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Ford, GM Engines Make Ward’s 2009 10 Best Engines List; GM Tops IEEE Spectrum Patent Scorecard

2007 Patent Pipeline Power rankings for the automotive sector. Click to enlarge.

Ward’s Automotive Group has named Ford’s redesigned 2.5-liter engine for the Escape and Mariner hybrids and GM’s 3.6L direct injection V-6 VVT engine to AutoWorld magazine’s 2009 “Ten Best Engines” list for North America. Ward’s will present the 10 Best Engine awards at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Separately, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) named GM first in the automotive sector in its IEEE Spectrum 2007 Patent Scorecard. Ford came in fourth in that ranking, behind Toyota in third and Nippondenso in second place.

Ford 2.5L. Ford’s 2.5-liter, dual-overhead cam I-4 hybrid engine (earlier post) was the only engine for hybrid vehicles selected as a winner for this year’s list. This is the fifth year of production for the Escape Hybrid but the first year for the SUV to use Ford’s new 2.5-liter engine. Previous models used a 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine.

Ford engineers have done a tremendous job,” said Drew Winter, editor in chief of Ward’s Autoworld magazine. “With hybrids in particular, software is such a big thing. The software that regulates how the power is transferred back and forth from gas to electric, when it’s done badly, can be jerky and unsettling, but when it’s done well, it really elevates driving pleasure. It’s the difference between a superior powertrain and a science experiment.

The 2009 Ford Escape and Mariner hybrid models use the new 2.5-liter I-4 designed to run on the Atkinson combustion cycle. A new engine processor enables nearly imperceptible transitions between gas and electric vehicle mode. The hybrid models also feature a new powertrain damping system to reduce vibrations and feedback to the driver and other vehicle occupants.

The entire hybrid system in both SUVs was completely developed and engineered by Ford, which holds several hundred patents on this exclusive hybrid system. The Escape and Mariner hybrids deliver fuel economy of 34 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

GM 3.6L DI V-6 VVT. This is the second year in a row the 3.6L direct injection V-6 VVT has been named to the Ten Best Engines list for North America. GM Powertrain’s 3.6L V-6 VVT with direct injection is GM’s highest-output V-6 and one of the most fuel-efficient in GM's high-feature engine family, delivering a 3% fuel economy improvement over its predecessor. The application of direct injection also reduces cold-start hydrocarbon emissions by 25 percent.

The engine is applied in the Cadillac CTS and will be available in the 2009 Buick Enclave, Cadillac STS, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and Saturn Vue 2-Mode Hybrid.

GM also offers direct injection on its Ecotec 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the 2009 Chevrolet HHR SS and Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Red Line.

IEEE patent scorecard. IEEE’s Patent Scorecard, based on a survey that measures the depth and breadth of patents filed in 2007, is a barometer of which companies are driving technological innovation. GM’s 544 patents carried a top, adjusted pipeline power score of 839, which indicates the company’s overall patent power.

The Pipeline Power score is derived by multiplying the company’s patent count by the product of four other variables:

  • Pipeline Growth represents the firm’s 2007 patent activity, relative to its average performance in the five previous years.

  • Pipeline Impact indicates how frequently all 2007 patents cited a company’s patents from the previous five years.

  • Pipeline Generality is a measure of the variety of technologies drawing on a company’s patents.

  • Pipeline Originality measures the variety of the technologies upon which an organization’s patents build.

An Adjusted Pipeline Impact factor eliminates self-citation. The final score, Adjusted Pipeline Power, is an estimate of a company’s overall patent power.


John Taylor

So .. one of the big three North American automakers got on the "ten best North American engines" list ...

and this is NEWS!

(no wonder the big 3 are looking at going bankrupt)


John: To be fair:

In top 10 places:

Japan = 5 or 50%
USA = 3 or 30%
Germany = 1 or 10%
Canada = 1 or 10%

In top 15 places:

Japan = 8 or 53%
USA = 4 or 27%
Germany = 1 or 7 %
Canada = 1 or 7 %
Italy = 1 or 7%

It seems that many excellent products (specially diesels) from Germany, France, England, Sweeden, etc were not considered.


I thought the Nissan V6 VVEL (VariableValveEvent&Lift) would make it.

Nate H.

I'll still take my trusty Honda K24A 2.4L engine with i-VTEC.

166,200 miles, trouble-free, It makes Nate H.'s "10 Best Engines List."

Nate H.
Dover, Ohio


Just wondering if that new Ford 2.5L 4-cil is based on Mazda's 2.3L engine.
It was first introduced in Mazda6, in 2002.

GM's Ecotec 4-cil is almost certainly developed by German Opel.

Traditionally American 4-cil engines have been inferior to European and Japanese ones.
V6 and V8 were American specialty. As well as big diesels for trucks and heavy machinery.

Max Reid

Its great news, hope the Big-3 will catchup. All they have to do is forget the SUV's and concentrate more on selling cars and CUV's.

Toyota is trying to shove the big-suv's on american throats, no wonder they are going to make loss for the 2nd half of this year.


Max Reid:

Agree with you. USA's Toyota had too much influence on the type of vehicles Toyota should produce for the USA market.

Ii is another demonstration of how deep is our acquired addiction for dinosaurs and large gas guzzlers. We have been brain washed for decades!!


Your appreciation of USA built 4-cyls ICE is representative of what the Big-3 have locally produced in the last 40+ years. Will they ever match the reliability of Honda, Toyota and many other good Euopean 4-cyls ICE? They did not even come close in the last 40 years.


For what it is worth, it seems the Big 2 are finally investing more in 4-cylinder engines than V8s. Examples of new/upcoming Detroit 4-cylinders:

1.4L turbo (40 mpg hwy in Cruze)
2.3L DI (can and will power 4000 lb+ vehicles)
2.0L DI turbo

1.6L DI turbo
2.5L (mentioned in this article)
2.5L DI turbo (can and will power 5000 lb+ vehicles)

Not that being able to move an overweight vehicle is a good thing, but it shows how pervasively they plan to apply them. Now that Detroit's viability requires it, I suspect we'll get some good 4-cylinders. They've been making V8s that run on 4 or 8 cylinders reliably for years now.



I would like to believe you but they have a long way to go before they catch up.

Will the Japanese and Europeans stand still while the Big-3 go through their catching up exercise?

Reliability takes a few years to demonstrate.

Justin VP

I'm not sure why you guys put the europeans up on pedestals. VW makes comlete crap that is always broken down, Mercedes isn't exactly reliable. BMW isn't bad, but not excactly the most realible, either.

Maybe they sell some good engines and cars in Euroland, but much good from them here in the US.

I think GM and Ford have really leapfrogged the Euros, in terms of quality and realiability. The Japanese are still the leaders, in both efficiency and reliability.


Justin VP, don't forget the crap from Audi. worst of the worst.

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