All We Want for Christmas Is a New Engine

Old man dressed as Santa Claus driving a drawn car and looking in the camera

Congratulations everyone, we’ve done it. The school year is under way, Halloween is long past, and we all made it through Thanksgiving and Black Friday with minimal bodily harm. Welcome to the holiday season. It wouldn’t be December without strings of Christmas lights, plenty of holiday cheer, and a few wish lists. We at CarGurus figured we’d get in the act, too, but rather than simply running through the latest sports cars or the best automotive-related gifts (those may come later), we thought we’d get into the eggnog and think outside the box a little. After all, why settle for something on the market when there’s a whole world of dream cars to imagine?

Pretty much every manufacturer makes some sort of high-performance engine these days (except Mitsubishi, which decided to drive the Lancer Evolution into the sunset). We happen to think those engines would fit awfully well in some thus-far under-served models. The rules are simple: Both engine and car must belong to the same automaker, and the proposed swap must be feasible (we’re not asking for a Mercedes-Benz V12 in a smart fortwo). Without further ado, here’s our holiday wish list.

2017 Jaguar XE

British cars have a rough history in the United States. The old classics, like Morris, Austin, MG, and Triumph, have come and gone, with our predominant memories centering around faulty Lucas electrical systems. Even Jaguar–considered by many to be Great Britain’s automotive crown jewel–has struggled to keep pace with its luxurious German competition. The 2017 XE is the latest step in Jaguar’s attempt to reclaim prominence in the U.S. market, aiming to compete directly with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, and Audi A4. Cliff Atiyeh applauded the XE’s excellent chassis, but recognized that driving dynamics this good are best paired with a true sports-car engine. While he was willing to settle for Jag’s 340-horse, 3.0-liter V6, some of us have loftier dreams: How about the 5.0-liter supercharged V8 pulled from Jaguar’s F-TYPE SVR? Making 550 horsepower, few engines produce a more savage exhaust note, and word on the street is that it will fit nicely into an XE.

2016 Ford F-150

When the Ford GT first entered showrooms in 2005, shoppers and enthusiasts noted that the supercar had inherited its 5.4-liter supercharged V8 engine from the Ford F-150 SVT Lightning pickup (but the GT’s was a hand-built, 4-valve-per-cylinder, all-aluminum, dry-sumped mill spitting out 550 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque). Fast-forward 12 years, and now it’s the pickup truck inheriting the supercar’s engine. An iteration of the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that powered the 2017 GT to a Le Mans victory will be available in the 2017 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. While we’re happy to see this delightful reversal, this Christmas, we want to see Ford take things one step further and offer the all-new engine in not just an off-road-focused monster truck, but in a street-focused reincarnation of the original Lightning. Instead of jacking up an F-150 on a high-performance suspension and sending it into the desert, let’s lower it down, tint the windows, maybe add a silly spoiler, and see how fast the pinnacle of EcoBoost can cover a quarter mile at the drag strip.

2017 Dodge Durango Brass Monkey and Anodized Platinum appearance

We’ve heard plenty of speculation about Dodge lending its Hellcat engine, a 707-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged masterpiece, to Jeep for a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk or even a Wrangler Trailcat. The latter is downright perplexing. What’s the purpose of a 707-hp engine in a comparatively antiquated vehicle designed for rock crawling? The Grand Cherokee at first blush looks like an incredibly alluring package; the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a hilariously entertaining car, but even its impressive 485-horsepower mill looks puny next to a Hellcat engine. But if the Hellcat badge is going anywhere, we want it to go on an SUV also sporting the famous crosshair grille. The Dodge Durango survives by offering a badass alternative for folks in need of a 3-row crossover, delivering intimidating looks and V8 power. The Durango seems like a perfect fit for a Hellcat trim, and Dodge is clearly open to ridiculous ideas–it offers a “Brass Monkey” appearance package, for Pete’s sake.


Ask any driving enthusiast for their thoughts on the Subaru BRZ, and you’ll likely hear the same rhetoric over and over again. It’s a brilliant sports car, balanced perfectly, and can be driven hard day after day. Its seating position is comfortable without lacking ample lateral bolstering, and the responsive chassis makes cornering a blissful experience. Turn uphill, however, and suddenly all anyone can think to talk about is its woefully inadequate power. The boxer engine (a design that allows Subaru and Toyota to mount the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder low in the car) made a somewhat defensible 200 horsepower, but its 151 lb-ft of torque was disappointing. The engineers made an effort to appease enthusiasts (and raise sales) with a 5-horsepower, 5-lb-ft jump in manual-transmission 2017 models. Like Walter White, however, we can’t approve of this half measure. Swap in the Subaru WRX’s 2.0-liter engine for 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, or–better yet–make our dreams come true with the WRX STI’s 2.5-liter and its 305 horsepower and 290 lb-ft. Sure, the bean-counters might be concerned about a higher price tag, but just think of all the smiles they’ll be selling.


The MINI Cooper Paceman has lived a hard, short life. Somehow topping out at over 3,200 pounds and fitted with an anemic, 121-horsepower base engine, the Paceman was never enough to stir anyone’s martini, so to speak. That being said, ramping up to the 181-horsepower S trim improved things, and the 208-horsepower John Cooper Works trim even offered a glimmer of excitement. Consider the availability of All4 all-wheel drive, and suddenly an idea begins to form. Fitting the BMW M2’s exquisite 3.0-liter turbocharged straight six into the Paceman might take some doing, but it certainly seems feasible, and as BMW owns MINI, there’s no trouble sourcing the engine. In the spirit of “more is always better,” if 208 horsepower could give a Paceman a pulse, the M2 engine’s 365 horses should bring it to the edge of cardiac arrest. MINI is planning to kill the Paceman after 2016, but hear our plea: Don’t put it down this holiday season–give it an engine transplant instead.

What’s your dream engine/car combination?

-Matt Smith

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