It’s a stereotype that’s been beaten to a bloody death, but I can’t deny what my nationality calls for: a V8 engine. And the eight-cylinder marvels were conspicuously absent from the 2017 Wards 10 Best Engines list.
As The Truth About Cars points out, this list includes both naturally aspirated V8s and forced induction V8s—the first time in all 23 years of Wards testing that the layout hasn’t been included. That’s not to say that there weren’t great engines on the list, though. The winners are:
- 3.0L Turbocharged DOHC I-6 (BMW M240i)
- 1.5L DOHC 4-cyl./Dual Motor EREV (Chevrolet Volt)
- 3.6L DOHC V-6/Dual Motor PHEV (Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid)
- 2.3L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl. (Ford Focus RS)
- 2.0L DOHC 4-cyl./Dual Motor HEV (Honda Accord Hybrid)
- 1.4L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl. (Hyundai Elantra Eco)
- 3.0L Turbocharged DOHC V-6 (Infiniti Q50)
- 2.5L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl. (Mazda CX-9)
- 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC 4-cyl. (Mercedes-Benz C300)
- 2.0L Turbo/Supercharged DOHC 4-cyl. (Volvo V60 Polestar)
Wards said that the cars couldn’t have a base price higher than $62,000 to be eligible for the evaluation, and that:
Editors score each powertrain based on horsepower, torque, comparative specs, noise attenuation, observed fuel economy and the application of new technology. The guiding principles: Does the engine or electric propulsion system truly sell the car or raise the bar for its competitive set?
Sure, a lot of luxury cars have V8s for over $62,000. But that excludes all the American muscle-sport coupes at the moment, and a few others.
Does this really come as a surprise to anyone? Something something turbocharging, electrifying and downsizing something? This list is just more evidence that automakers are pushing to create engines that are just as powerful as their naturally aspirated cousins but are also simultaneously cleaner and more efficient.
For example, Wards looked at five Ford powertrains: the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 in the Lincoln Continental, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 in the Ford F-150, the Fusion Energi PHEV, the 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the Focus RS and the 5.2-liter V8 in the Shelby GT350.
Ultimately, the 2.3-liter in the Focus RS beat out the competition because of its sheer power and lack of “dead spots” in the power delivery. I can’t say I’d disagree.
One more thing: does this list really matter? It’s considered a prestigious award in the auto industry, but it’s hard to argue how much your average buyer really cares. More than anything, it’s a sign of the times: the big V8's days may, unfortunately, be numbered.