Automotive industry publication WardsAuto has released their annual "10 Best Engines" list. This year there are lots of turbos, a few hybrids, but for the first time since testing began in 1995, there are no V8 engines on the list.
The competition includes 40 nominees, which covers all of 2017's new or significantly improved powertrains along with last year's winners. This year's list sees three hybrid powertrains. That includes the returning winner 1.5L four and dual electric motor system from the Chevrolet Volt, the 3.6L V6 with two electric motors from the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid, and the 2.0L four with (see a pattern here?) two electric motors from the Honda Accord hybrid. Editors liked the 300 lb-ft of torque and 2.2 Le/100 km from the second generation Volt, the surprising observed economy of 7.8 L/100 km from the Pacifica, and they praised the seamlessness and performance of the Accord's hybrid system.
A number of other engines made the list for their fuel efficiency. Mazda's 2.5L Skyactiv turbo four from the 2017 Mazda CX-9 SUV makes up to 250 hp thanks to their unique dynamic pressure turbo and can give the three-row SUV V6 performance with class-leading fuel economy. Hyundai's Elantra Eco isn't available in Canada, but Wards said the 1.4L turbo four "delivers refinement, performance and fuel economy uncommon among compacts." They also cited unique tech such as an exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head and separate thermostats and cooling circuits for the block and cylinder head.
But high-performance engines weren't left off the list, and there are some amazing ones this year. BMW's 335 hp 3.0L twin-turbo inline six from the M240i made the list this, taking the place of the 365 hp engine from the M2 that had made the list three times in previous versions. The 2.3L turbocharged four that Ford boldly placed in a Mustang has made the list but under the hood of the Focus RS. In that car it makes 350 hp and 350 lb-ft with very little turbo lag.
The all-new 3.0L V6 from the Infiniti Q50 gets two turbos and 400 hp, which helps it charge onto the list. Wards called it "silky smooth, quiet when you want it to be and capable of delivering respectable fuel economy...But step on the gas and be prepared for a wallop that slams you into the seatback."
Finally, another pair of small-displacement four cylinders, these from Mercedes and Volvo. The first is the 241 hp turbocharged engine in the Mercedes-Benz C300. Peak torque arriving at just 1,300 rpm along with refinement helped secure its spot. The last is the 2.0L four that Polestar has modified to put in the Volvo V60 Polestar. That engine has a turbo and a supercharger, and makes 362 hp. That's a staggering 184 hp/L. The lower power 316 hp version from the XC90 made the list last year, but more power thanks to extensive engine revisions makes the Polestar engine an easy choice.
The 2017 winners will get their trophies at a ceremony during the North American International Auto Show in January.