By on December 14, 2015

 

Three hybrid powertrains and three performance powertrains bookended Wards Auto’s top 10 engines, which was released last week.

The list included repeat winners such as the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel 3-liter six, Subaru’s turbo flat-four and Nissan’s veteran VQ 3.5-liter V-6. Appearing for the first time was BMW’s replacement for its N55 turbocharged, 3-liter straight six as well as General Motor’s LGX V-6 — which appears in several Cadillac models and in the new Chevrolet Camaro — with cylinder deactivation.

Volvo’s twin-charged 2-liter four and Ford’s famous flat-plane crank V-8 from the Shelby GT350 made the list for the first time in 2016. Volkswagen’s engines were excluded from consideration this year because of the company’s admission that its diesel engine cheated through emissions tests.

The list of winners, according to Wards:

• 3-liter Turbocharged DOHC I-6 (BMW 340i)
• 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 (Chevrolet Camaro/Cadillac ATS)
• 1.5-liter DOHC 4-cylinder/120-kW Drive Motor (Chevrolet Volt EREV)
• 5.2-liter DOHC V-8 (Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang)
• 2-liter DOHC 4-cylinder/50-kW Drive Motor (Hyundai Sonata PHEV)
• 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 (Nissan Maxima)
• 3-liter Turbodiesel DOHC V-6 (Ram 1500 EcoDiesel)
• 2-liter Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl. Boxer (Subaru WRX)
• 1.8-liter DOHC 4-cylinder/53-kW Drive Motor (Toyota Prius HEV)
• 2-liter Turbo/Supercharged DOHC 4 cylinder (Volvo XC90)

Aside from the aforementioned mills, Wards awarded the significantly improved Chevrolet Volt engine and all-new Toyota Prius engine among its 10 best. Both hybrid powertrains were lauded for their real-world mileage delivery and efficient power. Hyundai’s plug-in hybrid powertrain in its Sonata PHEV, which made its first appearance this year, made the list as well.

Subaru’s turbocharged FA engine, which appears in the WRX but not the WRX STI, is the other return winner for 2016 alongside Ram’s EcoDiesel — the only oil burner on the list.

Oh, and Volvo can add to their long list of awards after their turbocharged/supercharged 2-liter four was honored.

Notably absent from the list were any engines from Mazda, Honda’s 1.5-liter turbo from the Civic and Mercedes’ turbo four in the CLA/GLA.

Wards said they would consider engines such as Audi’s coming e-Tron, Volkswagen’s 1.4-liter TSI, Lincoln’s turbo 3-liter V-6 and Jaguar’s 2-liter diesel for next year’s competition.

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76 Comments on “Wards 10 Best Engines For 2016 is Equal Parts Performance, Parsimonious...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    True/false: By a wide margin, the oldest engine on that list is the VQ35.

    • 0 avatar
      rpol35

      Thought the exact same thing. It’s a derivative of the 3.0 which I think dates to the early ’90’s (at least).

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Good catch. How the hell did the VQ make the cut?

      In the Maxima, the 3.7 produces 300hp /261 lb.ft. and 22/30 MPG.

      The much heavier CTS with the new 3.6 produces 335hp /285 lb.ft. and gets 20/30 MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        They detune the VQ way down for Nissan use. Dislike.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        VoGo, the VQ engine with the award appears to be the VQ35DE, not one of the 3.7 liter variants. I liked the VQ35DE 15 years in the Pathfinder and 10 years ago in the G35, but even then that engine sounded rather coarse and consumed expensive premium gasoline at a higher rate than its peers. I’d buy a used car with a VQ35DE, but no way it belongs on a top 10 list today.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The V6 used by Cadillac is a POS. Just read the two long term tests performed by Automobile magazine on an ATS V6 and a CTS V-sport.

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        How do you buy a car from Nissan where the VQ isn’t on the table? Versa, Stanza, Titan? Last I looked they were at least willing to sell it (they’ve been doing so for so long I had to add the Versa. They’ve been doing this for that long).
        I’ll guess the 3l RAM engine goes in a few trucks.
        The GM 3.6l goes in at least 2 (and just 2 considering RWD issues).
        The rest are lucky to sold in one Model (like the Prius) or require a certain trim level of a specific model (like the Shelby Mustang).

        The difference is that Nissan is happy to sell you the VQ. Why won’t the other companies sell “the good stuff”.

    • 0 avatar

      When I saw that inclusion, I thought HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Wards likes terrible noises.

    • 0 avatar
      NotFast

      By picking that ancient Nissan (Datsun?) engine, they are assigning themselves to the same fate as JD Power (IE worthless).

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I got to ride in a Model T with one of Wards 10 best engines of the 20th Century over the weekend. I think it had better NVH characteristics than the VQ.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Cool as hell! I love Model Ts. Ride height, roof (if any) height and narrow tires that get through anything.

        The Model T is Me!

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          It was at Greenfield Village’s EXCELLENT Christmas event. They light the whole park up and make it look like a small town’s Christmas in the 1920s. There are literally hundreds of actors playing parts in the different houses and exhibits. They also have 15 or so Model Ts giving people rides and others all over the park. It’s a pretty awesome event.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Getting a ride in a Model T does sound awesome.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Wow, that sounds like something I’d freak over. I’d love to ride in a mid-’20s Runabout and Tudor.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I want to ride in a Packard!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            It’s not a cheap event. I think tickets were $35 a piece, but it’s well done. It’s worth it for the Model T rides and some of the reenactments. It would have been even cooler with a blanket of snow.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I think this is the one we got to ride in. If not, it was very similar.

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/1922_Ford_Model_T_Woody.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            This whole riding around in antique stuff could be very profitable for someone. I was pay well to take a short jaunt in something like a Packard, Cord, or Duesenberg and I don’t even have to be driving. Just to say I did this and get a picture would be worth it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            If anyplace could get away with it, I assume it would be Greenfield Village/The Henry Ford. They actually keep a bunch of antique cars running. They also have historic, old timey looking buildings everywhere (like Edison’s house and the Wright Brother’s shop). It would be cool if they had a couple of days in the spring or fall where collectors could drive people around Greenfield Village. I don’t know who loans their car out though. They own the Model Ts that are at the park.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I could see either a museum or a private individual being funny about who is allowed to drive their antiques. I could however see an approved/insured driver handling the vehicle and passengers simply taking short trips for cash and maybe getting a pic with the car after. Even better do it on a closed course or private road. There’s money to be made here.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Well that’s why you do it at Greenfield Village. It’s a large space with roads and scenery, but the roads are closed to the public and the facility is in a car centric area funded by automobile money. Ford’s Experimental Engineering Building is right next door and you can see the Proving Grounds from inside the park.

            It’s America’s historical attraction or some crap like that.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Cool, I could see doing such a thing in more places though than Greenfield Village. We all don’t live a hop, skip, and a jump away :)

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            A traveling deal would be cool. That place you took pictures of the vintage cars running on a track would work.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Did I tell you about the classic car club in London which X times a year has such a driving experience for X amount of money (maybe 600). They lead you around and you drive these puppies though.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatist

            If you want to taste an awesome machinery experience, it’s hard to top this
            http://oldrhinebeck.org/ORA/biplane-rides/

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          @RideHieght

          Just because you were around when they were still in production… :-)

          I’ve gotten to drive a Model T – it is an experience. Since other than the steering wheel, none of the controls do what you expect them to do!

          I still have my Great-Grandfather’s 1918 vintage Model T repair book. He bought it with his first car, around 1920.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      It’s an engine I hate too. Sounds like a garbage disposal struggling with chicken bones. Picking that over the 3.5 from Lexus/Toyota is criminal.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I agree, the 3.5L in Lexus is smoother and has more refinement, though produces much less power and is less flexible in general than the VQ.

        I also wonder if the Audi 4.2 V8 ever made this list, because surely it should have. As well as the Lexus 4.3.

  • avatar
    That guy

    The LT1 is notably absent. The Camaro SS hits 60 in 4 flat and still manages 28mpg highway.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    Is this a pay to play list? Working in the marketing world a lot of these “Top” lists are often paid for by the winners.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Some head-scratchers here.

    In what world is the transverse VQ a better engine than the J35?

    Similarly, in what world is the turbo FA in the WRX a better engine than BMW’s N20?

    And, finally, is the Hyundai hybrid system really better than the Toyota 2.4l system from the Camry and RAV4 (among others)?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “2-liter Turbo/Supercharged DOHC 4 cylinder (Volvo XC90)”

    I will be watching to see of Wards has egg on their face in a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Maybe they can vacate the award like they did with the 2.0TDI.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes. It is supposedly a dream to drive, but those poor pistons never get a break. I can’t imagine troubleshooting this thing.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’m really REALLY skeptical of the reliability on that thing. It’s clever, yes. But also much more complicated than need be, and pulling around a very heavy object.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Ward’s put the Northstar on the list in ’95-’97, the Shortstar in ’99 & ’00, the 2.5l Duratec V6 in ’98, the VW 1.8T in ’01 & ’02, and the 2.0TDI ’09-’11.

      So they have had a few omelettes to clean up in the past.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        And the 5.4L Triton.

        But I don’t think they claim – how *could* they, with a two month test of a new engine – to be judging long-term quality.

        Wikipedia says “selection takes into account power and torque output, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, technical relevance, and basic comparative numbers”.

        (Having been bit by a 5.4L Triton, I suppose it can count as a Y2K winner on *those* criteria.

        Just not, you know, “not blowing itself up after 130kmi” or “not being prone to cam phaser noise/failures” or “not blowing out spark plugs if the torque isn’t perfect”.)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Hmm.

    My friend’s Ram 3.0 Ecodiesel has been in the shop 5 times in its first year for engine- or emissions-related issues. I wanted to like this engine, but it’s not been good to him. The dealer has had trouble figuring out the problems. Their incompetence plus part shortages have meant several trips for each fault.

    He’s had the entire fuel system replaced, catalyst replaced, and several O2 sensors, in addition to CPU reflashes. The vehicle was once immobilized for an engine fault, and had to be flat-bedded to the shop. 27 (real) mpg highway hasn’t been worth the aggravation.

    It’s OK for now, but he’s ready to return to Toyota.

  • avatar

    The 3.5-liter DOHC V-6 would fit my car nicely.

  • avatar
    George B

    What engines would make the cut for a TTAC top-10 engine list? Seems to me that you start with relatively new engines that perform better than their peers for their particular application. The hard part is determining the top 10 from a list that includes good but widely different engines.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I think reliability has to count to some degree as well, which they don’t seem to.

      Here would be my personal choices as of right now, leaving out the VW EA888, which would otherwise be included, because bunch of butt-heads:

      – Toyota 1.8l and 2.4l hybrid systems (these are so similar in every way except engine/motor size they should count as one)
      – Ford 2.7l EcoBoost V6
      – Honda J35
      – BMW N20 (yes, I abuse it for being noisy/harsh, but it’s great in every other way)
      – Direct-injected Honda K24
      – GM Gen V 5.3l and 6.2l V8 engines (truck variants only)
      – Mercedes M278 twin-turbo 4.0l V8
      – Ford Coyote (5.0l car and truck versions only)
      – Chrysler 3.2l and 3.6l Pentastar V6
      – A Toyota dual-fuel-injection engine (could be either the 1UR V8 or 2GR V6)

      All of these are genuinely excellent engines that have also compiled above-average reliability records (admittedly some over longer time periods than others).

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        Nice list. The Ford 2.7 is obviously too new for long term reliability, but there will be tons of them on the road from the F-150 so there will be no shortage of data soon. It’s definitely strong, and I wish you could upgrade to it from an NA or FI four cylinder or NA V6 for only $795 on any vehicle. Full size truck MSRP may be crazy, but damn I’d love to be able to upgrade any car to 375 lb-ft for under a grand or get a V8 for $1600. Can you imagine?

        “This V6 Charger SE is okay…but I’ll take the 5.7L V8 for another $1600.” Ford needs to shove that engine in everything they build.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed on the Chrysler 3.6.

      I’ll humbly add any motor from the Tesla Model S.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Wards apparently did not mention Subaru’s FA Turbo is also used in the Forester XT, though XT’s version is a milder tune with wider torque curve.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    I would have to guess that Ward’s never owned a Subaru for any length of time. One thing Subaru needs is new engines. I hate to see what is going to happen 8 years from now when all the people who purchased them new learn what its like to own a Subaru. Of course by the time they learn what the cost is it too late.

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatist

      I finally got rid of an absolute beater subaru at at about 12 years because it had electrical gremlins and I wanted something different anyhow. About 250,000 miles with the engine and transmission still trouble free.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    I would have to guess that Ward’s never owned a Subaru for any length of time. One thing Subaru needs is new engines. I hate to see what is going to happen 8 years from now when all the people who purchased them new learn what is like to own a Subaru. Of course b

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I’d like to see how they come up with these lists.

    Why the Nissan VQ over the Toyota 2GR or Honda J35 or the Ford Duratec 35, or the Pentastar? They’re all good engines, but the VQ is old, and I honestly wonder what makes it better than all of the other 3.X V6 engines.

    Same thing with the Subaru 2.0 turbo 4. What makes it better than all of the other 2.0 turbos available?

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      Yeah, they are on crack with the VQ. It needs 91 octane to make 300 hp/261 lb-ft. GM’s updated NA 3.6 makes 335 hp/285 lb-ft on 87. Toyota was making Ward’s list ten friggin’ years ago with the 2GR-FSE that put up better numbers than this VQ, all while being silky smooth up to redline. It’s not like the fuel economy numbers are amaze balls either. It’s hard to call that progress, especially considering we are talking about a decade in between.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        The damning thing is that the VQ is mated to ghastly CVTs even to get the mediocre fuel economy numbers it does get.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        We rented a 2015 Nissan Quest with the 3.5 motor and CVT and it was merely okay but certainly not deserving of any top 10 list. It’s best highway mileage we obtained was a mediocre 21.3. I know the specific engine was in the new Maxima but is the same basic VQ series V6 engine family.

      • 0 avatar
        cbrworm

        I’ve been a fan of the VQ for many years, and of the VG before that, but even I don’t understand why it is on this list in 2015. So many other options.

  • avatar
    NickS

    OK, VW cheated on the TDI engines so those are out, but what of their spark ignition engines? Why remove those from consideration?

    Granted VW deserve a good shellacking and all that, but wards explanation is rather sanctimonious:

    http://m.wardsauto.com/blog/vw-audi-excluded-10-best-engines-testing?page=1

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Is there a new motor that doesn’t receive an award from Wards?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Cadillac 2.0T?

      Oh wait.

      http://gmauthority.com/blog/2013/06/gm-20l-ltg-turbocharged-four-cylinder-engine-one-of-2013-wards-10-best-engines/

      Well I guess Wards is no longer trustworthy.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Overall, the odds that a new engine will win are pretty high. This year, there were 36 nominees and I am willing to bet that it doesn’t take much to be nominated — being new is probably sufficient. Combine that with an inclination to share the wealth across the OEMs, and it won’t take much for just about everyone to win something.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Does the ATS get the new 3.6? GM seems really set on having the Camaro kill the ATS coupe. In all trims, if you can live with the bunker interior the Cmero is a much better buy.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Yes all 3 RWD based 2016 Cadillac sedans ATS/CTS/CT6 get the new 3.6 engine in 335/285 ratings guise. I have driven a new 2016 CTS with the new 3.6 and the difference between the old LFX is immediately noticeable.

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