Hooniverse Asks: What Current Car Company Has The Best All-Around Engine?

Toyota Optimal Drive 1.33-litre Dual VVT-i petrol engine with Stop&Start
While the term “workhorse” is still in common usage in first world countries like our own, actual workhorses are not all that ubiquitous any more. One of the main reasons for that is automation, both in transportation and in industry.
Today, what we call workhorses are generally the mechanical tools that serve us the best and most loyally, and of those automotive engines are some of the most important. It’s hard to think of what could be considered a truly bad engine these days, but then it’s also somewhat difficult to single out which might be the best of the best.
That however, is exactly what I would like from you today. What I want to know is what is, in your opinion, the best all-around engine that an automaker offers at present. Not the most kick-ass, but the most well-rounded.
Image: Automobilesreview

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  1. P161911 Avatar

    GM LS-x V-8. From 600+ HP supercharged versions to workhorse versions that can return mid-20s mpg in a Tahoe.

  2. Kiefmo Avatar

    Honda’s J-series V6. Ranges (currently) from 3.0L to 3.7L, and makes anywhere from ~240hp to ~310hp, which doesn’t sound like much range, but the damned thing is found in so many vehicles that it’s just absurd. It can be had extremely cheaply, and makes for a beastly swap into smaller Hondas that never offered them from the factory.
    Despite being found in pedestrian vehicles, it’s got excellent responsiveness and a great midrange wallop. And, when the aftermarket decides to breathe on it, can be pressurized up to over 1000hp (though the only stock pieces at that point are the block, crank. and intake manifold).

  3. Borkwagen Avatar

    I’d say a tie between the Toyota GR and the Nissan VQ: Mid-3L of Japanese reliability, power, and ubiquity. Plus you can throw the 2GR into an MR2 and make an Evora-killer.

  4. 0A5599 Avatar

    You can’t get more all-around than a radial engine.

    1. Harry Callahan Avatar
      Harry Callahan

      I bet that has a 50/50 weight distribution….!

      1. Hatchtopia Avatar

        50% behind the rear axle / 50% in front

        1. Vairship Avatar

          50% left rear wheel, 50% right rear wheel?

  5. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

    The Viper V10. It has so much low end torque you can pull away from a stop without touching the accelerator, but doesn’t make peak power until 6200rpm. It will happily cruise at sub-2000rpm on the freeway returning 20mpg (which, let’s be honest, isn’t bad for 8.4l) or blast around a track between 4-7k for hours. Physically, it’s not much larger than an LSx. All thanks to one of the most innovative valve systems of recent years.

    1. nanoop Avatar

      While not exactly my interpretation of “allround” – I am impressed by that VVT solution. Did they have it from the very beginning?

      1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

        No, it was added in 2008 when they increased the displacement from 8.3 to 8.4l. The 8-liter cars made far more torque than power, meaning there wasn’t much point revving them past 5500rpm. The 8.3s held the power band longer (and were smoother) but it wasn’t until the 8.4 that it made power right up to redline.
        And as for the all-rounder-ness, I chose to interpret the question as which engine, independent of the platform it’s installed in, is the most versatile, and in that way of thinking there isn’t really anything the 8.4 can’t do… except save fuel. It’s even competitive with the LS3 and LSX in hp/lb (640/625 vs. 430/400 or 640/600).

        1. nanoop Avatar

          Oh, I don’t mind your interpretation at all – I don’t follow recent engine developments too closely, so I am glad you pointed out that cam.

  6. CruisinTime Avatar

    Ford has the Ecoboost series ,quite versatile and efficient.
    V6 3.5: 3496 cc (213 CID)
    V6 2.7: 2694 cc (164 CID)
    I4 2.0: 1999 cc (122 CID)
    I4 1.6: 1596 cc (97 CID)
    I3 1.0: 995 cc (60.44 CID)

    1. JayP Avatar

      New V6 3.0L in the MKZ.
      Ecoboost engines are in Ford, Lincoln, Volvo, Jag and Land Rover.

    2. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      I have the 1.5 in my Fusion. Plenty of power and 35 MPG highway.

      1. Harry Callahan Avatar
        Harry Callahan

        Yes, but I have a 2.5 na in my Mazda6 (direct competitor) and got 37.8 highway this week.

  7. Professor Lavahot Avatar
    Professor Lavahot

    GM’s 3.6L DI V6 is in everything, from a surprisingly quick rental Impala to the RWD Colorado to whatever alphanumeric creasy FWD SUV it is that Cadillac sells. I liked it in the Impala, but will it receive the love of the ages like the 3800 did?

    1. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
      Dean Bigglesworth

      I liked it in my rental Impala. At least until one day later when it threw a CEL and Hertz couldn’t fix it so swapped it for an Optima with a rather miserable 2.4.

  8. HyenaGo Avatar

    BMW 3.0 I6

  9. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    good power, dead reliable, everyone besides me hates the sound.

  10. mad_science Avatar

    I see engines as a box with 3 important properties: power output, weight, and volume.
    Really really hard to beat an LS when optimizing for that. Other leaders are probably the 4 or 3 cylinder EBs. While no longer current, an angry Ford small block is pretty good for power/weight/space.

    1. Harry Callahan Avatar
      Harry Callahan

      If you view engines as boxes, how can you be an enthusiast?
      I view engines as beautiful creatures, each with its own personality and disposition. From the stolid hum of a Dodge slant six, to the obnoxious wail of an old GMC Detroit Diesel 6-71, there are some VERY engaging engines you should meet!
      –A 3.0L Italian V12 may not be efficient in any measurable way–except in its ability to transform hydrocarbons into lusty sex!

    2. Dean Bigglesworth Avatar
      Dean Bigglesworth

      The three most important properties are how it delivers it’s power, how it sounds, and throttle response. Nearly all new cars over here in Europe come with small four-pot turbos in either gas or diesel, and nearly all are “good” but incredibly boring.

  11. Harry Callahan Avatar
    Harry Callahan

    There has been a disturbance in The Force! 16 entries thus far, and not one mention of the sbc 350. Perhaps time truly has marched on. Four barrel carburetor, anyone…?

  12. Harry Callahan Avatar
    Harry Callahan

    For me, the definition of a “bad engine” in today’s world is one with a timinig belt which requires periodic replacement. If said belt drives an interference engine, worse still.

  13. Harry Callahan Avatar
    Harry Callahan

    I really like the Mazda “skyactive” 2.5L found in Mazda6 and CX-5. Not big on power, but the long stroke design and 13:1 cpmpression makes lovely smooth torque. My 250 mile blast up I-5 in central CA yesterday returned 38 mpg in my M6. A very quietly impressive engine!