Designers get lots of glory. All of it well-deserved, considering the emotions they evoke with sleek offerings such as the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200, unveiled this week at the 25th annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
But another yearly Detroit event – Ward’s 10 Best Engines – balances the auto-industry limelight by honoring powertrain engineers, a group of professionals whose work moves people emotionally and physically.
The competition marked its 20th anniversary this week with an awards ceremony where Chrysler Group claimed two trophies. One went to the potent 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 that powers the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee midsize SUV to a best-in-class 730+ miles of driving range.
And when test results are official, the new turbodiesel will provide the 2014 Ram 1500 pickup with a best-in-class highway fuel-economy rating — an achievement held by the 2013 Ram 1500 equipped with Chrysler Group’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, one of Ward’s 10 Best for three consecutive years.
The second Chrysler Group bauble acknowledged the Fiat 500e’s best-in-class, 87-mile driving range. Its performance is delivered courtesy of a zippy 83-kW electric motor – the only 10-Best winner “that doesn’t have pistons,” quipped Bob Lee, Chrysler Group Vice President and Head of Engine, Powertrain and Electrified Propulsion Systems Engineering.
The 500e’s electric-drive system also was the lone “engine” to garner a speeding ticket. It went to a WardAuto judge, who will go nameless here. But he has a confident grin and firm handshake.
Left-to-right, Ward’s Auto World Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter and Chrysler Group VP Bob Lee; Photo courtesy of Jeff Kowalsky Photographic LLC