Anyone who’s seen Chevy’s “Most Awarded” commercial will realize that the world of automotive accolades is a crowded place. From Top Safety Picks to lists of the most popular sedans, best family cars, or lowest cost-of-ownership vehicles, we appreciate awards that are tailored for the consumer. One of the appeals of WardsAuto’s list of 10 best engines is how the judges administer their tests. Rather than taking dozens of cars out on a track or running countless 0-60-mph runs, the judges drive nominees in everyday situations. As a result, we’re greeted with a list of the 10 best engines for real life, rather than the 10 best engines for the next episode of “The Grand Tour.”
Of course, sometimes when you focus on grocery runs and school-trip carpools, you miss the real gems. While we take no issue with Ward’s selections for 2017, we did find a handful of engines predictably, yet unfortunately, absent.
2017 Ford F-150 | 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 / 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor | High Output 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6
It appears the judges at WardsAuto don’t include towing and hauling in their list of everyday activities. If they did, it’s hard to believe they would have left off Ford’s second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. Found in the 2017 F-150, the new engine produces 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque—the latter a boost of 50 lb-ft over the outgoing engine. Those numbers, when managed by Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission, result in a best-in-class towing maximum of 12,200 pounds. If your truck needs fall more in line with desert racing than Home Depot trips, you could also opt for the 2017 Raptor and its High-Output version of the 3.5-liter V6, making a built-for-speed 450 horsepower and 510 lb-ft.
2017 Dodge Challenger | 6.4-liter V8
In his review, Mike Perkins called the 2016 Dodge Challenger the only true muscle car left, and said that while the Hellcat’s 707 horsepower drew the headlines, it was the 6.4-liter naturally aspirated V8 in the Challenger R/T Scat Pack that was the “best of the bunch.” To put it simply, we don’t see much changing in 2017. Delivering 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque, that V8 pairs with a 6-speed manual transmission or an 8-speed automatic geared shorter, meaning the car spends more time in the engine’s power band. We like cars with plenty of power, and seeing this engine engineered for excitement beyond quarter-mile times makes it a sure thing on our revised list of 2017’s best engines.
Porsche 718 Cayman | 2.0-liter turbo H4
Anyone who has met an honest-to-goodness Porsche 911 enthusiast will be able to confirm a few facts:
- They insist upon a particular pronunciation of the name “Porsche,” (but this pronunciation is not consistent across all enthusiasts).
- They (often pedantically) insist that placing an engine behind the rear axle is a recipe for excellent handling, despite many of the laws of physics.
- They are, by and large, not thrilled by the prospect of turbochargers being employed in the products of Stuttgart, Germany.
With the possible exception of that first point, we can thank the engineers at Porsche for the 2017 718 Cayman, for it stands incongruous to the Porsche enthusiast’s idiosyncrasies. The 911 is undoubtedly an amazing machine, with a history nearly as fascinating as its awe-inspiring capabilities. That said, hanging an engine out over the back of a sports car presents, at the very least, some very real hurdles to driving dynamics, and we’ve seen for long enough that the midengine design of the Cayman delivers exceptional (and possibly superior) handling. But it’s the 718’s new 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four that lets the Cayman—and it’s roofless sibling, the 718 Boxster—really shine. At 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque (25 and 69 more than the outgoing, naturally aspirated H6 engine, respectively), it sprints to 60 mph in just enough time for you to forget about that 911 all the “true” Porsche fans drive.
Ford Shelby GT350 | 5.2-liter V8
Wait, what? Another Ford? Yeah, sure, adding this one to WardsAuto’s list would bring the total number of blue ovals up to three, but rather than dwelling on growing homogeneity, let’s instead offer a quick round of applause to our most history-rich American automaker. If the Challenger’s 6.4-liter V8 was impressive, the 2017 Ford Shelby GT350’s 5.2-liter V8 is downright exotic. We’re sure the judges at Ward’s probably questioned its greatness in regards to “daily usefulness,” but keep your foot on the accelerator as the V8’s flat-plane crankshaft revs up to 8,250 rpm, and we suspect you’ll be greeted with a sound you’d be happy to enjoy seven days a week.
Ram 1500 | 3.0-liter V6
It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that WardsAuto didn’t include any diesel engines on its list for 2017. The past year, after all, hasn’t been overly kind to diesels. From Volkswagen’s diesel scandal to cities banning diesel cars, popular opinion has been turned against the oil-burners. Still, there are some great diesel vehicles out there, and none grabbed our attention more than the 2017 Ram 1500. With 240 horsepower, a VM Motori 3.0-liter diesel V6 engine gives the Ram best-in-class fuel economy, and its 420 lb-ft of torque mean owners don’t have to sacrifice any towing or hauling ability to get it. Frankly, if we’re selecting great engines based on day-to-day use, the Ram’s 3.0-liter diesel V6 should be a no-brainer.
Which engine do you think should have gotten a spot on WardsAuto’s 2017 10 Best Engines list?
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