The Ward's 10 Best Engine list is usually a graphic exercise in what we want under our hoods, but this year's list includes a pair of "engines" that give a nod to the developing reality of modern powertrains: those of the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt.
OK, so maybe the Volt is only half a non-engine, depending on how you look at things, but it's still a non-traditional inclusion on a list that includes the likes of Audi's 3.0-liter TFSI supercharged V-6, Ford's 5.0-liter V-8, and the 2.0-liter inline four turbodiesel from VW.
The LEAF's powertrain isn't an engine at all, by any definition of the word, as it's purely electric. The Volt's system includes a 1.4-liter four paired with a 111 kW motor, but the engine only functions as a generator except for a few specific circumstances, making it a less-suspect but still shady inclusion on the list.
Not that we have any problem with the Volt or LEAF being recognized for their innovation. The problem instead lies with the name of the list. Perhaps the fact that the Volt and LEAF deserve to be on the list indicate it's time for Ward's to recognize the paradigm shift in modern vehicles and change the name to match.
The full list of winners is below.
Ward's 10 Best Engines 2011:
3.0L TFSI Supercharged DOHC V-6 (Audi S4)
3.0L N55 Turbocharged DOHC I-6 (BMW 335i)
1.6L Turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Mini Cooper S)
3.6L Pentastar DOHC V-6 (Dodge Avenger)
5.0L DOHC V-8 (Ford Mustang GT)
1.4L DOHC I-4/111kW Drive Motor (Chevrolet Volt)
5.0L Tau DOHC V-8 (Hyundai Genesis)
80kW AC Synchronous Electric Motor (Nissan Leaf)
2.0L DOHC I-4 Turbodiesel (Volkswagen Jetta TDI)
3.0L Turbocharged DOHC I-6 (Volvo S60)