Auto Tech

Electrics comprise 30 percent of Wards 10 Best Engines list for 2016

Unlike last year, when standalone electric motors appeared on the list, this year's juiced-up winners are involved in hybrids and plug-ins.

2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

Efficiency be damned: The Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang's flat-plane-crank V8 ended up on the Wards list, sandwiched between several green offerings.

Celso Bulgatti/CNET

Every year, Wards Auto releases its list of the 10 best engines from the last year. As we move toward our inevitable electrified future, we're seeing more and more EV representation on the list. This year, the Wards 10 Best Engines list contains three electric drivetrains, the most ever.

These engines aren't picked just because they're fun to drive. Wards' editors factor in traditional stats like horsepower, torque and fuel economy, but the application of modern technology is also a major player. If it forces the competition to play catch-up, it's in the running. Furthermore, the vehicles that contain these motors must have a base price lower than $61,000, so you won't see any supercar engines on here.

Each electric power train on the list comes from a different kind of electric vehicle. There's one from a standard hybrid (the new Toyota Prius), one from an extended-range electric vehicle (the new Chevrolet Volt) and one from a more traditional plug-in hybrid (the new Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid). Each car mentioned above carries a four-cylinder gas engine, but its use varies from helping the wheels to charging the batteries.

Two other four-cylinder engines appear on the list, as well -- the turbocharged-and-supercharged unit from the 2016 Volvo XC90 and the turbocharged flat-four from the Subaru WRX. Three six-cylinder gas engines also popped up -- one from the new BMW 340i, one from the new Nissan Maxima and one that lives in both the Chevrolet Camaro and the Cadillac ATS.

There are two outliers. The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's diesel-drinking six-cylinder engine earned a spot on the Wards Auto list, as did the flat-plane-crank eight-cylinder found in the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang.

Wondering where VW's representation is? According to Wards Auto, "Volkswagen Group automakers were barred from participating this year because of its diesel emissions scandal." Looks like your mother was right -- cheaters never win in the long run.