupe)
240 hp/212 lb.-ft.
For: The Honda of V-6s.
Against: Not always “on the cam.”
Bottom line: All anybody really needs, V-6 edition.

3L SOHC V-6/IMA (Accord Hybrid)
255 hp/232 lb.-ft.
For: Remarkable technology integration.
Against: Sometimes gets a little busy.
Bottom line: If you’ve got to go hybrid.

3.5L SOHC V-6 (Odyssey Touring)
255 hp/250 lb.-ft.
For: Manly minivan mill; VCM ain’t bad, too.
Against: Give us a minute.
Bottom line: Hey kids, was that a BMW we just passed?

3.5L SOHC V-6 (Acura RL)
300 hp/243 lb.-ft.
For: Sets new power-density standard.
Against: Can be thrashy.
Bottom line: Credible as a surrogate V-8?

Mazda Motor Corp.

1.3L Renesis Rotary (RX-8)
238 hp/159 lb.-ft.
For: Revs forever; sounds like no other.
Against: Torque would embarrass even Honda.
Bottom line: Refreshingly unique.

2.3L DOHC I-4 (Mazda 3s)
160 hp/150 lb.-ft.
For: Solidly engineered.
Against: Not overly ambitious.
Bottom line: Seems so normal.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

3.5L DOHC V-6 (Infiniti G35)
298 hp/260 lb.-ft.
For: Storming power, expressive sounds.
Against: Straying from original qualities.
Bottom line: Possibly best V-6 ever built.

4L DOHC V-6 (Pathfinder)
270 hp/291 lb.-ft.
For: Probably best engine in the class.
Against: VQ dumbed-down for trucks.
Bottom line: ...we’re not amused.

5.6L DOHC V-8 (Titan)
305 hp/379 lb.-ft.
For: Wieldy torque.
Against: Too much designed-in racket.
Bottom line: Good hp, lose the macho.

Toyota Motor Corp.

1.5L DOHC I-4 Hybrid (Prius)
76 hp/82 lb.-ft.
For: Does what it’s supposed to do (mostly).
Against: Soapbox racers have more torque.
Bottom line: Can’t argue with success.

4L DOHC V-6 (Tacoma)
245 hp/282 lb.-ft.
For: Way better than Toyota’s old V-6.
Against: Power still behind the times.
Bottom line: Money in the bank for Toyota.

4.7L DOHC V-8 (Tundra)
282 hp/325 lb.-ft.
For: Serious power hike; premium feel.
Against: Nothing another half-L couldn’t fix.
Bottom line: Excuses no longer required.

Volkswagen AG

2L SOHC I-4 turbodiesel (Passat TDI)
134 hp/247 lb.-ft.
For: No-nonsense fuel economy.
Against: Weak, automatic only.
Bottom line: We want the Euro diesels.

Volvo Cars

2.5L turbocharged DOHC I-5 (S40 T5)
218 hp/236 lb.-ft.
For: Velvety power surge, decent economy.
Against: Light grunt from forced induction.
Bottom line: Not a bad solution.

4.4L DOHC V-8 (XC90)
311 hp/325 lb.-ft.
For: Yamaha engineered it.
Against: Japan and Sweden aren’t yet famous for V-8 work.
Bottom line: Ten percent away from glory.

bvisnic@primediabusiness.com