Top Ten Car Engines of the (Near) Future

By Automotive Staff | December 31, 2008
Everyone is questioning the survival of the American automobile industry. That big bad word “Bankruptcy” has been passing through the lips of many a pundit and even the top execs at the automakers are admitting to some things they never would have admitted to just a few short months ago.For example, General Motors and Chrysler execs took a big swallow and then admitted that they may not make it through the end of the year. That coming just before President Bush relented and finally offered a life line to the Two of the Detroit Three (Ford said it didn’t need any assistance now). Pundits are saying that one of the reasons why the domestic three are having their problems is due to bad executive decisions including plans on R&D and the selection of models with which to approach potential car buyers. The problem is that many decisions are made years or even decades ago and the fruits of those decisions are just now appearing in tangible things like new engines that will be used to power new models. For all of you auto enthusiasts who want to hear good news then listen up. The new engines that were green lighted way back when for development are now about to make their appearances in real life -- kind of like in metal and oil (like flesh and blood?).
Anyway, some auto industry publications like to talk about the new engines and some, like Wards Autoworld has come up with the 10 Best Engines. And, if though these engines were just the spark in the eye of some engineer some 10 or so years ago, many of the top 10 are fuel efficient engines using new technologies to achieve that goal. Let’s take a look at what Wards Autoworld is saying are the top 10 engines:
  • Audi AG: 2.0 Liter TFSI DOHC Turbocharged I-4: This 4-cylinder engine features direct gas injection and variable turbocharger technology. It also includes variable valve timing, a two-stage intake manifold and electric like throttle response. It can generate 211 horsepower at 5,300 rpm. This is Audi’s second generation TFSI engine.
  • BMW AG: 3.0 Liter DOHC I-6 Turbodiesel: The innovation of this engine is a two-stage compressor system which includes a small turbocharger that works up quickly to offer solid, low-end response and a larger turbocharger that comes in at the higher speeds. It also has a torque rating of 424 lb.-ft. at 1,750 rpm and achieves 30 mpg. The engine is already appearing on the ‘09 BMW 335d sedan and the X5 xDrive 35d crossover/SUV.
  • BMW AG: 3.0 Liter DOHC Turbocharged I-6: This engine features 6 cylinders and a pair of turbochargers and Wards is touting it as the “ volume internal-combustion engine ever produced.” That’s not idle praise. Ward says that this engine is BMW’s competition to larger displacement V-6s with two turbochargers. It is said that it can produce more low end torque than the engine that runs the Mustang GT. And, Ward added, that there is “virtually no noticeable lag in power delivery.” It achieves and has even been known to surpass a fuel economy rating of 25 mpg
  • Chrysler LLC: 5.7 Liter OHV V-8: Believe it or not, Wards has brought attention to a “muscle car engine” in its annual list of top 10. The engine is appearing in the Ram pickup that generates 390 horsepower and the Challenger R/T coupe that rates at 376 horsepower. Yes, this is a Hemi and it does include new technology such as variable valve timing, which allows traveling in 4 cylinder mode about 40 percent of the time. Ward points out that is twice as much as the last generation Multi-Displacement System cylinder-deactivation system. So this engine can cruise at 70 mph in the 4-cylinder mode. The engine also has other innovations like a new active air intake manifold that includes butterfly valves in the circular intake runners that remain closed during normal driving but when accelerated hard at about 4,000 rpm, the valves open which cuts the intake runner half the length then it is when the valves are closed and thus forcing more air into the engine. Those who have driven a vehicle with this engine say that the sensation when this kicks is comparable to a turbocharger coming into play. And Wards points out that the engine can rev up more than 4,000 rpm. It goes 0-60 mph in just 6 seconds. Not bad for a truck engine. The engine is offered as an option on the Ram and Chrysler expects that 65 percent of you who will buy the Ram will opt for this engine.
  • Ford Motor Company: 2.5 Liter DOHC I-4 HEV: Ward admitted that it isn’t often that they put an engine used in an electric hybrid vehicle on to their list of top 10 engines, it’s only happened two times before. This engine makes three times. This engine replaces the 2.3 Liter I-4 in Ford’s first generation hybrids. Innovations include new intake and exhaust manifolds; a new intake camshaft; and higher compression pistons compared to a non-hybrid I-4. It also has a new processor that allows for a smoother transition from gasoline mode to electric mode and back again. The engine is being used in the Escape hybrid and the Mercury Mariner hybrid. The Escape has a fuel economy rating of 34 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway.
  • General Motors Corp.: 3.6 Liter DOHC V-6: This is a direct injection gasoline engine and it can generate 304 horsepower. It is now being used on the Cadillac CTS and it can run on regular unleaded gasoline. Wards says that most engines of this caliber can’t do that. Innovations include new electronic controls which betters that engine-management system and fuel injection.
  • Honda Motor Company: 3.5 Liter SOHC V-6: Ward uses the words “Rocket Ship” when praising this engine. It generates 271 horsepower and is used on the Honda Accord. It comes in a manual but there is also an automatic version that includes a three stage Variable Cylinder Management cylinder-deactivation system that allows the engine to run on 6, 4 or even 3 cylinders.
  • Hyundai Motor Company: 4.6 Liter DOHC V-8: The engine is being used in the Hyundai Genesis. A variable intake and valvetrain systems as well as improvements in internal components allows this engine to generate 375 horsepower and this allows the Genesis to outperform many of its rivals in the mid-level luxury category.
  • Toyota Motor Corp.: This engine is used on the Lexus 350. Ward says that this engine outmatches the Nissan larger VQ 3.7 liter DOHC V-6 as far as torque output and fuel economy are concerned. And this engine beats out the Honda 3.5 liter SOHC V-6 and General Motors’s 3.6 liter DOHC V-6 as far as overall flexibility and power delivery are concerned.
  • Volkswagen AG: 2.0 Liter SOHC I-4 Turdodiesel: What Wards liked about this engine is that it achieves a fuel efficiency rating of 36 mpg and yet it is affordable and has great driveability. Moreover, it meets strict Tier 2 Bin 5 emission standards without urea-injection aftertreatment which is used on larger diesels and adds to the expense. The innovation is oxidation catalysts and regenerating particulate filters which does the work of the urea-injection aftertreament system. It has a fuel economy rating of 33 mpg.
via Wards Auto