Special Report

Ward’s 10 Best Engines


A concise pro-and-con review of every engine evaluated for 2009, with nothing left on the table.



Audi AG

2.0L I-4 turbo – A4

  • + David to V-6 Goliaths
  • Where to next, Audi?
  • = The model to follow

BMW AG

3.0L I-6 turbodiesel – 335d

  • + The Anti-Hybrid
  • Pricey diesel fuel
  • = Diesel’s best emissary

3.0L I-6 turbo – 135i

  • + Big power, no lag, tons of fun
  • Hard not to redline in every gear
  • = One of the best ever. Period

Chrysler LLC

5.7L Hemi V-8 – Ram/Challenger R/T

  • + Multi-talented muscle
  • If Chrysler dies, so does Hemi
  • = Decadence has its place

5.7L V-8 – Chrysler Aspen Hybrid

  • + Yea, it’s got a Hemi
  • Why not a V-6 2-Mode?
  • = We hardly knew ’ya

Daimler AG

3.0L V-6 turbodiesel – Mercedes R320

  • + Ideal grunt for big CUVs
  • Lazy throttle response
  • = BMW diesel spoiled the honeymoon

Ford Motor Co.

2.5L I-4 – Escape

  • + Serves a small trucklet well
  • Too thrashy
  • = Where’s the mute button?

2.5L I-4 HEV – Escape Hybrid

  • + 46 mpg not that difficult
  • NVH can be improved
  • = Eco-friendliness, without dorkiness

3.0L V-6 – Escape

  • + Nothing lame about 80 hp/L
  • Wait, which Escape was this?
  • = EcoBoost me, please

4.6L V-8 – Mustang Bullitt

  • + Steve McQueen would dig it
  • Where’s the beef?
  • = Great bark, needs more bite

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.

2.5L H-4 turbo – Subaru WRX STI

  • + Classic boxer growl, turbo power
  • Daily commutes aren’t rally stages
  • = Another candidate for direct injection

General Motors Corp.

2.2L I-4 – Chevrolet Cobalt XFE

  • + Decent way to move small cars
  • Didn’t even get 30 mpg
  • = This is extreme fuel economy?

2.8L V-6 turbo – Turbo X

  • + Sweet, smooth boost aplenty
  • Overpriced and too thirsty
  • = A good turbo-4 works just as well

3.6L V-6 – CTS

  • + Balanced, powerful and flexible
  • Can GM afford upgrades?
  • = Deceptively effective

3.6L HEV – Vue 2-Mode

  • + Tons of power for a hybrid
  • Is this what America wants?
  • = Performance HEVs a hard sell

6.0L V-8 HEV – GMC Yukon 2-Mode

  • + Seamless operation in big SUV
  • Price too high for 18 mpg
  • = Superb engineering for questionable cause

Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

1.5L I-4 – Fit

  • + Nifty for the thrifty
  • Careful in the fast lane
  • = Fine argument against hybrids

3.5L V-6 – Accord Coupe

  • + Ain’t no secretary’s car
  • A little soft near redline
  • = Loads of fun, yet practical

3.7L V-6 – Acura TL SH-AWD

  • + 82 hp/L not too shabby
  • Shoulda had a V-8
  • = More bored than stroked

Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd.

2.4L I-4 – Sonata

  • + Has potential to be better
  • We’re waiting…
  • = The plight of the World Engine

3.8L V-6 – Genesis

  • + Solid all-rounder
  • Annoyingly average
    = Flying coach in first-class field

4.6L V-8 – Genesis

  • + Purrs, then pounces
  • Volumes shamefully low
  • = Welcome to the big leagues, H

Mazda Motor Corp.

2.3L I-4 turbo – Mazdaspeed3

  • + Corruptively powerful
  • Runs out of steam at high revs
  • = The future of muscle cars

2.5L I-4 – Mazda6

  • + Delightfully peppy, fuel efficient
  • A tad too pedestrian
  • = Great I-4 workhorse

Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

2.0L I-4 turbo – Evo X

  • + Firecracker power surge
  • Turbo spools up at glacial pace
  • = Awesome, for about 15 minutes

2.4L I-4 – Lancer GTS

  • + Fun to thrash
  • Doesn’t reward with much
  • = Not that impressive

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

3.7L V-6 – Infiniti G37S

  • + Fast-revving, hot-rod gusto
  • Needs to attend NVH charm school
  • = Come back and see us next year

Suzuki Motor Corp.

2.4L I-4 – Grand Vitara

  • + Simple can be best
  • More noise than motivation
  • = Merely adequate

Toyota Motor Corp.

1.8L I-4 – Corolla

  • + It’s about efficiency, not power
  • Point A, meet Point B
  • = Maybe GM still has a chance

2.7L I-4 – Highlander

  • + Decent alternative to small V-6
  • Hardly gets the blood flowing
  • = A smart play by Toyota

3.5L V-6 – Lexus IS 350

  • + Swiss-clock precision, superb powerband
  • Needs vocal lessons
  • = Technology tour de force

Volkswagen AG

2.0L I-4 turbodiesel – Jetta TDI

  • + Urea aftertreatment unnecessary
  • Took 12 years for TDI to return to list
  • = A great deal, even without $1,300 credit



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.