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Ward's Announces 10 Best Engines for 2006

December 14, 2005

The editors of Ward's AutoWorld magazine have chosen the 10 Best Engines for 2006, the 12th year of the award. The engines and tested vehicles are: * DaimlerChrysler AG: 5.7L Hemi Magnum OHV V-8 (Charger R/T) * Audi AG: 2L FSI turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Audi A3) * Audi AG: 4.2L DOHC V-8 (Audi S4) * BMW AG: 3L DOHC I-6 (330i) * Ford Motor Co.: 4.6L SOHC V-8 (Mustang GT) * General Motors Corp.: 2L supercharged DOHC I-4 (Chevrolet Cobalt SS) * General Motors Corp.: 2.8L turbocharged DOHC V-6 (Saab 9-3 Aero) * Mazda Motor Corp.: 2.3L DISI turbocharged DOHC I-4 (Mazdaspeed 6) * Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.: 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Infiniti G35 6MT) * Toyota Motor Corp.: 3.5L DOHC V-6 (Lexus IS 350)The 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 once again was named among Ward's 2006 10 Best Engines. This marks the fourth consecutive year that the HEMI has taken this honor—every year since its reintroduction. "HEMI remains the coolest four-letter word in the auto industry," said Bill Visnic, senior technical editor, Ward' s AutoWorld. "The bigger-than-life HEMI V-8 once again impressed the Ward 's 10 Best Engines judges, just as it continues to resonate with customers by racking up impressive installation rates." The versatile 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine is now available in the Chrysler 300, Jeep Commander, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Charger, Dodge Durango, Dodge Magnum and Dodge Ram.Two important engineering developments are front and center for several engines on this year's list: direct injection gasoline (DIG) technology and forced induction. These systems allow engineers to develop engines that generate startling power yet return acceptable fuel economy.Ward’s says DIG technology is emerging as one of the powertrain sector's most promising new developments. Injecting fuel directly into each of the engine's cylinders produces outstanding performance and emissions improvements for new-generation diesels. Engineers now are using the technology for gasoline engines to generate improved low- and mid-range torque and in many cases to conserve fuel.DIG systems are featured on three of this year's Ward's 10 Best Engines winners. The technology is widespread throughout Audi AG's engine lineup. Buyers of Audi's entry-level A3 have access to this year's winning 2L FSI DOHC I-4. The FSI system (an acronym for "Fuel Straight Injection"), combined with a sophisticated variable-geometry turbocharger, helps Audi's diminutive 2L powerhouse produce 100 horsepower per liter—an industry benchmark for performance, Ward’s says.powering the all-new Mazdaspeed6 sport sedan. Mazda Motor Corp.’s winning new 2.3L DISI DOHC I-4 engine combines DIG technology and turbocharging to generate 274 horsepower--a remarkable 119 horsepower per liter. The engine produces 280 lb.-ft. of torque and a respectable 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.Also employing DIG is Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus 3.5L DOHC V-6. Generating a new benchmark of 306 horsepower from its normally aspirated 3.5 liters, the new Lexus V-6 adds a combines DIG with a conventional port fuel-injection system to deliver its high horsepower combined with an impressive EPA fuel economy rating of 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.Superb V-8 performance also is at the heart of two returning Ward's 10 Best Engines winners.Ford Motor Co.'s 4.6L SOHC V-8 returns as a Ward's 10 Best Engines winner for a second year following a significant design change that yields more horsepower and torque. Audi enjoys its second Ward's 10 Best Engines winner for 2006 with its spectacular 4.2L DOHC V-8. Racking up its third consecutive award, the Audi V-8 once again impressed Ward's testers with its remarkable blend of performance and refinement. At 81 horsepower per liter, the Audi 4.2L V-8 remains at the forefront of the class of "premium" V-8s. General Motors Corp. rings in with two impressive winners of 2006 Ward's 10 Best Engines awards. GM makes serious inroads into the affordable performance market with its 2L supercharged DOHC I-4 used in the Cobalt SS performance coupe. Thanks to supercharging and intelligent design, GM engineers squeeze more than 100 hp per liter from their 4-cyl. dynamo, while achieving an impressive 23/29 EPA city/highway fuel economy rating.Also enjoying a first win is GM's 2.8L turbocharged DOHC V-6, currently used exclusively by GM's Saab brand for variants of its 9-3 sport sedan and wagon. The 2.8L DOHC V-6 is a variant of GM's sophisticated "global" V-6 engine architecture, tuned in the Saab application for an outstanding mix of performance and refinement, while underscoring Saab's heritage for turbocharged engines.Taking its unrivaled twelfth consecutive Ward's 10 Best Engines trophy is Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s 3.5L DOHC V-6. It maintains its standing as the only engine to win an award every year since the program's inception. For 2006, Nissan engineers improve the "VQ" V-6 with new levels of power and torque. Its 298 horsepower rivals or beats many V-8s, while delivering the levels of refinement that have been a hallmark of the vaunted "VQ" modular engine series since its inception more than a decade ago.Ward's 10 Best Engines list is rounded out by BMW AG's new 3L DOHC I-6. BMW engineers have dramatically improved the company's hallowed inline 6-cyl. design to produce more power while simultaneously delivering markedly improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. True to BMW's heritage for sophisticatedengineering, the new BMW 3L inline 6-cyl. employs an innovative new construction technique of magnesium and aluminum for the engine block that enabled significant weight reduction.Evaluation CriteriaDuring a two-month test period, six editors from Ward's Communications evaluated engines from 31 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.Details of Ward's 10 Best Engines will be featured in Ward's AutoWorld magazine, Ward's Engine & Vehicle Technology Update newsletter, and the website www.wardsauto.com in January 2006.
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