With the Car and Driver Ten Best decided, the North American Car and Truck of the Year finalists announced and Cadillac, Ram and Subaru chalking up wins with Motor Trend, it's fair to say that the automotive awards season is in full swing. The next set of trophies to be handed out will be from Ward's Automotive, which has announced the winners of its 2014 10 Best Engines.

The latest contest was marked by the widespread emergence of diesel power and the continued success of turbocharged engines. There was even an electric motor on this year's list. In fact, only three of the ten winners were naturally aspirated and only two winners returned from last year.

"We weren't looking to throw the bums out, as they might say about an election. We were just really impressed with the flood of new powertrains," said Ward's Automotive Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter. Those new powertrains include the 83-kilowatt electric motor from the Fiat 500e, the 1.0-liter, EcoBoost three-cylinder from the Ford Fiesta and the 2.0-liter turbodiesel from the Chevrolet Cruze.

The carryovers from last year were Honda's 3.5-liter V6 from the Accord and Audi's excellent 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 from the S4 and S5. Other big names to make the list include the 3.0-liter, turbodiesel six-cylinders from the BMW 535d and Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, as well as the new 6.2-liter V8 from the seventh-generation Chevy Corvette Stingray. The Stingray and Cruze make Chevy the only brand to score two wins in this year's awards, although the Chrysler Group and Volkswagen Group had two awards among their sub-brands (Chrysler had Ram and Fiat, while VW Group had Audi and VW).

Scroll down for the entire press release from Ward's Automotive, which includes the complete list of winners as well as remarks on each engine.
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Diesels, Turbos Dominate 2014 Ward's 10 Best Engines

By Tom Murphy

Three diesels, a tiny 3-cyl. turbo and a battery-electric vehicle are among the 2014Ward's 10 Best Engines, illustrating the importance of fuel economy as automakers develop and market advanced new powertrains.

This is the 20th year for Ward's 10 Best Engines, a competition created to recognize outstanding powertrain achievement, world-class technologies and those rare engines or electric propulsion systems that are so compelling they help sell the vehicle.
The winners, which include eight engines using direct fuel injection and six with forced induction, emerged from a field of 44 powertrains evaluated by WardsAutoeditors in October and November.

To be eligible, a new or significantly improved engine or propulsion system must be on sale in a production vehicle during the first quarter of 2014. Base price is capped at $60,000, up from $55,000 last year.

This year's winners:

· 3.0L TFSI Supercharged DOHC V-6 (Audi S5)
· 3.0L Turbodiesel DOHC I-6 (BMW 535d)
· 3.0L Turbodiesel DOHC V-6 (Ram 1500 EcoDiesel)
· 83-kW Electric Motor (Fiat 500e)
· 1.0L EcoBoost DOHC I-3 (Ford Fiesta)
· 2.0L Turbodiesel DOHC I-4 (Chevrolet Cruze Diesel)
· 6.2L OHV V-8 (Chevrolet Corvette Stingray)
· 3.5L SOHC V-6 (Honda Accord)
· 2.7L DOHC H-6 boxer (Porsche Cayman)
· 1.8L Turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Volkswagen Jetta)

The Ward's 10 Best Engines competition pits the latest engines available in the U.S. market against the returning winners from the previous year. Usually, at least four engines that won the prior year return to the winner's circle. This year, only two are returning winners: Honda's 3.5L V-6 and Audi's 3.0L supercharged V-6.

"We weren't looking to throw the bums out, as they might say about an election. We were just really impressed with a flood of new powertrains," says WardsAuto WorldEditor-in-Chief Drew Winter. "What was great yesterday might be less impressive tomorrow because engine technology is changing so rapidly."

The arrival of six advanced diesel engines in multiple vehicle segments shook up the competition as all six scored well in the evaluations. This is the first time more than two diesels have made the list in a single year. The biggest decline this year comes in 4-cyl. engines, as only two make the cut. Last year, there were five.

Audi secures its fifth consecutive Ward's 10 Best Engines trophy for its 333-hp 3.0L supercharged V-6 tested in the S5 but also appearing in several other Audi luxury cars and CUVs.

Several new 6-cyl. engines have entered the market within the past five years, but few can match the Audi's brute strength, luscious torque and supreme refinement.
The last powerplant to rack up five straight Ward's 10 Best Engines trophies was Audi's 2.0L turbocharged I-4 in the A4, which was honored from 2006 to 2010.

BMW, the most recognized automaker with 30 trips to the 10 Best Engines podium over the past 20 years, returns with an amazingly quiet 3.0L turbodiesel inline 6-cyl. driven in the 535d sedan but also appearing in the X5 CUV.

An earlier version of this diesel made the list in 2009 and 2010, but it has been re-engineered. The engine previously had two turbochargers, which have been replaced by a single variable-geometry turbocharger, resulting in slightly less power but significantly better fuel economy.

The torque peak of 413 lb.-ft. (560 Nm) arrives earlier now – at 1,500 rpm, virtually eliminating turbo lag. On the fuel-economy front, the 535d outperforms even some of the 4-cyl. diesels considered, topping 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km) during some test drives. That's better than the mileage we got with the earlier 3.0L diesel in the smaller 3-Series that won four years ago.
Another diesel making the list has been long overdue. The 3.0L V-6, sourced from Fiat-owned VM Motori in Italy for the Ram 1500, is the first modern light-duty diesel engine for a fullsize pickup. The engine also appears in the new Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV.

Ideally mated with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, the 3.0L turbodiesel goes about its business with little effort or humdrum and propels the 6,000-lb. (2,722-kg) truck with ease.

Some WardsAuto editors achieved better than 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km) in mixed driving, which is remarkable in a truck this large. Count on the Ram 1500 to deliver even better fuel economy during steady highway driving. The EPA numbers are not yet available for the Ram diesel.
At the other end of the spectrum is the 500e electric city car, a first-time Ward's 10 Best Engines honor for the Fiat brand.

The 83-kW electric motor, fueled by a 24-kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, delivers 147 lb.-ft. (200 Nm) of torque at step-off, sending the 3,000-lb. (1,361-kg) 500e from the chute like a pinball. The car repeatedly charged to 85 miles (137 km) of range, as advertised, but it consistently outperformed its indicated range.

Several EVs have been evaluated in recent years, but the 500e feels lighter, keeps up with highway traffic more capably, is loads of fun to drive and is reasonably affordable ($33,095 sticker). Supplier Bosch contributed extensive engineering to the powertrain.

For now, the 500e is available only in California, where incentives reduce the price. But a spike in fuel prices might have the rest of the country clamoring for it.

Ford manages to be the first automaker ever to win a Ward's 10 Best Engines trophy for a 3-cyl. engine, a tiny 1.0L powerplant with a cast-iron block small and light enough to fit in the overhead bin of a commercial jet.

The latest member of Ford's EcoBoost turbocharged direct-injected gasoline engine family is found now in the Fiesta subcompact with a base price of $16,050 and a highway fuel-economy rating of 45 mpg (5.2 L/100 km) with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Some WardsAuto editors report real-world mileage better than 37 mpg (6.3 L/100 km) in mixed suburban driving.

The 1.0L EcoBoost represents a technological achievement as well: Clever engineering allows the engine to function without a balance shaft. Instead, the flywheel and crank pulley are offset to counteract the odd firing sequence, which creates certain vibration challenges in a 3-cyl. engine.

The third diesel to make the list is General Motors' 2.0L 4-cyl. that makes the Chevrolet Cruze compact car a bona fide hybrid fighter while standing toe-to-toe with 4-cyl. diesels in German luxury cars that cost twice the price.

The only demerit comes for a slight grumble at low speed and idle, which is easily forgiven when the neck-snapping torque thrusts the Cruze onto the highway entrance ramp.
Test drives earlier in the year by WardsAuto editors confirmed the Cruze diesel can exceed its 46 mpg (5.1 L/100 km) highway fuel-economy rating.

During 10 Best Engines evaluations this fall, seven editors drove the Cruze around metro Detroit in short-route commuting and averaged nearly 37 mpg (6.3 L/100 km), besting a 2.1L 4-cyl. in the heavier luxury Mercedes E250 and running neck-and-neck with the 2.0L 4-cyl. in the BMW 328d. Unlike the German cars, the Cruze Diesel stickers just over $28,000.

For the first time since 2008, GM has two engines on the list. The second needs little introduction: the 90-degree small-block V-8 that has been in production since 1955 in race cars and production cars and trucks.

The clean-sheet fifth-generation small-block maintains the pushrod legacy while integrating a host of new technologies, such as direct injection and standard cylinder deactivation (marketed as Active Fuel Management), which work in tandem to deliver outstanding real-world fuel economy.

WardsAuto recognizes the 460-hp LT1 6.2L V-8 in the ferocious Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and finds its cousin, the L86 6.2L EcoTec3 V-8 in the GMC Sierra Denali, to be the most compelling of the three small-block truck engines.

The 6.2L engines share blocks, cylinder heads, crankshafts and other hardware but require unique intake, exhaust and lubrication systems and tuning.

Honda has a repeat winner, the Accord's 3.5L SOHC V-6, which has been a favorite of Ward's 10 Best Engines judges over the years.

This unflappable V-6 is the best naturally aspirated 6-cyl. engine in a mainstream vehicle at a time when most automakers are switching instead to turbocharged direct-injected 4-cyl. powerplants for better fuel efficiency.

Even using conventional port fuel injection, Honda's 3.5L V-6 beats most turbo-4s by routinely delivering 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) during our evaluations, same as it did last year, thanks in part to cylinder deactivation.

This latest award represents the 3.5L engine's fifth trophy since 2005. Include earlier awards when the engine displaced 3.0L, and this SOHC architecture has earned eight trophies since 2003.

Porsche returns to the Ward's 10 Best Engines list after an 11-year hiatus, dazzling the judges with a 2.7L mid-mounted DOHC boxer that feels a lot more powerful than its rated 275 hp and 213 lb.-ft. (289 Nm) of torque in the Cayman 2-seat coupe.

Tipping the scales at a mere 2,888 lbs. (1,310 kg), the rear-wheel-drive Cayman begs to be driven hard and sounds spectacular in the process.

Nonetheless, WardsAuto editors routinely returned an impressive 23 mpg (10.2 L/100 km) thanks to the use of direct injection, stop/start, VarioCam Plus variable valve timing and lift on the intake camshafts and the ability to coast while consuming minimal fuel.

This is Porsche's fourth Ward's 10 Best Engines trophy. The automaker's last award came in 2002 for an earlier version of the 2.7L flat-6 in the Boxster.

Volkswagen wins its ninth Ward's 10 Best Engines award for its 1.8L turbocharged 4-cyl., which springs from the automaker's all-new third-generation EA888 engine family.

In the affordably priced Jetta, the 1.8L is quiet, efficient and a riot to drive in sport mode, happily popping off the line even with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Several editors logged close to 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km) in mixed driving, thanks in part to a subtle stop/start system, and the EPA says 36 mpg (6.5 L/100 km) is possible on the highway.

There are several excellent 4-cyl. turbocharged engines in the U.S. market, but VW's re-engineered 1.8L represents the new benchmark.

Eight WardsAuto editors chose the winners after spending October and November evaluating 44 new or significantly upgraded engines in their routine daily commutes around metro Detroit.
Editors score each engine based on power, torque, technology, observed fuel economy, relative competitiveness and noise, vibration and harshness characteristics.

The awards will be presented at a Jan. 15 ceremony in Detroit during the North American International Auto Show.

Please visit WardsAuto.com in the coming weeks, as well as the January issue ofWardsAuto World digital magazine, for additional commentary, profiles of the winning engines, videos and more information about the 2014 Ward's 10 Best Engines.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      malgu
      • 1 Year Ago
      I drove the Cruze Diesel and it was considerably louder than the standard Cruze.. I thought the "rattle" and crudeness was gone, guess not. Much rather prefer a standard Cruze gas turbo.
      Sumer54
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mostly small engines and no engines from Toyota/Lexus, Nissan/Infiniti, Mazda, and only one from Honda. WOW!
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Sumer54
        No Skyactiv marketing crap either! Japanese on the down?
      Phil
      • 1 Year Ago
      I find the Wards list the most useless and ridiculous of all. They don't explain their methodology beyond reading a few brochure specs and basing their choices off of that. They do absolutely no independent quantitative testing of their own.
        Stomp and steer
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Phil
        If you bother to read the article. It states that they drive all the cars. Sounds like someone is butt hurt about their favorite engine not making the cut......
          Stomp and steer
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Stomp and steer
          Oh I see, they should buy the cars remove the engines take them apart put them back together then dyno them........ My bad.
      Arizonarelax
      • 1 Year Ago
      I heard they are going to start a Wards list for the best paint color next year followed by the best valve stem adaptation. This is ridiculous.
      AdamVIP
      • 1 Year Ago
      Driving a car is not the way to pick the best engine. There are a lot of systems in a car working together. How can you single out an engine out of that. They talk fuel economy but that's more dependent on the things around the engine than the engine. This test should be engines pulled from production cars, dyno'ed, dissected and reviewed. That would be the way to pick the best engine.
        flammablewater
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AdamVIP
        But then you couldn't just drive a car for a few minutes, throw out a baseless verdict and call it a day. You'd need actual knowledge of engineering and a test facility; they don't have that.
          cgm9999
          • 1 Year Ago
          @flammablewater
          If anything, you just made an argument against Ward's creating a "Best Engine" list. If they're not qualified to do what it takes to accurately judge engines, then they shouldn't be doing so.
          flammablewater
          • 1 Year Ago
          @flammablewater
          It would be like saying a random car has the most comfortable seats, but in reality it just has a really cushy suspension that you weren't even reviewing.
          flammablewater
          • 1 Year Ago
          @flammablewater
          Exactly. It's all based on manufacturer released specs and short driving impressions. You can rate how the engine is matched to a car with regards to transmission quality, gear ratios, vibration isolation, noise etc. but you can't actually rate the engine.
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      I question the inclusion of the Cruze diesel mill. This engine uses a timing belt, which hardly anybody else uses any more. It uses urea, which the Mazda skyactiv diesel doesn\'t need. The torque figure maybe impressive but every review says it is slow off the line because it has some kind of idiotic anti-spin mode in first gear. And it also breaks no new ground with respect to fuel economy, when compared to the Passat or Jetta TDI.
        OnTheRocks
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        I'll take a timing belt over Audi's bass ackwards designs. They mount their several timing chains and the myriad of plastic chain guides at the rear of the engine, at the firewall. If the chains stretch or the tensioners/guides need to be replaced, step 1 of the repair process is basically "Remove Engine". Next step is probably "Replace Engine" because the valves have already smacked the pistons. For fun, google image search "Audi RS4 timing chain" and laugh.
          Cyrus Brooks
          • 1 Year Ago
          @OnTheRocks
          I googled Audi RS4 timing chain. Yikes! German engineering.... Lol. Its almost as if VAG is trying think of ways to empty their customers wallets. Sometimes simpler is better.
          Zcd1
          • 1 Year Ago
          @OnTheRocks
          Very impressive - indicting the entire brand based on one version engine. (sarcasm). So Toyota sucks, too, because of engine oil sludging problems (which BTW affected MILLIONS rather than 10s of thousands of vehicles)? And BMW, because of high-pressure fuel pumps? Seriously, try a little perspective - it would help.
      bonehead
      • 1 Year Ago
      Its a real shame that the Toyota 3.5L v6 and especially Hondas 3.5L 6 are not available in any desirable cars. Just put them in a small MR2 replacement or in a light weight S2000 replacement. I see what a wonderful car the Lotus Evora is and i cant help but think that is what a modern day MR2 should be only at 1/2 the price. But id rather see this from honda than toyota.
      Alex
      • 1 Year Ago
      The fact that they listed an electric motor on a ten best engines list makes me question the validity of this. It's no different than putting an apple on the list of the ten best oranges, just because they are all fruit doesnt mean it makes sense.
        Hazdaz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alex
        People are familiar with the term engine, when dealing with cars. Its the same line of thinking that is used when converting an EV's cost to run into eMPG... people can relate to the term seeing as how gasoline (and diesel) engines have been the norm in this industry for around 100 years.
        flammablewater
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alex
        I'm confused why they picked the Fiat EV and not the 400ftLb of hilarity in the Chevy Spark EV.
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      This doesn't make sense to me. GM/VM Motori Cruze Diesel isn't that great. The 535d is nothing great either, especially for BMW. BMW's N28 should be there. Probably GM's 3.6TT should be there. Personally, I don't see what's special about Honda's 3.5L V6. These guys couldn't tell it apart in a blind test from a Camry V6 and probably not even from a Nissan VQ. Choosing FIAT's electric motor is essentially arbitrary, it's not even the most powerful, torquey or efficient. And I look forward to the day when these supposed "car guys" understand how range works on electric cars. The FIAT doesn't consistently exceed its range, it only does so when you drive at low-speeds, just like any other EV.
        May
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        535d is nothing great? 0-60 in 6,5s, tons of torque and 37 mpg combined. It is great.
      williemrobsr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Did you know that Audi and Volkswagen engines fail more then any motor in the UK and they are very unreliable ,when this panel vote on these so called best engines do they do any research on them . I think it's all show and no go, so to all of us car lovers and shoppers out there do you own research and I stopped listening to these so called (Auto Experts) long time ago. I think some of them must get paid by these car companies ,just my opinion.
        Zcd1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @williemrobsr
        Did you know that your comments don't in any way represent reality?
      Viktor Mihaylov
      • 1 Year Ago
      European cars suck . They are not reliable . They will brake the bank to reaper too. That's why BMW are mostly leased . Never owned . Audi is a big lemon to own too ! Buy a Honda or Acura or Lexus and you will thank me . 23 Years Licenced Mechanic .
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Viktor Mihaylov
        No one wants thier parent's 150 horsepower weakling, 4-cylinder engine. Japanese may be dependable but nothing has changed in the last decade except for Toyota using lighter weight 0w20.
      Spies1
      • 1 Year Ago
      I expected to see the new Honda Accord Hybrid on the list. Perhaps it was not on sale soon enough for their testing.
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