It’s been 23 years since we heard for the first time of Wards’ testing engines, and for the first time its list doesn’t include a V8 engine! Last year’s Best Engines list was a grand menagerie of naturally aspirated sixes, forced-induction fours, hybrids, diesels, and a flat-plane V8. This year’s list is a collection of modestly sized turbo fours and sixes, with a handful of electrification thrown in for good measure.
In 2015, the 5.2-liter Voodoo V8 found in the Ford Shelby GT350 made the grade due to its impressive engineering and 8,250 rpm redline. This year, Wards didn’t seem to think there was room for anything that didn’t epitomize the perfect marriage of efficiency and performance — a characteristic V8s aren’t particularly well-known for. Ward’s measures the engines as an overall success or failure; marveling solely at tech or being intoxicated by a unit’s performance isn’t enough. Editors score each drivetrain based on power, nose attenuation, fuel economy, new technologies, and comparative specs before deciding if the complete package helps the car shine more brightly than the competition. The only catch is the vehicles tested must have a base price no higher than $62,000 to be eligible.