Say hello to our old friend, the Nissan VQ, which set a record with 14 consecutive Ward’s 10 Best Engines wins from 1995 to 2008. WardsAuto company lore says it was the buttery, free-wheeling smoothness of the original 3.0L DOHC V-6, making 190 hp, that prompted the creation of this competition to honor such excellence.

Much has changed since that engine put all other V-6s on notice. For instance, naturally aspirated V-6s have gone AWOL as automakers seem enthralled with high-output turbocharged 4-bangers, often paired with direct injection, to take the place of the grunty V-6.

This strategy only makes sense if the 4-cyl. can deliver better fuel efficiency than the 6-cyl. In some cases, a smooth, efficient, potent naturally aspirated V-6 trumps a boosted 4-banger, because turbochargers are thirsty for fuel.

Such is the case with Honda’s excellent SOHC 3.5L, having won eight 10 Best Engines trophies between 2003 and 2014, when it was capable of a whopping 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) during our testing.

I wrote a column last year bemoaning the waning availability of naturally aspirated 6-cyl. engines, which had been a powertrain staple in big sedans and luxury cars for many years.

Our prayers are answered, as Nissan’s redesigned VQ will face off squarely against three other significantly improved naturally aspirated V-6s – Fiat Chrysler’s 3.6L Pentastar coming in the ’16 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota’s 3.5L in the new Lexus RX and Toyota Tacoma pickup and the 3.6L High-Feature mill from General Motors, now seeing duty in the ’16 Cadillac ATS.

See attached specs of Nissan’s VQ and the last 3.5L Honda V-6 that earned a trophy. The Honda engine is not eligible this year, but it remains a benchmark for refinement and performance.

A separate spec sheet will compare the VQ with the new V-6s from GM, FCA and Toyota. Curiously, of all these engines discussed, only the Cadillac 3.6L solely uses direct fuel injection. Nissan, Chrysler and Honda stick with tried-and-true port injection for cost and other reasons, while Toyota’s 3.5L powerplant employs both direct- and port fuel injection.