Audi 2.8L DOHC V-6 (A6) 190 hp, 200 hp; 207 ft.-lbs. Assets: Finally gets 5-valve head; gives up the revs. Debits: Performance still disappoints. The Bottom Line: Fun, but needs more gumption.

BMW 4.4L DOHC V-8 (540i) 282 hp; 310 ft.-lbs. Assets: Cracking power; available with a manual. Debits: BMW's jacked the price over our cap. The Bottom Line: The driveline all other automakers wish they could clone.

BMW 3.2L DOHC I-6 (M3) 240 hp; 236 ft.-lbs. Assets: Heady performance with inline litheness. Debits: We don't get Europe's nasty 321-hp version. The Bottom Line: Thinking man's hotrod.

BMW 2.5L I-6 (323i) 168 hp; 181 ft.-lbs. Assets: Most affordable BMW six in years. Debits: If there are any, we can't name 'em. The Bottom Line: Pray BMW never abandons its inlines.

Chrysler 2.7L DOHC V-6 (Intrepid) 200 hp; 188 ft.-lbs. Assets: Snappy throttle response, great specific output Debits: Pedestrian sounds, middling performance in big cars The Bottom Line: Decent, but hardly world-class.

Chrysler 3.2L SOHC V-6 (Intrepid ES) 220 hp; 222 ft.-lbs. Assets: Drags Chrysler Powertrain into the '90s. Debits: Trouble is, the '90s are almost over. The Bottom Line: Proof computers can't account for soul.

Ford 2L DOHC I-4 (Escort ZX2) 130 hp; 127 ft.-lbs. Assets: Ford's first U.S. variable-valve-timed engine. Debits: Variable-valve advantages are well-hidden. The Bottom Line: Raucous, but better than most low-end engines.

Ford 2.5L DOHC High Output V-6 (Contour SVT) 195 hp; 165 ft.-lbs. Assets: Delicious exhaust tones, solid specific output. Debits: Not shy about its thirst. The Bottom Line: Near perfect - and a bargain to boot.

Ford 4.6L High Output DOHC V-8 (Mustang Cobra) 305 hp; 300 ft.-lbs. Assets: Muscly demeanor, contemporary technology. Debits: Tricky to appreciate with ancient Mustang chassis. The Bottom Line: Convincing modern muscle-car engine.

Ford 5.4L SOHC V-8 (F-150) 235 hp; 330 ft.-lbs. Assets: Cutting-edge (for trucks), world-class NVH. Debits: Just 235 hp from this much motor? The Bottom Line: As good as it gets in trucks - at least for now.

General Motors 3.8L supercharged OHV V-6 (Buick Park Avenue) 240 hp; 280 ft.-lbs. Assets: Low-end torque overhead-cammers can't hope to match. Debits: Competitiveness with OHC designs is waning. The Bottom Line: Barely nudged out of this year's 10 Best.

General Motors 4.6L DOHC V-8 (Seville STS) 275 hp, 300 hp; 295 ft.-lbs., 300 ft.-lbs. Assets: Storming power, faultless refinement. Debits: Solid numbers but oddly uncharismatic. The Bottom Line: A superb engine crying out for a rear-drive chassis.

General Motors 5.7L OHV V-8 (Corvette) 305 hp, 320 hp, 345 hp; 335 ft.-lbs., 350 ft.-lbs. Assets: Thunderous torque, supercar performance. Debits: Justifying old-tech to your import-owning neighbors. The Bottom Line: Delivers the goods.

Honda 1.8L VTEC I-4 (Integra Type R) 195 hp; 130 ft.-lbs. Assets: Grabbing the 8,300-rpm redline . Debits: Wheezy torque means you're grabbing often. The Bottom Line: The definition of "niche appeal."

Honda 2.2L VTEC I-4 (Prelude SH) 195 hp; 156 ft.-lbs. Assets: Sweet sounds, uplifting top-end grunt. Debits: Reserved only for the low-volume Prelude. The Bottom Line: Another example of a great engine in a vehicle nobody's buying.

Honda 2.3L VTEC I-4 (Accord) 135 hp, 148 hp, 150 hp; 145 ft.-lbs., 152 ft.-lbs. Assets: Supreme refinement, ULEV capable. Debits: Pretty lazy with an automatic. The Bottom Line: Technical achievements wasted on lemming buyers.

Honda 3L SOHC VTEC V-6 (Accord) 200 hp; 195 ft.-lbs. Assets: Uncannily smooth, great lungs. Debits: Doesn't do much below 3,500 rpm; needs a manual tranny. The Bottom Line: Sleepy low-rpm response masks true ability.

Mazda 2.3L DOHC Miller-cycle V-6 (Millenia S) 210 hp; 210 ft.-lbs. Assets: Superb refinement, astonishing power. Debits: Occasionally inconsistent power delivery. The Bottom Line: We'd give up press junkets for a Miller with a manual.

Mercedes-Benz 3.2L SOHC V-6 (CLK) 215 hp, 221 hp; 229 ft.-lbs., 233 ft.-lbs. Assets: Technically intriguing, can't quibble with performance. Debits: Did M-B's engineers compromise? The Bottom Line: Top-drawer by any measure.

Mercedes-Benz 3L DOHC turbodiesel I-6 174 hp; 244 ft.-lbs. Assets: Show us a diesel that hits 60 mph in 8.5 seconds. Debits: Economy gain isn't that demonstrable. The Bottom Line: We're waiting for direct injection.

Nissan 3L DOHC V-6 (Maxima) 190 hp; 205 ft.-lbs. Assets: Whippet-like revving, lovingly constructed, offered with a manual. Debits: The sheetmetal it moves. The Bottom Line: There's still nothing that revs like this.

Subaru 2.5L DOHC flat-4 165 hp; 162 ft.-lbs. Assets: Punchy power delivery, unbreakable feel. Debits: NVH not in step with the rest of the world. The Bottom Line: If only Subaru could calm the shakes.

Toyota 1.8L DOHC I-4 (Corolla) 120 hp; 122 ft.-lbs. Assets: No-fuss performance, outstanding NVH. Debits: Automatic tranny diminishes it all. The Bottom Line: So now we know: It's got 25% fewer parts.

Toyota 3L DOHC V-6 (Camry CE) 194 hp; 209 ft.-lbs. Assets: Solid performance, kudos to Toyota for offering a manual. Debits: It's tough to define, but ... The Bottom Line: Great numbers but little pizazz.

Toyota/Lexus 4L DOHC V-8 (GS400) 300 hp; 310 ft.-lbs. Assets: First continuously variable valve-timed V-8, punishing top-end power. Debits: Swills premium unleaded with the best of 'em. The Bottom Line: As the Brits say, "Stonking."

Volkswagen 1.8L DOHC turbocharged I-4 (Passat GLS) 150 hp; 155 ft.-lbs. Assets: Glorious midrange, performance belies displacement. Debits: Not as convincing when hooked to an autobox. The Bottom Line: The best base engine in any affordable midsizer.

Volkswagen 1.9L SOHC turbodiesel I-4 90 hp; 149 ft.-lbs. Assets: Unbelievable real-world economy, entertaining torque. Debits: Light on sheer horsepower. The Bottom Line: If only VW could get everyone to test-drive one.

Volvo 2.4L DOHC turbocharged I-5 190 hp; 199 ft.-lbs. Assets: Well-sorted driveability, good midrange urge. Debits: The high-pressure-turbo versions are more capable. The Bottom Line: One of the best turbo engines out there.