Ward’s enters its second decade of the 10 Best Engines awards with one of the largest groups of nominated engines since the award program began in 1995: The six 10 Best Engines editor-judges nominated 36 engines for this year’s competition.

More importantly, among 2005’s winners, a discernible “theme” emerged: Fuel-saving technology is a key design priority for four of the 10 winners. Cylinder deactivation is featured on two winners; direct gasoline injection, hybridization and diesel also are represented.

Nothing has changed regarding the 10 Best Engines competition itself. Nominated engines must be available in regular-production vehicles on sale in the U.S. market no later than the first quarter of the new calendar year (in this case, 2005). An eligible engine must be available in a vehicle with a base price no more than $52,500 – 5% more than the original $50,000 ceiling in 1995.

The six-editor Ward’s judging panel evaluates each engine and assigns scores based on a variety of subjective and objective categories. Each engine competes against all others; the engines with the top 10 aggregate scores are winners.

Ward’s believes this process recognizes winning engines that have some degree of volume-market relevance (thus the price cap), while the head-to-head format delivers winners that deserve to be called the best, largely independent of vehicle or market segmentation.

bvisnic@primediabusiness.com