SOUTHFIELD, MI – 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.
Ward’s Automotive Group announces its 2009 10 Best Engines list, which reflects the diversity of powertrains that will play a role in reshaping America’s automotive landscape.
Selected by Ward’s editors, the 2009 list marks the 15th year for the Ward’s 10 Best Engines program, the North American auto industry’s only awards honoring powertrain excellence and considered by many to be the “Oscars” for automotive engines.
The Ward’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)
“A decade ago, few consumers in the U.S. paid serious attention to hybrids or diesels. This year, they have to, if they don’t want to be pinched the next time fuel hits $4 a gallon,” says Tom Murphy, executive editor of Ward’s AutoWorld magazine.”The 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),” he says. “And 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.”
Among the winners is Ford Motor Co.’s redesigned 2.5L 4-cyl. hybrid-electric powertrain, which motivated President and CEO Alan Mulally’s Escape Hybrid cross/utility vehicle to and from Washington D.C. for federal-aid talks, makes the cut.
During Ward’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).
AG’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 maker’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 Ward’s 10 Best Engines list with its all-new Tau 4.6L DOHC V-8. Introduced in the new Genesis luxury sedan, the engine’s velvety power delivery, competitive performance and attainable price epitomize the Korean auto maker’s drive for world-class engineering.
LLC’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.
GM’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 maker’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 AG’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 Ward’s editors nominated 32 different engines for the Ward’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 Ward’s AutoWorld magazine and Ward’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.