Ward's 10 Best Engines
"Eaton, which supplies most of the world's superchargers, is coming up with new ideas for everything..."
Editor-in-chief, WardsAuto World
Ward’s Auto World launched its “10 Best Engines” award in 1995 to recognize the best of the best in powertrain performance, efficiency and driving dynamics. Ward’s editors test production vehicles equipped with the engines and evaluate them on a number of objective and subjective criteria in everyday driving situations, taking into account power and torque output, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, efficiency and overall technical relevance.
Since its inception, Ward’s “10 Best Engines” list quickly became the industry benchmark for recognizing outstanding powertrains and the engineering and development acumen that shapes them. Automakers vigorously compete each year to be included on the list, submitting their latest technologies for consideration, and the winners advertise and promote the awards as a key selling point throughout a vehicle’s life.
Suppliers also take great pride in contributing to winning engines. Eaton has been a mainstay among the “10 Best Engines,” often contributing content to half or more of the annual winners.
To be eligible, engines must be all-new, significantly improved or a winner from the previous year. For 2012, only engines in a U.S.- specification 2012 vehicle priced below $55,000 were considered.
Just like the vehicles that they power, today’s engines are a moving target. Ongoing technical advancements along with higher pump prices and more demanding fuel economy and emissions regulations make it much harder to remain on the list without continual improvements.
“Each year we challenge a returning candidate in a different way and we question whether it is still a benchmark engine,” says Tom Murphy, executive editor, WardsAuto.
In addition to advanced engine technologies, such as direct injection, cylinder deactivation, variable-valve actuation, boosting systems and automatic stop-start systems that turn the engine off when idling, there also are a host of emergingpower systems vying for underhood supremacy. These include diesels and other alternative or dual-fuel systems, as well as hybrid, all-electric and fuel cell power.
At the same time, the traditional Big Three Detroit automakers are expanding internationally, foreign-based OEMs are gaining market share in the U.S. and everyone is cooperating more through a labyrinth of technical alliances, joint ventures and mergers. This has led to a growing number of high-volume global vehicle and engine platforms, as well as sharing components across a range of vehicles and engine systems.
The stakes have never been higher. But consumers don’t want to sacrifice performance or pay extra to get premium features.
Automakers are employing a host of sophisticated controls, lightweight materials and other advanced technologies to improve fuel efficiency. They also are increasingly turning to smaller, boosted engines to get the job done.
Every component needs to be optimized and integrated into a cohesive and efficient system. To this end, OEMs are relying on strategic supplier partners to handle more upfront engineering work, improve existing systems and develop new technologies that meet specific needs.
A leader in power management technologies and systems, Eaton works directly with automakers to develop application-specific advanced powertrain solutions—including its industry leading valvetrain and supercharger systems. Eaton is known throughout the global automotive industry for its engine air management expertise and ability to create and manage horsepower as well as improve the efficiency and emissions of internal combustion engines.
A record seven of Ward’s 2012 top 10 engines utilize direct fuel injection . Five of the 10 are fourcylinder mills, including four that feature 2.0-liter displacements, and half of the winners use forced induction. The latter was a key to enable the use of smaller, more fuel-efficient engines that still deliver outstanding performance.
“With so many engines featuring gasoline direct-injection and forced induction, we’re pleased to have a list that is rich in technology,” says Drew Winter, editor-in-chief of Ward’s Auto World magazine. “Plus, every engine reinforces the idea that even fuel-efficient vehicles must be fun to drive.”
Eaton components contributed to half of the winners chosen by the prestigious trade publication. The winning engines were honored at an awards’ ceremony held in conjunction with Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in January.
On 2012 vehicles, Eaton technologies were used on the following Ward’s honored engines (in the models in which they were tested):
Lightweight Exhaust and Intake Valves
- BMW 2.0-liter N20 Turbocharged DOHC I-4 (BMW Z4/528i)
- BMW 3.0-liter N55 Turbocharged DOHC I-6(BMW 335i coupe)
- Ford 2.0-liter EcoBoost DOHC I-4 (Ford Edge)
- General Motors 2.0-liter Turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Buick Regal GS) Superchargers – Eaton Twin Vortices Series™ (TVS)
- Audi 3.0L TFSI Supercharged DOHC V-6 (Audi A6)
The 3.0-liter BMW engine is a repeat winner from last year. Ward’s points to it as a perfect example of the superior balance and refinement of inline engines and BMW’s mastery of the architecture’s execution, thanks in part to its intelligent Valvetronic intake system that uses an electric motor to continuously vary valve lift. The engine produces 300 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque, while averaging better than 25 mpg during the editors’ evaluation.
It was the third year in a row Audi’s supercharged V-6, which generates V-8 power with the efficiency of a V-6, made the list. Ward’s raved about the engine’s“stunning power, refinement and efficiency,” and several judges credited the Eaton supercharger for aiding the engine’s blend of performance, efficiency and overall sophistication.
“Eaton, which supplies most of the world’s superchargers, is coming up with new ideas for everything… not only on cars like this, but they also are looking at supercharging small diesels in Europe and all sorts of stuff. It looks like there is a lot of life left for the supercharger,”Winter asserts.
Eaton is the worldwide leader in original equipment supercharger solutions. In addition to boosting engine performance and low-end torque, Eaton superchargers can provide up to a five percent fuel savings and reduce emissions compared with competing technologies.