Special Coverage

Ten Best Engines logoWard’s 10 Best Engines

Judges’ Remarks

As the 10 Best Engines judging period was coming to a close in mid-November, I eagerly anticipated my test car for the long Thanksgiving weekend.

There were several standout models in the fleet that week, including the Audi S4 Avant and BMW 335i. I couldn’t wait to see which set of keys Ward’s AutoWorld Senior Editor and Dry Erase Board Guru Tom Murphy would bestow upon me.

Then I made the trip down the hall to view the big board and did a double take.

Instead of being a diva in one of the Deutschland duo, I was condemned to spend the weekend in a soccer-mom staple: the Honda Accord.

I noticed the S4 and 335i would spend Turkey Day with WAW Editor Drew Winter and Murphy, respectively.

I wanted to scream, “gender discrimination” and stomp into their offices, demanding a different set of keys. But, as a junior staffer, I accepted my fate with quiet resignation.

What followed over the next five days was a revelation.

To be fair, our test car was the EX-L sedan trim, the sportiest of all Accords, with a close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission.

But the inclusion of the Accord at all in this year’s evaluations caused a ruckus among the judges.

The 244-hp, 3L 24-valve SOHC V-6 basically is unchanged since the last time we tested it – and it won – as a solo engine in 2004 and mated with an electric motor in the Accord Hybrid in 2005. But tested in the Accord Hybrid last year, it did not make the list.

Murphy, after driving the EX-L over the summer, argued the engine deserved a second look because it got bumped off the list in 2006 solely because its application in the Accord Hybrid.

In an unprecedented move, Murphy nominated the engine for our list again, citing its still-impressive 81-hp per liter, effortless revving and great fuel economy.

After a long trek up I-75 to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner, I had to agree. The Accord proved to be, like so many Hondas, not showy but surprisingly capable. Cruising at a steady (and legal) 70 mph (113 km/h), the 3L met every challenge with ease, although a little more torque at low rpm sure would be nice for big-rig passing.

Constantly revving to 5,000 rpm to get at the engine’s relatively meager 211 lb.-ft (286 Nm) of torque is entertaining most of the time, but not always.

Open up the throttle, though, and this seemingly plain-jane V-6 emits a satisfying snarl.

Fuel economy, Honda’s calling card, is impressive too, returning an observed 29 mpg (8L/100 km) in mixed driving. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the car at 21/30 mpg (11-7.8 L/100 km) in city/highway motoring.

Honda’s J-Series V-6 design embodies everything we want to recognize with the 10 Best Engines. However, some judges considered the 3L V-6 a party crasher that didn’t belong on this year’s list.

Despite my arguments in its favor, it ultimately joined several other great engines that barely failed to make the cut.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com