December 11, 2002

Ward’s announces ’10 Best Engines’ for 2003

Southfield, Michigan – Four all-new engines, including one that evokes a storied name from the 1960s muscle-car heyday, join several longstanding benchmarks on Ward’s 10 Best Engines list for 2003.

Leading the pack of newcomers earning Ward’s 10 Best Engines honours is DaimlerChrysler AG’s all-new reincarnation of the former Chrysler Corp.’s fabled Hemi V-8 (so-named for the hemispherical shape of its combustion chamber). Hemi circa-2003 is a 5.7L overhead-valve V-8 that makes a thumping 345 hp for its application in Ram and Ram HD pickups.

Ford Motor Co. also places a first-time winner to the Ward’s 10 Best Engines list with its powerful, all-new 6L Power Stroke turbodiesel, which replaces the 7.3L Power Stroke, long the market-leading medium-duty turbodiesel engine. Perhaps reflecting the industry’s continuing emphasis on pickups and SUVs, both the Hemi and Power Stroke are currently available only in pickup trucks.

At the other end of the size spectrum is the new Mini brand’s 1.6L supercharged DOHC 4-cylinder engine, fitted in the all-new Mini Cooper S, showing that even in the pickup and SUV-intensive U.S. market, there’s still room for a small-but-punchy 4-cylinder powerplant.

Rounding out the new entrants to the 10 Best Engines list is Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and its power-rich 3L DOHC V-6 that propels the new-for-’03 Accord. At 240 hp, the new Accord V-6 is one of the most power-dense V-6s ever made for a production vehicle.

The Ward’s 10 Best Engines for 2003:

Engine (and tested vehicle)

  • BMW AG 3L DOHC I-6 (330i)

  • BMW AG 3.2L DOHC I-6 (M3)
  • DaimlerChrysler AG 5.7L OHV Hemi Magnum V-8 (Dodge Ram HD)
  • Ford Motor Co. 6L Power Stroke OHV Turbodiesel V-8 (F-Series Super Duty)
  • General Motors Corp. 4.2L DOHC I-6 (Chevrolet TrailBlazer)
  • Honda Motor Co. Ltd. 2L DOHC I-4 (Acura RSX Type S)
  • Honda Motor Co. Ltd. 3L SOHC V-6 (Accord EX)
  • Mini 1.6L supercharged DOHC I-4 (Mini Cooper S)
  • Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Infiniti G35 coupe)
  • Volkswagen AG 1.8L turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Golf Gti 1.8T)

Six of 2003’s 10 Best Engines are repeat winners from last year — led by Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., which places its always-outstanding 3.5L “VQ” V-6 for the ninth consecutive year, a feat which no other auto maker’s engine has matched.

Meanwhile, BMW AG’s signature 3-litre and 3.2-litre DOHC inline 6-cylinder engines continue as Best Engines regulars, General Motors Corp. for the second year places its widely acclaimed 4.2-litre “Vortec” inline 6-cylinder, and the Honda/Acura 2-litre DOHC I-4 also returns to capture a Best Engines award for 2003.

“This year was perhaps the most satisfying in the 9-year history of the Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition,” says Bill Visnic, senior technical editor for Ward’s AutoWorld magazine and editor of Ward’s Engine & Vehicle Technology Update. “The wide spread of winning engines — from a 6L V-8 turbodiesel for medium-duty pickups to a tiny 1.6L supercharged engine that powers the smallest car in the U.S. market — proves there’s powertrain excellence in almost every segment of the market. Our best engines judges were pleased with the diversity of this year’s 10 Best Engines winners.”

The 2003 edition of the Ward’s 10 Best Engines shows a continuing move towards smaller, more power-dense engines. “There are just two V-8 winners this year,” notes Visnic, who says past Best Engines lists have sometimes been dominated by large-displacement engines. “This year, we selected three outstanding 4-cyl. engines, which actually outnumbered the winning V-8s. And there are five excellent 6-cylinder engines, any of which makes as much power as did many V-8s not all that long ago.”

“This really is the golden age of engine performance,” asserts Visnic, who says that auto makers’ and suppliers’ engineers toil to combine today’s outstanding performance and driveability with the lowest emissions ever achieved. “Although it’s not as sexy as big horsepower numbers,” says Visnic, “one of the industry’s best ongoing stories is its continuing effort to practically eradicate emissions.”

During a two-month test period, six editors from Ward’s Communications evaluated the engines “nominated” from 30 different cars, trucks and SUVs. Scoring encompassed the crucial engine characteristics of power, torque, noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), technical relevance and basic comparative numbers. All engines nominated and tested were in vehicles with a base MSRP under $52,500. “The engines in high-priced vehicles should be outstanding,” says Visnic. “By setting a realistic base price, we ensure the awards have value and relevance to the average consumer.”

Details of the Ward’s 10 Best Engines will be featured in the January issues of Ward’s AutoWorld and Ward’s Engine & Vehicle Technology Update and at

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