Ward’s Best Engine List for 2016 Includes Ford and Hyundai

For 23 years, Ward’s has compiled an annual list of the best engines in the automotive world. This list, which recognizes ten exceptional engines based on “horsepower, torque, comparative specs, noise attenuation, observed fuel economy and the application of new technology,” has become something of a holiday treat for automakers over the years; what better present could an automotive engineer receive than to know that the heart of their vehicle is among the best in the business?

But this year’s Ward’s list is unlike any before it: for the first time in its 23 years of engine evaluation, not a single V-8 engine has earned a spot on the Best Engines list.

The writing for this particular shift is on the wall; as WardsAuto Senior Content Director Drew Winter put it, “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.” Automakers are working overtime to get more performance out of smaller, more efficient engines, and the omission of the legendary V8 from Ward’s list seems to indicate that carmakers’ efforts to squeeze great performance out of smaller engines is working.

At Butler, we’re pleased to see engines from two of our dealerships earn a spot on Ward’s list.

The 2.3-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder from the Ford Focus RS made the list, which comes as no surprise to us. Drew Bechard, who is now one of our finance managers, was a Ford salesman when the first Focus RS landed on our lot, and the video we recorded of him putting the Focus through its paces was mostly just Drew giggling like a schoolboy.

We were very happy to see the Hyundai Elantra Eco’s 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder get some much-deserved recognition. The fact that Hyundai engineered such a small engine to produce such normal, responsive performance is a modern marvel. Few cars are as efficient as the Elantra Eco while still driving like a satisfying, adequately-powered car, and it’s gratifying to see that Ward’s felt the same way that we do about the peppy little 4-cylinder.

As exciting as it was to see some of our vehicles on this year’s list, we can hardly wait for next December’s edition of Ward’s 10 Best Engines! Will the V8 make a triumphant return? Will the 2017 Ford Raptor’s 3.5-liter V6 get its just desserts? We’ll be sure to let you know next year!

2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Impresses

2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

To say that the debut version of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid in 2011 flopped would be putting it mildly;  Critics complained it was painfully obvious the car was a hybrid.  But two years later the Korean automaker’s back with a Sonata that’s addressed its issues and hushed the critics.  We recently took the Sonata Hybrid on the road and really liked it.  But don’t just take our word for it.  The New York Daily News  also ran the car through its paces and found it not just adequate but impressive.  The publication applauds the Sonata Hybrid’s new, smoother transition between fuel sources and braking systems, and even declared the ride quality “better than expected.”  Add to that the fact that the vehicle gets 600 miles per tank and you may want to consider whether you need a hybrid!

Hyundai’s First Hybrid

Hyundai is out with its first hybrid vehicle… just now… in 2011.

You may be asking, “What took so long?”  If so, you’re in good company.  Hyundai’s asking that question, too, quite visibly, in fact.  The company wants you to know it’s not that it’s late joining the eco-friendly race.  Rather, Hyundai’s been sitting back, watching the other car manufacturers produce hybrid vehicles that are, yes, more efficient but, according to Hyundai, lacking in other areas.  So, Hyundai watched and waited, gathered information, formulated a plan.  Only when the company could create the product it wanted to see on the road did it put that vision into production.

The company’s goal was to disprove three commonly held perceptions:
– Hybrids are weird looking.
– Hybrids are too small.
– Hybrids have no guts.

The result is the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, a 4-door sedan that looks nothing like the hybrids we’re used to.

It was worth the wait.