There's one naturally aspirated internal combustion engine, one fuel cell, and one electric motor on this list. Of the 10 best engines, four are holdovers from last year's list and six make their debut.
According to Ward's, only new or significantly re-engineered engines or propulsion systems that are available for sale in the US and are installed in cars having a base price of less than $60,000 are eligible for the top 10.
Of 37 entries — 10 returning winners from last year and 27 new contenders — were evaluated by Ward's team of editors. All of the cars were put through their paces under normal daily commutes by the editors over the past two months in Detroit. Ward's editors scored each engine based on power, torque, technology, fuel economy, and relative competitiveness, while taking noise, vibrations, and refinement into account.
The Subaru WRX is a legend in the world rally racing. One of the big reasons for WRX's success is the company's signature 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine.
The 268-horsepower engine is one of the three turbocharged 4-cylinder power plants to make the list.
Volkswagen's owes its recent sales resurgence to the Golf. Although the car may be new, its 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is a holdover from last year's top 10 list.
Having spent time behind the wheel of a Drive-E equipped S60, I can attest to engine's smooth and potent power delivery. Although not as fuel efficient as the T5's engine, the S60 T6's turbo and supercharged 302-horsepower Drive-E do a fair impersonation of a V6 or even a small V8 engine.
As great as small four bangers are, there's really no substitute for a real V8. One that made the list again is the Chevrolet Corvette's potent LT1 small block V8.
Ward's editors drove an 8-speed automatic transmission-equipped Vette for 300 miles and managed a respectable 20mpg.
The most talked-about engine of the year is certainly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Hellcat Hemi.
With 707 horsepower on tap, the Hellcat instantly made the Challenger the most powerful muscle in the world while the Charger became the most powerful and fastest sedan on the market.
The Hellcat may be the most discussed engine on Ward's top 10 list, but the most critically acclaimed is certainly the Ford 1.0 EcoBoost 3-cylinder engine.
In addition to again making Ward's list, the 1.0 EcoBoost has been named International Engine of The Year three years in a row by a panel of auto journalists.
Mated to a five-speed manual transmission, the gutsy engine provides a ton of user-friendly horsepower while exhibiting little to no turbo lag. One Ward's editor managed to average 38.9 miles per gallon. Very impressive.
Another 3-cylinder engine on the list is BMW's twinpower turbo engine that's used to power the Mini Cooper.
Like the Ford EcoBoost motor, Ward's editors praised the Mini's 3-cylinder engine for its peppy performance and miserly fuel usage.
Another fun tidbit about the twinpower turbo engine: a 228 horsepower version can be found powering BMW's new i8 sports car.
Another BMW engine in Ward's Top 10 is the i3's 127 kilowatt electric motor.
The 170 horsepower unit pushes the compact electric car to 60mph in just 7 seconds.
Another piece of alternative fuel technology to make the list is Hyundai's 100 Kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell. The Hyundai fuel cells power the cars by converting hydrogen into electricity.
The fuel cell is currently offered on the Hyundai Tucson FCV SUV, which Ward's editors praised for being powerful, quiet, and user friendly.
The final engine on the list is also the only diesel to make the cut — RAM's 3.0 turbodiesel V-6. The potent truck engine is the only one of the three diesels from last year's list to make it in this year's top 10.
The Italian-engineered oil burner is lauded for its great fuel economy and refinement that's on par with the best diesels produced by Germany's elite luxury car makers.