A funny thing happened on our way to this year's 10 Best Engines list.

I got a speeding ticket, and my colleagues at Ward’s are giddy when they say I must be the only person in America to have gotten one – in a Toyota Prius.

Go ahead, have a laugh at my expense.

The irony is that the months of October and November bring to the Ward’s office a bumper crop of high-powered vehicles to evaluate for 10 Best Engines and for the North American Car and Truck of the Year. Our own Bill Visnic is a juror for the latter competition.

I had driven (hard, in many cases) the new Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, BMW M3, Audi S4 Avant, Subaru WRX STi and even a Porsche 911 Carrera S.

Judge Tom Murphy got a speeding ticket – in a Prius – during Best Engines evaluations.

But it was my trip down Woodward Avenue in suburban Detroit that caught the attention of a police officer watching for speeders on a Sunday morning as I drove my wife and kids to church.

Mind you, I live near Woodward – close enough to smell burning rubber and hear screeching tires on any given summer night leading up to the Dream Cruise. It would be quieter if I lived next to Milan Raceway. Yet, I rarely see anyone in a muscle car getting pulled over for speeding.

I was so stunned to have been gunned down in a Prius that I forgot to plead for leniency with the officer and explain why I needed to drive down Woodward at 58 mph (93 km/h). After all, the car is so quiet, it’s easy to lose track of your speed. I took my ticket to church and prayed to Jesus for forgiveness. A sympathetic judge kept the points off my license.

The Prius isn’t bad, and it won a Best Engines award in 2004. This year, however, the hybrid competition was stiff. The judges liked the Honda Accord Hybrid more, although the virtuous “hybrid” moniker hardly fits a car with a 240-hp V-6.

I did give the Accord Hybrid extra points because it had fuel-saving cylinder deactivation. In fact, three other test vehicles featured the technology this year: the 3.5L V-6 in the Honda Odyssey, the 5.3L V-8 in the Chevy TrailBlazer and the award-winning 5.7L Hemi in the Chrysler 300C. Keep those fuel sippers coming, I say.

I personally scored the Ford Escape Hybrid higher than both the Prius and Accord Hybrid because I found its throttle response outstanding, and the practicality in an SUV deserves extra points.

And I didn’t get a ticket in it, either.

tmurphy@primediabusiness.com