2014 Ten Best Engines List Released by Ward's Auto

Sami Haj-Assaad
by Sami Haj-Assaad

With an increased focus on efficiency, engines are constantly being updated. New technology is being added, such as direct injection, while older techniques are being refined, including turbocharging.

So which engines are the best? WardsAuto chimes in with this list of the Best Engines of 2014. We’ve seen most of these vehicles over the course of 2013, but in order to be eligible, Wards says that the cars must be on sale during the first quarter of 2014. Listed in no particular order, these engines impressed with their performance, fuel economy and refinement. Most are brand new or revamped significantly for the new year.

First on the list is Audi’s 3.0-liter V6. This engine is supercharged to make 333 hp and is found in a wide range of vehicles from the S4 to the Q5. While we were disappointed to hear the 4.2-liter V8 in the S5 being replaced with this smaller six-cylinder engine, the supercharged six delivers its peak torque much sooner, giving the driver 325 lb-ft as soon as 2,900 rpms.

It could be argued that 2013 was the year of the diesel, as more automakers offered the low-reving oil-burners this year. Savvy automakers like BMW used the fuel to juice up their model lineups with better fuel efficiency, without ruining the fun factor. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel found in the 535d as well as the X5 uses a single turbocharger to deliver peak torque of 413 lb-ft as soon as 1,500 rpm. Without a doubt, BMW’s diesel delivers the twist, but also manages to be fuel friendly and quiet, hence it’s place on this top 10.

The folks over at Ram finally realized that truck owners don’t mind getting good fuel economy too, so the company paired its Ram 1500 with a 3.0-liter turbo diesel. The results are nothing short of a game-changer for the pickup truck market. The truck still delivers excellent towing capability, while staying extremely fuel efficient. It’s one of the main reasons the Ram won AutoGuide.com’s inaugural truck of the year award. This diesel motor is also found in the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, making the SUV a seriously versatile option for buyers.

A first for EVs on the best engine list, the electric motor found in the Fiat 500e made some fans and left an impression that earns its keep. So what if the 500e is limited to California, the car still is a fun to drive electric vehicle with solid range thanks to its electric drive-train. Some even found the car to exceed its 85 mile range, making this a popular vehicle for first time EV owners.

Apparently there is a replacement for displacement and that comes with turbocharging. A small, three-cylinder engine will soon be offered in the Ford Fiesta. What makes the 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine so good? Engineers make it function without a balance shaft, helping to resolve the usual NVH issues found in three-cylinder engines. Of course there’s the fact that the engine is extremely fuel-friendly and is rated to get 45 mpg on the highway.

With the Cruze Diesel, Chevrolet is firing back at the diesel offerings found in the Volkswagen Golf and Jetta. This 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine puts out 151 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque and helps the compact net 46 mpg on the highway. It might be a little loud, but at least Chevy countered with more sound-deadening within the Cruze.

Who doesn’t love the Chevrolet Corvette and its impressive 6.2-liter V8? There’s no doubt that GM’s new LT1 engine found in the ‘vette is an impressive piece of hardware. It features standard cylinder de-activation allowing for better fuel economy when driven sedately. But of course, this is a Corvette we’re talking about and it has to be driven hard. Direct injection is added to help improve output to 455-hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The LT1 also shares most of its technology and components with GM’s trucks. The 6.2-liter V8 found in the Silverado and Sierra both have a hint of Corvette in them.

While many automakers are ditching V6s in the mid-sized sedan segment, Honda is not only still offering a V6 in the segment, but winning awards with it. The 3.5-liter V6 engine in the Accord helps put out 278 hp and 252 lb-ft of torque, even without direct injection. A pleasant surprise comes with the cars fuel economy, with it getting 26 mpg in combined driving, and a much appreciated 34 mpg on the highway, thanks to cylinder deactivation.

There’s no way we can forget about horizontally opposed engines can we? Porsche’s 2.7-liter flat-six engine found in the Cayman and Boxster makes the list, and is an under-appreciated aspect of theses affordable sports car’s performance. Making 275 hp and 213 lb-ft of torque, the engine isn’t extremely powerful, but exceeds expectations thanks to the Cayman’s light weight. Porsche packed the engine with new tech in order for it to save fuel, including direct injection, a start-stop system and variable valve timing. It all helps the car deliver 32 mpg on the highway, which is a solid number for a sports car.

The new 1.8-liter turbocharged engine from Volkswagen will finally replace the old 2.5-liter five-cylinder in a number of VW vehicles. This new engine is extremely enjoyable to drive and will turn the boring Jetta into an excitable compact. Fuel economy is now rated at 36 mpg on the highway and new technology like a start-stop system helps the car save fuel in the city too.

Sami Haj-Assaad
Sami Haj-Assaad

Sami has an unquenchable thirst for car knowledge and has been at AutoGuide for the past six years. He has a degree in journalism and media studies from the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto and has won multiple journalism awards from the Automotive Journalist Association of Canada. Sami is also on the jury for the World Car Awards.

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