For decades, Ward’s 10 Best Engines list consisted of nothing but gasoline powered internal combustion engines, most of them V-8s. But things are changing in the world of cars and Ward’s is changing with it. For 2016, three of the top ten powerplants on its “best engines” list are hybrids. Namely, they are those hybrid power units found in the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid, and the 2016 Toyota Prius.
The Prius has made the list three times before – in 2001, 2004 and 2010 (those years corresponding with the launch dates of each generation- natch). Toyota’s ground breaking Hybrid Synergy Drive has since found its way into a total of 18 Toyota and Lexus automobiles- and a few Nissans, as well! For 2016, however, that system has been totally redesigned to make the gasoline side of the equation even more fuel efficient, particularly during highway driving.
According to Green Car Reports, Ward’s was impressed by Toyota’s use of cooled exhaust gas recirculation and called it “quieter and silkier” than its predecessor.
The Hyundai Sonota Plug-in Hybrid also make the list. It uses the same 2.0 liter engine as the standard Sonata Hybrid, but adds a more powerful electric motor and a 9.8 kWh lithium ion battery.
Interestingly, even though the Sonata PHEV is rated at 27 miles of electric only range, but Ward’s reports the car still had 8 miles of range remaining after a 30 mile commute. That’s an important number, because the majority of Americans drive less than 35 miles a day- so they’ll be able to do most (or all!) of that driving using battery power alone.
The 2016 Chevy Volt shines when it comes to battery only range. It is rated at 52 miles of electric only range. It’s onboard gasoline engine functions solely as a range extender the vast majority of the time. It can be coupled directly to the drivetrain under very limited circumstances, but only to help the driver get home if battery power fails completely.
Of the three cars, only the Volt relies almost exclusively on battery power (1n extensive study performed by the Idaho National Laboratory finds the Chevy Volt functions as a pure electric car 94% of the time). Floor it away from a traffic light, and it uses only its dual electric motors to move forward. Try that in the Prius or the Sonata and the gas engine will kick in almost immediately!
It’s all great reading- and shows that Ward’s is quite willing and able to adapt to its times … and it’s not just a fan of hybrids. Last year, the magazine included the electric motor from the BMW i3 on its list, as well as the fuel cell powertrain found in the Hyundai Tucson FCEV!
Source: Wards, via Green Car Reports.