— The winners of Ward's 10 Best Engines awards for 2005 demonstrate that you can have it all: many of the winning engines highlight sophisticated new technology that not only improves mileage but also pumps up power, the publication announced on December 21.
Ward's 2005 list of the industry's most exemplary engines marks the 11th year for the Ward's 10 Best Engines program, an annual barometer of automotive engine development.
The Ward's 10 Best Engines for 2005 (Engine and tested vehicle):
Audi AG FSI 3.2L DOHC V-6 (Audi A6)
Audi AG 4.2L DOHC V-8 (Audi S4)
DaimlerChrysler AG 5.7L Hemi Magnum OHV V-8 (Chrysler 300C)
DaimlerChrysler AG Mercedes-Benz 3.2L DOHC I-6 CDI Turbodiesel (Mercedes E320 CDI)
Ford Motor Co. 4.6L SOHC V-8 (Ford Mustang GT)
General Motors Corp. Vortec 4.2L DOHC I-6 (Chevrolet TrailBlazer)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. 3L SOHC V-6 IMA Hybrid (Honda Accord Hybrid)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. Acura 3.5L SOHC V-6 (Acura RL)
Mazda Motor Corp. 1.3L Renesis rotary (Mazda RX-8)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Infiniti G35 Coupe)
Cylinder deactivation, gasoline-electric hybridization and advanced diesel technology all are represented by winners on this year's Ward's 10 Best Engines list. These systems allow engineers to develop engines that combine startling power with impressive fuel economy.
Another important emerging technology that generates more power while also improving fuel economy, direct gasoline injection, brings home a win for Audi AG in its first North American application of its all-new "FSI" 3.2L DOHC V-6. The 255-horsepower V-6 produces 35 more horsepower than the engine it replaces, yet delivers as much as 10-percent better fuel economy. Audi's direct-injection powerhouse also operates on regular-grade unleaded gasoline.
Cylinder deactivation, which allows an engine to operate with half its usual number of cylinders when full power is not necessary, is another critical new fuel-saving technology featured on two Ward's 10 Best Engines winners for 2005. DaimlerChrysler AG's 5.7L "Hemi" V-8 incorporates the company's Multi-Displacement System to instantaneously shut down four of the Hemi's cylinders when not needed. Meanwhile, when the Hemi's power is required, MDS immediately reactivates the cylinders to generate the engine's full 340 horsepower.
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. also uses its own cylinder-deactivation system – Variable Cylinder Management – to boost fuel economy for its new 3L SOHC V-6 used in the Accord Hybrid. The car also employs Honda's Integrated Motor Assist hybrid-electric technology to boost power and increase fuel efficiency. While the Accord Hybrid is 15 horsepower stronger than its traditional-powertrain counterpart, VCM and IMA combine to improve fuel efficiency by a startling 38 percent in the city and 23 percent on the highway.
DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz unit wins a Ward's 10 Best Engines award in the first year of availability of its new CDI 3.2L inline 6-cylinder turbodiesel. As with Audi's FSI, the Mercedes diesel employs high-tech "direct" fuel injection and a host of other sophisticated electronic controls to create a diesel engine that generates spectacular torque – the portion of engine power production most important for acceleration – and almost 40-percent better fuel economy than a similar-size gasoline 6-cylinder engine.
"Suddenly, there is a confluence of new engine technology that engineers can deploy to meaningfully increase fuel economy while not sacrificing — and sometimes even improving — power output," says Bill Visnic, Ward's senior technical editor. "The speed with which these sophisticated new systems have come to market, for comparatively affordable engines, is stunning. Power and economy no longer are mutually exclusive development goals," Visnic adds. "Engine engineers are liberating genuinely remarkable new levels of performance."
Power for power's sake is not forgotten on this year's list, however. Ford Motor Co. wins with its heavily revised 4.6L SOHC V-8 in the all-new Ford Mustang GT. Ward's testers praised Ford for creating a refined V-8 that produces 300 horsepower at an affordable price. Ward's testers called it "the perfect new-generation muscle-car V-8."
Honda also proves it "knows horsepower" with its first-time winner, the Acura 3.5L SOHC V-6. The new V-6 pounds out 300 horsepower from its 3.5L displacement, making it one of the most powerful naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engines in production. The 3.5L V-6 is used in Acura's all-new RL luxury/sport sedan.
Audi returns for a second year with its smooth and powerful 4.2L DOHC V-8 that generates a thundering 340 horsepower in a sophisticated package that seamlessly integrates sophistication and muscle. Audi's premium V-8 remains one of the market's most powerful V-8s for its size.
Also returning as a Ward's 10 Best Engines winner is General Motors Corp.'s outstanding Vortec 4.2L DOHC inline 6-cyl., used in GM's mid-size SUVs. The Vortec 4200 enjoys its fourth consecutive year as a 10 Best Engines winner with its combination of first-class specific output, intelligent engineering, and outstanding responsiveness.
Taking its 11th consecutive 10 Best Engines trophy is Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s 3.5L DOHC V-6. The only engine to win an award every year since the program's inception, Nissan engineers improve the ever-fabulous "VQ" V-6 with new levels of power and torque for 2005.
Ward's 10 Best Engines list is completed by Mazda Motor Corp.'s unique Renesis rotary engine. This 1.3L powerhouse returns for a second year fronting the same impressive design advances and spectacular power output, in relation to its size, that virtually guaranteed a win in 2004, its first year of availability. The Renesis rotary's second consecutive win is "testimony to the extensive long-term engineering Mazda has devoted to the Wankel design," says Visnic. Mazda currently is the only automaker building a rotary engine for a series-production car.
During a two-month test period, six editors from Ward's Communications evaluated the engines "nominated" from 36 different cars, trucks, and SUVs. Scoring encompassed the crucial engine characteristics of power, torque, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), technical relevance, and basic comparative numbers. All engines nominated and tested were in vehicles with a base MSRP under $52,500. "The engines in high-priced vehicles should be outstanding," says Visnic. "By setting a realistic base price, we ensure the awards have value and relevance to the average consumer." Details of the Ward's 10 Best Engines will be featured in the January 2005 issues of Ward's AutoWorld and Ward's Engine & Vehicle Technology Update and at www.wardsauto/.