Three Electrified Cars Named To 2017 Wards 10 Best Engine List

Three electrified hybrid drivetrains and seven turbocharged engines made the WardsAuto best engines list for 2017.

The Chevy Volt returned from last year’s list and was joined by the new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid as the two plug-in hybrid vehicles. The only non-plug-in hybrid making the cut was the Honda Accord Hybrid.

Three electrified vehicles made the list last year, too, but the Volt is the only one of those three to return to this year’s list.

The seven models with turbocharged engines are seeing performance and efficiency coming from automakers focusing on downsized powertrains with forced induction and direct fuel injection, according to WardsAuto.

WardsAuto also tipped its hat to V8 engines, which missed the 10 Best list for the first time ever since it was started in 1995. Vehicles with high-output six-cylinder turbocharged engines are producing enough horsepower and torque, says Wards, to merit its recognition.

“Automakers see downsizing, turbocharging and electrification as key strategies for delivering no-compromise powertrains that also are fuel efficient, and this year’s list clearly affirms that strategy,” said WardsAuto Senior Content Director Drew Winter.

WardsAuto editors evaluated 40 vehicles being considered for the award in October and November. Evaluation factors include horsepower, torque, comparative specs, noise attenuation, actual fuel economy, and the application of new technology. The judges evaluated whether the engine or electric propulsion system really make the vehicle stand out.

Vehicles must have a base price no higher than $62,000 to be eligible. That eliminated the Tesla Model S and Model X, the BMW i8, from consideration.

Ward’s list has become more competitive for electrified drivetrains, with 11 nominees making this year’s list. That broke down into seven plug-in hybrids, three hybrids, and one battery-electric vehicle.

Kudos were given to the Voltec system.

“General Motors’ second-generation Voltec drivetrain remains one of the most innovative and disruptive propulsion systems ever produced,” WardsAuto said.

The Volt was also praised for its 53-mile battery only range, and for being a quiet and comfortable car to drive long distances. Editors were also impressed by 300 pounds-feet (407 Nm) of torque, and 106 MPGe.

Chrysler was acknowledged for the award-winning Pacifica, which also comes in a first-ever plug-in hybrid minivan version. Judges said it stood out from other contenders for its seamless and efficient driving experience and functionality with all of the interior space and comfortable ride.

The publication expects to see that the vehicle’s eHybrid platform will make its way to other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles front-wheel-drive vehicles. The Pacifica Hybrid is powered by dual electric motors and a heavily revised 3.6-liter Atkinson-cycle V6. That’s capable of delivering 33 miles all-electric and 566 miles of total range.

SEE ALSO:  Ward’s 10 Best Engines For 2014 Includes EV And Diesel

The Honda Accord Hybrid stood out this year for an unconventional quality – being capable “to fool many drivers into thinking they’re not piloting a gas-electric hybrid.”

It may be the best balance yet of performance and fuel economy, according to WardsAuto. That comes from an electric motor paired with a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine capable of 212 horsepower output, as seen in the photo above. The traction motor is rated at 232 pounds-feet of torque from zero to 2,000 rpm.

On the turbocharged vehicle front, the Hyundai Elantra Eco represented inexpensive small cars that WardsAuto looks to add each year to the list. Of course, it also needs exceeding performance, strong fuel economy, and being quiet while driven, to make the list. These qualities are being delivered by the Eco’s 1.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injected Kappa four-cylinder engine.

These are available well equipped for $21,600, and testing found it can deliver up to 40 mpg.

Winners will be praised at the January 11 WardsAuto ceremony at the Detroit Auto Show.

The editors are enthusiastic enough about electrified powertrains to put out a teaser about the several of these models that will be tested out for the 2018 competition. That list include the Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, Chevy Bolt, Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid, and Volkswagen e-Golf.


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