Top 10 Best Engines of 2017: WardsAuto
Hybrid and turbocharged powertrains are paving the way to a brighter automotive future.
Wards Auto has announced its 10 best engines of 2017, with three electrified drivetrains making the list for the second time in as many years. The remaining seven engines are all turbocharged, reinforcing the industry trend toward downsized powertrains with forced induction and direct fuel injection.
Another sign of change is the fact that for the first time in 23 years of testing, a V8 engine failed to earn a spot on the list, although the turbocharged V6 engines offered today help fill the void.
The winning automakers will be honored January 11 at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.
BMW M240i – 3.0L Turbocharged DOHC I6
In this year’s competition, BMW had two eligible 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbocharged engines and WardsAuto admits it was hard picking just one for the list. Taking the crown however is the B58 inline-six engine introduced last year sporting 335 horsepower in the M240i. Judges found the engine “slippery fast and incredibly smooth, while consuming less fuel than some of the 4-cyl. turbos” they tested.
Chevrolet Volt – 1.5L DOHC 4-cyl. / Dual Motor EREV
The Chevrolet Volt is a returning winner, offering 53 miles of all-electric range and 294 pound-feet of torque from its electric motor. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides 101 horsepower while the electric motor churns out 149 hp. WardsAuto said the second-generation Voltec drivetrain remains one of the most innovative and disruptive propulsion systems ever produced.
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid – 3.6L DOHC V6 / Dual Motor PHEV
Chrysler added electrification to its all-new Pacifica minivan, creating a segment first as well as an award-winning formula. “Out of the myriad electrified vehicles we tested, the Pacifica Hybrid dazzles us by providing a seamless and efficient driving experience without sacrificing abundant interior space and comfortable ride and handling,” said WardsAuto. The unique powertrain features dual electric motors and a 3.6-liter Atkinson-cycle V6 engine that achieves up to 33 miles of electric range and 566 miles of total range.
Ford Focus RS – 2.3L Turobcharged DOHC 4-cyl.
This year, Ford offered four new solid powertrains for this year’s competition, but the one running away with the award is the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the Ford Focus RS. The powerplant beat out the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 found in the Lincoln Continental, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 in the Ford F-150 and the 5.2-liter V8 used in the Shelby GT350. The all-aluminum engine delivers plenty of performance with 350 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque and WardsAuto said of the 40 powertrains it tested this year, none was more exhilarating to drive than the Ford Focus RS.
Honda Accord Hybrid – 2.0L DOHC 4-cyl. / Dual Motor HEV
The only conventional hybrid to make the cut, the Honda Accord Hybrid pairs a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with a traction motor for total output of 212 hp. The traction motor is rated at 232 lb-ft of torque from zero to 2,000 rpm, giving the Accord plenty of instantaneous torque. A second, smaller motor serves as a generator, driving electricity to the traction motor to charge the car’s lithium-ion battery pack.
Hyundai Elantra Eco – 1.4L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl.
Returning hybrid-like fuel economy, the Hyundai Elantra Eco’s 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine lands on the list. The engine feels more stout than its 128-hp rating and helping it shine is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. WardsAuto came away impressed by several new technologies on the powerplant, including its exhaust manifold being integrated within the head and two thermostats governing separate cooling channels for the head and block.
Infiniti Q50 – 3.0L Turbocharged DOHC V6
It may not come as a surprise to many that the Infiniti 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine with 400 hp ended up on the list. WardsAuto noted the engine’s mirror-bore cylinder coatings, electrically driven intake-valve timing and integrated exhaust manifolds as reasons to believe the new “VR” engine family might be a dynasty in the making. The same powerplant is also available with a more fuel-efficient 300 hp.
Mazda CX-9 – 2.5L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl.
It came as a surprise that Mazda was brave enough to shoehorn a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine into a seven-seater crossover, but that’s exactly what it did with the new Mazda CX-9. The result was surprising to many and that particular engine is one of the top 10 this year. The Japanese automaker advertises that the powerplant makes 227 hp with regular unleaded gasoline, or 250 hp with premium 93-octane fuel.
Mercedes-Benz C300 – 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl.
There’s plenty of 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines now, but WardsAuto came away impressed with the one found in the Mercedes-Benz C300. Sporting 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, the numbers are modest but the way the power is delivered is what wowed the judges.
Volvo V60 Polestar – 2.0L Turbo/Supercharged DOHC 4-cyl.
And what happens when turbocharging a four-cylinder engine isn’t enough for performance? You go and add a supercharger of course. The 2.0-liter turbo and supercharged engine makes an impressive 362 hp in the Volvo V60 Polestar, making everyone wonder if it’s just a matter of time before an automaker develops an engine that produces 200 hp per liter.
Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at AutoGuide.com saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.
More by Jason Siu