There are no instrument tests used in the annual survey, now in its 19th year. Instead, Ward’s editors drive vehicles on their daily commute in the Detroit area, and rate engines based on power, fuel economy, technology employed and perceived noise, vibration and harshness.
Eligibility requirements are straightforward: each engine must be used in a vehicle costing less than $55,000, and each must be available in a U.S. specification production vehicle no later than the first quarter of the following year, in this case, 2013. Winners from previous years are automatically eligible for retesting in the following year.
The 2013 list is also significant for what isn’t on it; for the first time in seven years, the list contains no hybrid, full-electric or diesel engines on it. Chalk that up to the innovations that manufacturers have made in recent years, increasing both fuel efficiency and horsepower of gasoline engines.
For 2013, Ward’s 10 Best Engines are:
- 3.0L TFSI Supercharged DOHC V-6, tested in the Audi S5
- 2.0L N20 Turbocharged DOHC I-4, tested in the BMW 328i
- 3.0L N55 Turbocharged DOHC I-6, tested in the BMW 135is Coupe
- 3.6L Pentastar DOHC V-6, tested in the Ram 1500
- 2.0L EcoBoost DOHC I-4, tested in the Ford Focus ST and Taurus
- 5.8L Supercharged DOHC V-8, tested in the Ford Shelby GT500
- 2.0L Turbocharged DOHC I-4, tested in the Cadillac ATS
- 2.4L DOHC I-4, tested in the Honda Accord Sport
- 3.5L SOHC V-6, tested in the Honda Accord
- 2.0L FA DOHC H-4 Boxer, tested in the Subaru BRZ
It’s worth pointing out that Audi’s 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 repeats on the list for its fourth consecutive year, while BMW’s N55 3.0-liter turbocharged six earns its third consecutive honor. BMW’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder earns top honors for the second year in a row.
Chrysler’s ubiquitous Pentastar V-6 earns its third 10 Best award, while GM picks up a repeat win with its newly-improved 2.0-liter turbocharged four. Ford does the same with its 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder.
Honda’s 3.5-liter V-6, updated for the 2013 model year, picks up its fourth trophy, with previous wins earned in 2005, 2008 and 2009.