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The Best Engines of 2018 According to Wards

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Every year we’re looking forward to seeing which engines make WardsAuto’s 10 Best list. The results are in for 2018 and, among other highlights, half are smaller turbocharged mills, a V8 and a fuel-cell system reappear on the list, Kia is honoured for the first time and Toyota’s hybrid system shines, but in a different model than the Prius.

You’ll also notice that German automakers are absent and that the only luxury brands represented are INFINITI and Jaguar. The winners will receive their awards at a ceremony during the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month.

“We’re happy to recognize great engines in luxury cars, but we’re thrilled to see so many high-volume automakers whose vehicles are more affordable for average Americans delivering truly outstanding powertrains.”

- Drew Winter, WardsAuto senior content director

Note that vehicles must have a base price no higher than $63,000 USD to be considered. Without further ado, here are the 10 best engines of 2018 according to WardsAuto, in alphabetical order:

Electric propulsion system (Chevrolet Bolt EV)

The Bolt EV owes much of its success to its electric power unit. In addition to delivering strong torque and quick acceleration that makes the drive dynamic, it feeds off a battery allowing a range of 383 kilometres, more than any other EV not named Tesla.

Hybrid system with 3.6L Pentastar V6 (Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid)

This combo is good for a total range of 900 kilometres including 53 kilometres in EV mode. Real-world fuel consumption is in the 7.0L/100 km range. With most owners using their minivans to run errands and occasionally take a long-distance drive, WardsAuto calls it a stroke of genius.

2.7L turbocharged V6 (Ford F-150)

This EcoBoost engine impresses big time with near vibration-free idle, seamless stop/start functionality, quiet operation and of course plenty of spirit. With 325 horsepower on tap, it convincingly moves the big truck on the road. No surprise it’s the best-selling engine in the F-150 lineup.

5.0L V8 (Ford Mustang GT)

Ford’s legendary 5.0L V8 has been thoroughly reworked for 2018. It is more powerful (460 hp) and revs higher than any Mustang GT before, plus its engine note can be adjusted via the all-new active valve exhaust system (optional).

Fuel-cell electric propulsion system (Honda Clarity FCEV)

It’s a shame this technology has yet to spread. Imagine, the Clarity FCEV can travel 589 kilometres with a full tank of hydrogen. The car runs smoothly and silently, with reasonable power (174 hp) to keep pace with traffic.

2.0L turbocharged VTEC 4-cylinder (Honda Civic Type R)

Our compact sports car of the year also wowed the team at WardsAuto with its engine, the most powerful of any production Honda ever sold in North America. It develops 306 horsepower and naturally loves to rev high—like 7,000 rpm high. A slightly less powerful variant is available with the new Accord sedan.

3.0L turbocharged V6 (Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400)

This spectacular twin-turbo V6 produces up to 400 horsepower, putting INFINITI neck and neck with German sports sedans in the powertrain department. It’s silky-smooth, quiet when need be, and moderately thirsty with an average of 10.2L/100 km.

2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder (Jaguar XF)

Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium engine family is working wonders. This one comes in two states of tune: 247 and 296 horsepower. In each case, performance is impressive. While the automaker is busy preparing plug-in hybrid versions of key models, this advanced combustion engine should attract a lot of customers.

3.3L turbocharged V6 (Kia Stinger)

No turbo six from BMW on this list, yet a twin-turbo V6 from Korea found a spot. Surprised? Don’t be really. We love the Stinger’s 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, not to mention the fact it’s quiet and smooth at idle but willing to bellow like a big V8 under hard throttle.

Hybrid system with 2.5L 4-cylinder (Toyota Camry Hybrid)

Net system output is now rated at 208 horsepower and average fuel consumption hovers around 4.9L/100 km. The interaction between the all-new 2.5L gasoline engine and the electric motor is refined and seamless. Plus, the battery has been improved.