The annual Ward's Auto list of "10 Best Engines" is out, but not every one of its award-winners is actually an engine.
This year, Ward's expanded its award criteria to encompass alternative powertrains, so there are two non-combustion units in what the industry trade journal justifiably calls the most diverse field of winners yet.
One winner is the motor that powers the BMW i3 electric car. One of four battery-electric powertrains evaluated, Ward's said it was impressed by the BMW motor's relatively broad power band. It added that the optional i3 REx gasoline range extender is a plus.
Also recognized was the hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain of the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell.
While it's only on sale in California in limited numbers, the Tucson still became the first fuel-cell vehicle ever to win this award.
In addition to the coup of getting a fuel-cell car to showrooms before competitors Honda and Toyota, Ward's noted the unobtrusiveness of the Tucson powertrain, praising the way Hyundai has packaged its fuel-cell stack under the hood.
It called the Tucson Fuel Cell driving experience "in a good way, completely ordinary."
2014 MINI Cooper hardtop, Northeastern road test, Aug 2014
Several fuel-efficient internal combustion engines were also honored, including the 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine used in the MINI Cooper, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Drive-E T5 from the Volvo S60.
New entries are pitted against winners from last year. Fuel-efficient engines making a repeat appearance included the Ford 1.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost three-cylinder, Volkswagen 1.8-liter turbocharged four, and Chrysler's 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6.
In addition to the inclusion of alternative powertrains, this year's major theme was small, turbocharged engines. Judges looked at a record 15 turbocharged fours this year, as well as the Ford and MINI three-cylinder units.
The rest of the list includes engines focused more on performance than economy: the Subaru WRX's 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer-four, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray's 6.2-liter V-8, and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat's supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8.