by Excerpts from Tom Murphy, WardsAuto Dec. 12, 2012
From a sophisticated bread-and-butter 4-cyl. to the world’s most powerful production V-8, the winners of the 2013 Ward’s 10 Best Engines awards stand as a tribute to internal combustion while auto makers wrestle with fuel-economy standards requiring a growing number of zero-emissions electric vehicles in the future.
Meanwhile, gasoline-fueled engines become more efficient and power-dense every year, and the majority of winners (five) for the second year in a row are 4-cyl. engines.
The transformation within the powertrain community has been rapid as engineering teams now slather attention on downsized engines. As recently as 2005, not a single 4-banger was honored.
Now in its 19th year, the Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition pits the latest engines available in the U.S. market against the returning winners from the previous year. To be eligible, an engine must be available in a production vehicle on sale within the first quarter of 2013 and with a base price of less than $55,000.
WardsAutoeditors drove the newest applications for the 2.0L EcoBoost in the Focus ST hot hatch and approached 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) without being gentle, then switched to the 2-ton Taurus family sedan and managed better than 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km), even loaded down with passengers. It’s tremendously versatile.
Honda returns to the Ward’s 10 Best Engines list with two wins for powerplants in the all-new Accord: the 2.4L 4-cyl. that represents Honda’s first direct-injection engine in North America, as well as a 3.5L port-injection V-6.
The clean-sheet I-4 is stunningly efficient. Over the course of a 537-mile (864-km) test drive, two editors exceeded 33 mpg (7.1 L/100 km) in this generously proportioned sedan that gets up to speed with no problem thanks to 189 hp, ample low-end torque and a wonderful mid-range punch.
A 6-speed manual transmission in the Accord Sport amps up this engine’s fun quotient, but driving enthusiasts also will find the all-new continuously variable transmission, developed internally, to be surprisingly smooth and enjoyable. With excellent transmissions, this isn't just a bread-and-butter 4-cyl. engine. Now it's a piled-high deli sandwich.
The SOHC 60-degree V-6, a Ward’s 10 Best Engines winner in 2005, 2008 and 2009, bows with several significant updates in the Accord and makes a convincing argument that conventional port-injection engines can be powerful and fuel-stingy, while being less expensive to build.
WardsAutoeditors say this engine “positively storms” and “pulls like a freight train at hard throttle,” while feeling much stronger than the 278 hp and 252 lb.-ft. (342 Nm) of torque on the spec sheet.
On the efficiency front, Honda’s VCM cylinder-deactivation system is improved, shutting down three cylinders at a time during light loads. In the past, the system deactivated two or three cylinders at a time. In our real-world evaluations, the Accord V-6 topped 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km) for several editors, unheard of for most any 6-cyl. engine.
Every 2013 Accord has a standard rearview camera to help take the guesswork out of backing up.
Rearview cameras are already standard on Honda's trucks and SUVs. Now with the 2013Accord, they're coming to the Honda passenger-car line, too. Accord has a single-view camera, while EX-L and higher models have a multi-angle rearview camera like the one on CR-V.
When you're maneuvering in tight quarters, a rearward view is priceless. And in the newAccord, it's standard.
The 2013 Accord 4-cylinder has over 177 lb.-ft. of torque – more than the 2012 Camry or 2012 Malibu 4-cylinder engines offer.
The midsize sedan field is pretty competitive, so it's nice to come out of the gate with an advantage drivers will enjoy day in and day out. Accord's Earth Dreams™ direct-injected engine offers spectacular fuel efficiency coupled with much stronger torque than the previous-generation engine – a whopping 16 lb.-ft. increase. And that great torque is right in the rpm operating range you'll often experience in typical driving. That means confident merging and easy passing.
What if there was a way to put away your phone and still stay connected to the people, music and media you love? With HondaLink™, there is.
The all-new 2013 Accord marks the debut of HondaLink™, a new in-vehicle connectivity system that features the first automotive OEM application of Aha® by Harman. HondaLink provides a personalized experience that connects drivers to thousands of cloud-based news, information and media feeds from around the world, using an intuitive, audio-system based interface. The HondaLink smartphone application allows owners to preset content on their phone. Once in the car, they can enjoy personalized content accessible via voice recognition, steering wheel-mounted controls and in-dash audio system controls. With a tethered smartphone serving as a conduit to a wealth of cloud-based media, HondaLink creates a unique, connected driving experience.
Through the Aha service, for example, HondaLink users can listen to Facebook and Twitter audio newsfeeds, podcasts from NPR, land location-based personalized restaurant listings from Yelp, and access Internet music services such as Slacker. The service is free and instantly accessible from the cloud.
In addition, content available from HondaLink will grow as the system continues to expand its services for Honda owners. HondaLink also incorporates Pandora® Internet radio and voice-to-text SMS text services with pre-programmed responses. It all works together to help Accord owners stay in touch and in control.
Earth Dreams™ direct injection technology stretches fuel and pumps up performance in the 2013 Accord 4-cylinder. Conventional engines using multi-port fuel injection squirt fuel into the air that's flowing into the engine – right before it enters each combustion chamber and goes "boom." The mixture gets where it needs to go, but not always in the most efficient balance of fuel and air.
With Accord's Earth Dreams™ 2.4-liter, 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine, direct injection delivers fuel right into each combustion chamber. Just the right amount of fuel in just the right place means better combustion and greater efficiency. That helps power and fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. The driver is pleased – and so is the Earth.
Accord V-6 has increased horsepower and torque from a re-engineered 3.5-liter, 24-valve SOHC i-VTEC® engine. Accord's newly reworked and more powerful available V-6 can be paired with a new 6-speed automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Normally, greater power cuts into fuel efficiency, but not in the 2013 Accord. With features like i-VTEC®, Variable Cylinder Management™ and the available 6-speed automatic transmission, Accord V-6 is targeted to achieve top-of-class fuel efficiency. More performance, less fuel costs; what's not to like?
On Thursday, Aug. 16, Honda will start mass production of its new Earth Dreams engines and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) for the all-new 9th-generation Accord. This will be the first opportunity to see production of Honda's next-generation CVT on a new assembly line at Honda Transmission Mfg., which resulted in more than 100 new jobs. In addition, the Anna plant is starting production of a new direct-injection four-cylinder engine and its next-generation V6 for the 2013 Accord models.
On Monday, Aug. 20, Honda will host an event to mark the production launch of the all-new 2013 Honda Accord at the Marysville Auto Plant. Media attending the event will have the opportunity to interview Honda leadership, the Accord new-model team and government leaders. Launch of the new Accord is taking place as we prepare to celebrate 30 years of Honda auto production in North America, which started in Ohio at the Marysville Auto plant on Nov. 1, 1982. Historical generations of the Honda Accord will be on display during this event.