Hooniverse Asks: What were the most significant engines of the last decade?

As we enter the 2020s we can see a change in the automotive world. While the 2010’s showed us that hybrids don’t have to be boring econoboxes and that electric vehicles can used like conventional vehicles, the ’10s also gave us some spectacular internal combustion engines. FCA’s 6.2-liter Hellcat is the most obvious one to me but there are many others. The Ford GT 350’s flat-crank 5.2-liter V8, for instance.

The buzz in the automotive industry has for some time been electric vehicles. That is driven by buzz in the world that is climate change. While we are still some time away from everyone going full EV, this and various laws around the world are not doing the internal combustion engine any favors. In fact, one day we may look at the ’10s as the last great decade of the ICE.

With that, today we are asking – what are some of the best engines from 2010 to 2019?

 

34 Comments

  1. Technically this started production in 2009 but, I’d have to go with the 3.5L EcoBoost (both generations). It’s in everything from Endurance racers to trucks of the work and off-road variety all the way down to the Flex. Versatile performance is pretty neat.

    1. It convinced truck buyers, the most stubborn demographic ever, that gasoline turbo motors are good. That on its own is pretty much a miracle.

    2. EcoBoost took the public perception of turbo chargers from exotic, high-performance specialty hardware to just another engine feature, and one that you don’t have to fret about before buying. This helps the environment when those engines are driven (very) gently and increases capability when that is needed.

    3. It’s pretty impressive in everything but acoustics– the exhaust sound is lousy. I’m guessing the twin turbos don’t help the matter. My brother-in-law has been desperately trying to find an aftermarket setup to make my sister’s Flex sound better, but so far hasn’t had much luck.

  2. I have to agree with you on both points. I used to enjoy dropping V8s into chassis in which they were never intended, but I’ve never had any desire for a SBC. The latest LS is admittedly a beast, and I’m glad GM has retained the pushrod architecture. I always vote the LS down as an engine swap option, though, because they’re so ubiquitous in the car-customizing world that they’re just… boring.

  3. I’d give a vote to Mazda’s Skyactiv architecture for keeping the non-turbo flame and also the new Skyactiv X compression ignition engine.

    1. This was going to be my vote as well, Skyactiv X is really a remarkable thing, lost in the hybrid and electric hype.

  4. I have to agree with you on both points. I used to enjoy dropping V8s into chassis in which they were never intended, but I’ve never had any desire for a SBC. The latest LS is admittedly a beast, and I’m glad GM has retained the pushrod architecture. I always vote the LS down as an engine swap option, though, because they’re so ubiquitous in the car-customizing world that they’re just… boring.

    1. but it’s just….the best. reliability, availability, size, aftermarket, cost, oil pan selection, etc. when you break it you can literally order a brand new one from Jegs. i understand the desire to do something different, but swaps are fraught with complication as it is. why not just make life easy?

      1. With regards to bang-for-the-buck in modern V8s, the LS is definitely a good choice. It’s probably the least expensive crate-engine V8, but there are a lot of options from the salvage yards that go for cheap, in which case you can possibly even get the attached transmission/clutch, wiring, computer, etc. I’m not arguing that the current LS isn’t an awesome factory engine, only that it’s an uninspiring swap.

        When I was a kid, it seemed like the status quo in custom car builds was “SBC Everything”, and now it has become “LS Everything”. To my thinking, it’s just a very generic, un-creative option for what is otherwise a very creative hobby. When I see an article detailing an LS swap, I skim right past it. But maybe an S2000 drivetrain in a Volvo 1800? Or an inline 6 from a Trailblazer dropped into an early-50s Pontiac? Those are much more interesting builds, and the engines both fit more reasonably and give significant performance improvements without overkill. I’d love to see someone eventually put GM’s new 3.0L Duramax inline-6 diesel into a W114 Mercedes. With swaps, it’s more about achieving a certain character for the car, and I don’t think making them all “Camaro-like” is very interesting.

        1. I hear ya on the character bit, but if the character you’re going for is “fast” and you’re going to all the trouble of an engine swap, why not install the best engine where it’s appropriate? especially if it fits without a ton of hacking. from a power density perspective, with respect to both size and cost, that’s pretty much the LS.

          1. To each his own, friend– I think we’re looking at this from two different angles. I can’t argue about the practical sense of the LS if the goal is simply more power. It really is the modern equivalent of the SBC– reliable, comparatively affordable, huge aftermarket support, etc. If I’m going to the trouble and expense, though, I want to still care about my car after I’ve grown accustomed to all the extra horses. Engine swaps aren’t usually a practical endeavor. It’s the challenge requiring creative solutions in order to make something interesting. I think I’d ultimately be disappointed if I all I accomplished was yet… another… LS… swap.

            To your point, the LS’s power density is hard to deny. But just like Budweiser can get you cheap-drunk if that’s your goal, why wouldn’t choose a nice craft IPA instead and actually enjoy getting there?

          2. To each his own, friend– I think we’re looking at this from two different angles. I can’t argue about the practical sense of the LS if the goal is simply more power. It really is the modern equivalent of the SBC– reliable, comparatively affordable, huge aftermarket support, etc. If I’m going to the trouble and expense, though, I want to still care about my car after I’ve grown accustomed to all the extra horses. Engine swaps aren’t usually a practical endeavor. It’s the challenge requiring creative solutions in order to make something interesting. I think I’d ultimately be disappointed if I all I accomplished was yet… another… LS… swap.

            To your point, the LS’s power density is hard to deny. But just like Budweiser can get you cheap-drunk if that’s your goal, why wouldn’t choose a nice craft IPA instead and actually enjoy getting there?

  5. i think there’s a case to be made for the EcoBoost triple. 1.0 liters, integrated exhaust manifold, tiny turbo, and they pulled that stunt of bringing the block to the LA Auto Show in a carry-on bag. i test drove a Fiesta with the 1.0 and a 5-speed, and it was a pretty peppy combo. is it the future of gasoline engines in America? probably not. should it be? maybe.

    maybe not the most impactful engine of the decade, but one of my favorites. i was going to buy one until the same dealer i tested that 1.0 at offered to let me drive an ST. I was pretty into all the nerd shit you got with the 1.0, but the ST was the end of that.

      1. hmm but is that the same as the 1.0? i was really into that engine for the neat form factor more than the power or cylinder count. that it was also kinda fun to drive was a bonus.

        1. It’s a 1.5L so it would have to be a different block etc but I would expect similar character.

          Not sure why they have a cast iron block either, so it’s not too light at 97kg or only 17kg less than the 1.6L 4-cyl ecoboost.

          1. for the 1.0 it was something about emissions. for some arcane reason they were able to lower startup emissions with the cast iron block.

  6. The world’s first production variable compression ratio engine. Just when we’re starting to think that Mazda has all the really good engineers, Nissan introduces this.

  7. Voodoo. Who would have imagined that a major manufacturer would produce such an engine in this day and age? Never mind a manufacturer that’s trying to convince the American market that small displacement turbos are the way to go. I mean, what’s next? A new 7.3L with pushrods?

  8. The world’s first production variable compression ratio engine. Just when we’re starting to think that Mazda has all the really good engineers, Nissan introduces this.

    1. to me the most incredible thing about this is how little attention it’s getting. this is the biggest modification to the four stroke cycle since the rotary, and it’s a beautiful piece of engineering, but they put it in an airport rental so nobody gaf. all we get is some cringey radio ads.

    2. I thought Saab made the first variable compression engine? Or did that never make it to production?

  9. I recall hearing about Achates’s opposed-piston engine a couple of years ago, and I think one was even installed in an F-150. I find this design interesting (an emissions-friendly two-stroke!), but haven’t heard much more about it. IIRC, it was a smallish 3-cylinder (6-piston) engine with maybe 250hp/400lb-ft and was achieving high-30s mpg.

      1. Yeah, I think they’re pretty common in ships and tanks. They’ve just historically never been terribly efficient or clean.

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