Special Report

Ward’s 10 Best Engines

Engines that combine direct injection with turbocharging are not new to the Ward’s 10 Best Engines list. Most recently, we’ve recognized the beautiful synergy of the two technologies on BMW AG’s 3.0L DOHC Twin-Turbo I-6 in the 1-Series, Mazda Motor Corp.’s DISI 2.3L turbocharged DOHC I-4 in the MazdaSpeed3 and others.

But Ford Motor Co.’s 3.5L twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 is a different take on the technology.It represents the cornerstone of a massive global engine downsizing strategy aimed at dramatically improving fleet fuel economy and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions.

Gasoline turbocharged direct-injection technology branded by Ford as “EcoBoost” eventually will encompass not just premium and performance vehicles, but popularly priced vehicles as well.

That includes fullsize pickups in the U.S. and 4-cyl. engines as small as 1.6L in Europe. Ford says EcoBoost will improve fuel economy up to 20% and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as much as 15%.

As many as 1.3 million new Ford vehicles will be powered by EcoBoost technology annually by 2013, the auto maker says.

We laud Ford’s executives and engineers for launching such an ambitious plan, but that’s not what impressed jurors most about the 3.5L EcoBoost. It wasn’t even the V-6’s 365 hp or 104 hp/L specific output.

What ultimately convinced Ward’s jurors EcoBoost is the real deal is the stunning 350 lb.-ft. (475 Nm) of torque the V-6 produces at just 1,500 rpm. After starting there, it’s torque “curve” remains flat as a table top to 5,250 rpm.

That blew away some excellent V-8s vying for a spot on the list this year. The 4.6L V-8 in the Toyota Tundra has lots of low-end grunt and makes a healthy 327 lb.-ft. (443 Nm) of torque, but it doesn’t get maximum twist until 3,400 rpm.

Even the only V-8 that made our list this year, the 4.6L Tau in the Hyundai Genesis sedan, can’t match the EcoBoost with its 333 lb.-ft. (451 Nm) at 3,500 rpm. Ditto for the DI supercharged 3.0L V-6 in the Audi S4 Euro hotrod. It needs at least 2,900 rpm to reach maximum torque of 325 lb.-ft. (441 Nm).

Of course, that doesn’t mean judges spent all their time staring at torque charts. The EcoBoost did an admirable job motivating the big and beefy Taurus SHO, whose porky 4,368 lbs. (1981 kg) would challenge the strongest, biggest-displacement V-8.

And it delivered decent fuel economy considering it’s a high-performance engine in a beast of a car: 17/25 mpg (13.8-9.4 L/100 km). That’s exactly the same as the thrifty Tau V-8 in the Genesis sedan, which is more than 350 lbs. (159 kg) lighter.

If the SHO suffers any negative feedback in this area, we can only hope the body will tell the engine: “Look, it’s not you, it’s me.”

We’re convinced the Ford 3.5L EcoBoost is going to make the world a better place, in more ways than one.

dwinter@wardsauto.com

Ward's 10 Best Engines is a copyright of Penton Media Inc. Commercial references to the program and/or awards are prohibited without prior permission of Ward's Automotive Group.