As we approach the next Detroit Auto Show, one of the events mainstays for the past 15 years, the Ward’s Auto 10 Best Engines awards, has once again been announced. The list, which is the North American auto industry’s only award for powertrains, is selected by Ward’s editors, who for this year’s round-up were looking for both efficiency and fun-factor.

To qualify for the award, engines must be available in a regular-production, U.S.-specification models and be on sale no later than the first quarter of 2009. The catch is that the cars must be priced no more than $54,000 - a price cap indexed to the average cost of a new vehicle. The awards are set to be formally announced on January 14 at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

Surprisingly, Nissan’s familiar VQ series V6 engine was absent from the list for the first time since the award’s inception back in 1995 despite being significantly updated this past year. Also, a marked change from last year’s list was the inclusion of more diesel and four-cylinder engines, which highlights the gravity of changing preferences towards smaller and more fuel-efficient powertrains in the American car market.

The winners, in alphabetical order, are listed below:
- Audi: 2.0L TFSI turbocharged DOHC I4 (A4 Avant)
- BMW: 3.0L turbocharged DOHC I6 (135i Coupe)
- BMW: 3.0L DOHC I6 Turbodiesel (335d)
- Chrysler: 5.7L Hemi OHV V8 (Dodge Ram/Challenger R/T)
- Ford: 2.5L DOHC I4 HEV (Escape Hybrid)
- General Motors: 3.6L DOHC V6 (Cadillac CTS)
- Honda: 3.5L SOHC V6 (Accord Coupe)
- Hyundai: 4.6L DOHC V8 (Genesis)
- Toyota: 3.5L DOHC V6 (Lexus IS 350)
- Volkswagen: 2.0L SOHC I4 Turbodiesel (Jetta TDI)
Via: Ward's Auto