SOUTHFIELD, MI â€“ Amid plummeting vehicle sales, thousands of job losses, an economy officially in recession and pleas for federal assistance, a handful of auto makers have cause to celebrate.
Wardâ€™s Automotive Group announces its 2009 10 Best Engines list, which reflects the diversity of powertrains that will play a role in reshaping Americaâ€™s automotive landscape.
Selected by Wardâ€™s editors, the 2009 list marks the 15th year for the Wardâ€™s 10 Best Engines program, the North American auto industryâ€™s only awards honoring powertrain excellence and considered by many to be the â€śOscarsâ€ť for automotive engines.
The Wardâ€™s 10 Best Engines for 2009 (engine and tested vehicle):
- Audi AG: 2.0L TFSI turbocharged DOHC I-4 (A4 Avant)
- BMW AG: 3.0L turbocharged DOHC I-6 (135i Coupe)
- BMW AG: 3.0L DOHC I-6 Turbodiesel (335d)
- LLC: 5.7L Hemi OHV V-8 (Dodge Ram/Challenger R/T)
- Motor Co.: 2.5L DOHC I-4 HEV (Escape Hybrid)
- Corp.: 3.6L DOHC V-6 (Cadillac CTS)
- Honda Motor Co. Ltd.: 3.5L SOHC V-6 (Accord Coupe)
- Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd.: 4.6L DOHC V-8 (Genesis)
- Toyota Motor Corp.: 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Lexus IS 350)
- Volkswagen AG: 2.0L SOHC I-4 Turbodiesel (Jetta TDI)
â€śA decade ago, few consumers in the U.S. paid serious attention to hybrids or diesels. This year, they have to, if they donâ€™t want to be pinched the next time fuel hits $4 a gallon,â€ť says Tom Murphy, executive editor of Wardâ€™s AutoWorld magazine.â€ťThe diesels from VW andand the Escape Hybrid all got better than 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km) during our testing, and often they topped 40 mpg (5.8 L/100 km),â€ť he says. â€śAnd the diesels meet the strictest emissions regulations in the world. If Americans want to find a vehicle that consumes less fuel and is fun to drive, our list is a great place to start.â€ť
Among the winners is Ford Motor Co.â€™s redesigned 2.5L 4-cyl. hybrid-electric powertrain, which motivated President and CEO Alan Mulallyâ€™s Escape Hybrid cross/utility vehicle to and from Washington D.C. for federal-aid talks, makes the cut.
During Wardâ€™s testing, the front-wheel-drive HEV managed to easily surpass the federal fuel-economy rating of 34/31 city/highway mpg (6.9-7.5 L/100 km).
AGâ€™s new 3.0L inline 6-cyl. turbodiesel scores a slot on the list in its first year available in the U.S. Joined by the auto makerâ€™s twin-turbocharged and direct-injected gasoline I-6 engine, which returns for the third year, the diesel employs a sequential twin-turbocharger system that provides the 335d sedan with impressive fuel economy and a stunning 425 lb.-ft. (576 Nm) of torque.
AG joins the clean-diesel party this year, as well, with its new 2.0L 4-cyl. turbodiesel powering the Jetta TDI sedan. Fun to drive and frugal at the pump, the TDI is an affordable and entertaining alternative to many larger gasoline and hybrid-electric powertrains.
Motor Co. Ltd. appears for the first time on Wardâ€™s 10 Best Engines list with its all-new Tau 4.6L DOHC V-8. Introduced in the new Genesis luxury sedan, the engineâ€™s velvety power delivery, competitive performance and attainable price epitomize the Korean auto makerâ€™s drive for world-class engineering.
LLCâ€™s venerable 5.7L Hemi V-8 returns to the rankings with added refinement, power and variable-valvetrain and induction technology. Its guttural roar and low-end grunt serves double duty this year in the all-new Dodge Challenger R/T and Ram pickup.
Motor Corp. scores its fourth consecutive 10 Best Engines win with its Lexus 3.5L DOHC V-6, a brilliant design that employs a unique, combination direct- and port-injection fueling system that helps generate 306 hp and 277 lb.-ft. (376 Nm) of torque.
Corp. and Motor Co. Ltd. also make return appearances with their high-volume V-6 engines exemplifying practicality balanced with precision engineering.
GMâ€™s high-feature 3.6L V-6 with direct-gasoline injection returns for the second time. Tested in the Cadillac CTS, yet flexible enough to proliferate through the auto makerâ€™s CUVs, the advanced V-6 makes a hardy 304 hp on regular gasoline.
underscores its longstanding reputation for great engines with the encore performance of its 3.5L SOHC V-6 in the Accord lineup. Merging exceptional performance with reasonable fuel economy, the engine employs advanced cylinder deactivation in the sedan and engaging power delivery in the coupe.
Audi AGâ€™s 2.0L TFSI turbocharged 4-cyl., freshly revamped with 211 hp and a mighty 258 lb.-ft. (350 Nm) of torque for the all-new A4, rounds out the list with a fourth-consecutive 10 Best Engines placing as one of the best all-around turbo-4s on the market.
This year, six Wardâ€™s editors nominated 32 different engines for the Wardâ€™s 10 Best Engines competition. The nominee list consists of the 2008 winners as well as all-new or significantly improved engines.
Over a nearly 2-month period, the editors evaluated and scored each engine against all others in a number of objective and subjective parameters. Each engine must be available in a regular-production U.S.-specification model on sale no later than first-quarter 2009, in a vehicle priced no more than $54,000, a price cap indexed to the average cost of a new vehicle.
The awards will be given at a Jan. 14 ceremony in Detroit during the North American International Auto Show.
Complete stories about the 10 Best Engines will be featured soon on WardsAuto.com and in upcoming issues of Wardâ€™s AutoWorld magazine and Wardâ€™s Engine & Vehicle Technology Update newsletter.
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.