3 Very Different Approaches to Electric earn 2018 ’10 Best Engine’ recognition


Honda Clarity takes electric mainstream 

One of the most important recognitions in the automotive industry today is Wards Auto’s “10 Best Engine” award. For 2018, 10 mainstream automakers earn their ranking with segment topping engine innovations, 3 of them electrified. As stated by Wards Auto, “It’s the engine that sells the car.” That’s where live road testing comes into play.

For Wards, and drive-review journalist like myself, second only to seat comfort and road handling dynamics, comes the engine, or in the case of our EV winners, the multiple electric motors. In short, without a responsive throttle, and notable hill climbing torque, a car is just a car.

For 2018, “electrification” is more than just a buzz word. It’s an auto industry-wide, near future forward directive, with far-reaching real-world-implications, directed toward the reduction of emissions — an increase in combined horsepower and torque — and, a reduction of our dependency on fossil fuels, foreign and domestic.

2018 Honda Clarity FCV: Space-age technology transitions into in Wards’ top 10

A very unique and highly technical 3rd generation Clarity Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric came to market in mid-2017, as a 2018 model. While not the only fuel cell electric on the market today, it’s the largest, and the most refined. I’ve had the rare privilege of experience all 3 Clarity electric car variants. Read my latest Clarity first drive impression here. For me, if I had access to a compressed nitrogen refueling station in Westen Oregon, I’d lease a Honda Clarity. With a stated 366-mile drive range between fill-ups, Clarity eliminates range anxiety, is premium sedan comfortable, torque-happy, and instant-on throttle responsive. Furthermore, it’s as quiet as a public library after closing time.

Chevy Bolt mainstreams EV

2018 Honda Clarity FCV shares “10 Best Engine” recognition with another pure electric, Chey Volt, and Chrysler Pacifica — the only hybrid electric vehicle to make Wards’ list for 2018. Back in early 2017, when I drove the then just released Chevy Bolt through the outbacks of Marin County, and the streets of San Francisco, I was sold. Under real-world weather and road conditions, I bettered Chevy Bolt’s stated range of 238 miles. Within minutes of taking the wheel, you’ll forget you’re driving electric. My range anxiety dissipated with every mile driven. As stated by Wards Auto and others: Chevy Bolt normalizes the electric car driving experience. Bolt is effectively mainstreaming electric in North America.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica’s aluminum/magnesium liftgate saves 18.5 pounds (PRNewsfoto/FCA US LLC)

2018 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient minivan on the road today

Last year, I drove Chrysler Pacifica on the Big Island of Hawaii while attending Honda’s Odyssey rollout. I like Pacifica’s overall handling, seat comfort, and adult-sized 3-row seating. Pacifica takes the Wards’ nod for Best 10 accolades with exceptional extended electric-only drive range, (30+ miles) and a best in segment-topping fuel efficiency rating of 30+/highway. Read about the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica here.

1/3rd electrified: I see this shift of 10 Best Engine winners as a validation of a recognized trend in the Auto Industry

With the auto industry trending toward electric car mainstreaming, our friend and Green Car Journal publisher Ron Cogan tells The Advanced Car that 2017 signaled a shift in the automotive industry, away from the conventional internal combustion engine. I believe that the Wards Auto 10 Best Engine countdown confirms Ron’s assertion. I look to 2018 as an epic EV development and marketing year on a worldwide scale.

Photo Attributions: Parks R. McCants 2018, Fiat Chrysler 2017


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