Annual Honor from Ward’sAuto Puts Focus on Downsizing
As automakers turn their attention toward squeezing more efficiency from traditional internal-combustion powerplants, so are the editors of Ward’sAuto; in fact, their recent honor roll of the 10 Best Engines for 2013 shows nary a hybrid or electric entry. As explained by Drew Winter, editor-in-chief of Ward’sAuto World: “When hybrids and EVs have been on the list previously, it was because they were revolutionary and compelling. If next-generation EVs and hybrids raise the bar beyond the current Toyota Prius, Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt, then we’ll be happy to recognize them.”
For 2013, however, that recognition extends only to the auto brands listed on the next pages.
The four-rings folks earned a spot on the list with the 3.0-liter TFSI direct-injection V6 that resides beneath the hood of the 2013 Audi S5, among others. Making 333 hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, the supercharged engine also enables a surprisingly decent EPA line of 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway/21 mpg combined (when mated to the brand’s S tronic seven-speed automatic transmission). Also worth mentioning: It was the fourth consecutive year that the engine has won a place on the list.
One-upping its German rival, BMW delivered a pair of 10 Best Engines, including the 2.0-liter turbo I4 in the 2013 BMW 328i and the 3.0-liter turbo I6 in the BMW 135is coupe; both rely on the automaker’s TwinPower Turbo technology, variable valve control and high-precision direct injection for a strong mix of power and efficiency. The 328i, for example, combines the ability to reach 34 mpg on the highway with power outputs of 240 hp and 255 lb.-ft. of torque—with a manual transmission, of course, but that's the fun one.
Chalk up another award for the all-new 2013 Cadillac ATS. The brand’s well-received sport sedan, already named "Car of the Year" by Esquire magazine and the Detroit Free Press, and a member of the North American Car of the Year shortlist, was honored by Ward’s for its next-gen turbocharged I4 that extricates 272 hp and 260 lb-ft. of torque from a mere 2.0 liters of displacement. Even better, it does so while serving up a fuel-economy grade of 31 mpg highway. (Note: The North American Car of the Year Award will be announced in January in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.)
The Blue Oval also checked in with two products on the 10 Best Engines roster, including the list’s only V8: The 5.8-liter supercharged monster that transforms 650 hp and 600 lb.-ft. of torque into a top speed of more than 200 mph in the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500; Ford’s second winner is another hi-po choice, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4 that makes 252 hp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque, yet rings up an EPA line of 23/32/26 in the hotly anticipated 2013 Ford Focus ST. The latter powerplant also was honored this year by Ward's Auto for its work in the 2013 Ford Taurus, where it realizes an EPA line of 22/32/26 in a fullsize sedan.
The first engines to benefit from Honda’s “Earth Dreams” powertrain tech both reaped recognition from Ward’sAuto, as the 2.4-liter I4 in the 2013 Honda Accord Sport, as well as the 3.4-liter V6 in the Accord proper, were both award winners this time around. The latter is a particularly worthy choice, as it can provide drivers with 278 hp, 252 lb.-ft. of torque, and an EPA line of up to 24/34/28. In other words, even with more horsepower and while settled into the engine bay of a mid-size sedan, the V6 provides higher EPA grades than the compact Focus ST. It also bears mentioning that the 2013 Honda Accord, like the Cadillac ATS is in the running for North American Car of the Year.
Finding its way onto the 10 Best Engines list for the third straight year was the Pentastar V6 that powers the 2013 RAM 1500. It’s yet another sign of the Ram’s resurgence, as the truck had already won a slew of honors—including the Motor Trend and Detroit Free Press Truck of the Year Awards—before seeing its standard motivator become the only truck-sourced powerplant among this year’s 10 Best Engines. No doubt helping matters: It’s ability to deliver a best-in-class 25 mpg when mated to the segment’s first eight-speed automatic transmission. The 2013 Ram 1500 was the only truck to make the 2013 Ward's 10 Best Engines roster and also is a finalist for the 2013 North American Truck of the Year Award.
Although the inspiration behind two of the industry’s most buzzed-about cars of the year came from Toyota, the boxer-style power sources come straight from the engineers at Subaru. Which is why Ward’sAuto chose the four-cylinder, 2.0-liter engine in the Subaru BRZ as its final 2013 award winner instead of the one in the Scion FR-S. But both share the same ability to reach 34 mpg on the highway while enjoying 200 hp beneath the hood. (And as long as we're discussing other honors, let's not forget that the 2013 Subaru BRZ also was named a "10Best Car" by Car and Driver magazine—albeit in tie with the FR-S.)