Laying claim to its fourth-consecutive slot on the Ward's 10 Best Engines roster, Toyota Motor Corp.'s 3.5L Lexus V-6 once again emerges as the engine to beat among a field of excellent V-6 competitors.

With a delectable balance of power, grace and technology, the engine powering the Lexus IS 350 is a favorite of several judges and impresses all with its class-leading horsepower, torque and fuel economy.

Not much can be said about this engine without directing attention to its unique fuel-injection system, comprised of separate port- and direct-gasoline-injection circuits.

Criticized by some judges as an over-engineered, “belt-and-suspenders” approach, the dual-stage fuel system improves all-around performance by taking advantage of the strengths of each technology.

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s larger VQ 3.7L DOHC V-6, for example, easily trumps the Lexus in top-end power without DIG, yet trails it in terms of torque output and observed fuel economy.

Even Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s 3.5L SOHC V-6 and General Motors Corp.'s 3.6L DOHC V-6, both of which make a return to 10 Best Engines status, lag the Toyota mill in overall flexibility and outright power delivery.

Engine type: 3.5L DOHC 60° V-6

Displacement (cc): 3,456

Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 94 × 83

Horsepower (SAE net): 306 @ 6,400 rpm

Torque: 277 lb.-ft. (376 Nm) @ 4,800 rpm

Specific output: 87 hp/L

Compression ratio: 11.8:1

Assembly site: Kamiga, Japan

Application tested: Lexus IS 350

EPA city/highway (mpg): 18/25