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10 Car Brands That Build Awesome Engines

Jul 04, 2023

There is no end to the talents of these carmakers, who not only design iconic cars, but also build some incredible engines.

The most reliable car you can buy today is the Toyota Prius. According to CarEdge, the Toyota Prius costs $4,008 on average to repair and maintain over the vehicle's first 10 years of operation; that's around $2,700 better off than your average popular hatchback. It's fair to say the Prius is super reliable, with an average 11.22% chance of requiring major repairs over the same period. Yes, the most reliable engine you can buy today is a 1.8-liter Toyota 2ZR-FXE inline-four.

Onto more relatable matters, the most reliable V8 engine in the world is the Toyota 1UZ-FE. Toyota spent $1 billion developing the 1UZ engine between 1983 and 1989, the project dubbed "F1" saw commission from Toyota head-honcho Eiji Toyoda, who sought to take on the likes of Cadillac, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. The 1UZ saw over 900 experimental engines manufactured, amassing a whopping 1.67 million miles to ensure the rugged dependability of the V8 engine. Toyota utilized their over-engineered V8 when launching the Lexus marque we all know and love today. We could hammer on about Toyota's good, bad, and ugly engines all day. However, let's look at the greatest engines you can buy today from the automotive world's biggest hitters.

BMW has an outstanding reputation for building incredibly reliable straight-six performance engines, and in fact, the S54 inline-six engine is considered their most significant, capable of luring the wandering gearhead today. The S54 lived between 2000 and 2006 aboard the iconic E46 M3, producing 333 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque at 4,900 rpm. Thanks to its plucky power plant, the E46 M3 is an immensely reliable car and still receives solid reliability ratings from consumers today.

Perhaps the most whimsical feature of the S54 straight-six engine is the block's rapid throttle response, thanks to six individual throttle bodies manipulating the air-fuel mixture between cylinders. The high-revving 3.2-liter engine achieves 0-60 mph in sub-five seconds and is responsible for cementing BMWs reputation for reliability and performance during the early 2000s.

RELATED: 10 Most Reliable BMW Engines Ever Built

Toyota's 4.8-liter V10 engine remains in every gearhead's top three best-sounding engines, thanks to design elements from Yamaha and that incredible 72-degree V-bank cylinder configuration. Toyota's engineering marvel sits among its many significant engines and even won the respect of Jeremy Clarkson, who claimed the LFA was the "best car in the world" on multiple occasions. However, the 1LR stands out for many reasons, such as its unique dimensions. The Japanese conglomerate crafted a V10 roughly the size of a V8 with the weight of a V6 thanks to their use of aluminum, titanium, and magnesium when manufacturing the 1LR-GUE V10 performance engine.

The 1LR-GUE is also immensely rare, arriving exclusively on the 500 Lexus LFA supercars manufactured between 2010-2012. The Toyota V10 is one of the fastest revving engines in the world, reaching its lengthy 9,000 rpm redline in a mere 0.6 seconds! Albeit producing a relatively low 553 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, the rapid acceleration of the LFA allows it to achieve 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds.

Regarding car reliability, you would be a fool to look past Honda. The Tokyo-based automaker produces a whopping 5 million engines annually! In fact, two-thirds of those engines find their way into Honda's competitors due to the trusty nature of a Honda-built block.

However, in terms of iconic engines, nothing encapsulates a Honda engine quite like the K20 four-cylinder. The K20 is one of the most reliable engines in the world and highly compact, leading to tuners "K-Swapping" the legendary engine into anything from a classic Ferrari to an old-school Austin Mini. The high-revving nature assisted by the brand's legendary i-VTEC system allows the 220-hp engine to reach lofty heights of 8,600 rpm!

Place the K20 and its larger K24 cousin at the top of your wish list if you need a reliable engine capable of 500+ hp!

Mercedes isn't the least reliable car brand, yet it's hard to ignore their spotty relationship with car reliability during the early 2000s. However, 2006 saw them unleash their growling M156 V8, changing the narrative completely! Their in-house maniacs, AMG, solely developed the M156 engine. The German V8 arrived with a NA 6.2-liter displacement, coining the "63" moniker we all know and love today. Its most iconic implementation is in the W204 C63, developing a whopping 510 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque at a time when BMW were still wrestling with its troublesome N62 V8.

The 6.2-liter V8 changed how we look at the Mercedes brand as a whole; all of a sudden, Europe had a genuine muscle car manufactured using lightweight magnesium alongside a set of durable forged pistons. The M156 bucked Mercedes-Benz's mature trend and led to a cascade of AMG-powered icons that continue today.

RELATED: 10 Awesome Muscle Cars That Are Virtually Indestructible

The most powerful naturally aspirated V12 produced by the Ferrari brand is the F140. The engine began life in 2002 aboard the now $3.1 million Ferrari Enzo. Today's most powerful edition of the Ferrari-powered V12 is the F140-HC, found torturing the rear axle of the 2022 Ferrari Dayton SP3. The SP3 produces a brain-melting 830 hp from the naturally aspirated 12-cylinder, and until the Aston Martin Valkyrie came along, it represented the most powerful NA V12 in the world.

Ferrari's efforts with a V12 engine have stood the test of time as the block is over 20 years old as of 2022; despite its aging nature, the fire-breathing V12 is the engine of choice for the Ferrari Purosangue SUV… sorry, FUV.

Although the Subaru Impreza continues life as a super reliable car today, the nameplate owes its many achievements to the EJ four-cylinder engine. Subaru unleashed the EJ-Series in 1989 aboard the rather dull Subaru Legacy; the grumbling Boxer engine featured in the world-beating Subaru Impreza WRC car that dominated throughout the '90s. Yes, the EJ-Series is capable of accommodating both performance cars and grocery-getters.

The cult formed around the EJ worships the Subaru WRX STI in all formats. With a maximum power output from the factory of around 320 hp, the classic Japanese car lives on today, having only recently ditched its 30+ year EJ flat-four engine. Subaru finally retired the old boxer in 2021, having served 32 years as a tuner favorite and a staple of the Subaru brand.

Lamborghini is well known as one of the most charismatic, albeit least reliable car brands between their inception and its eventual takeover by Volkswagen in 1998. However, the infamous Lamborghini V12 that debuted with the original 1963 Lamborghini 350GT, remained nestled away in their flagship cars until the 2009 Lamborghini Murcielago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce, producing a hefty 661 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque. The engine alone is an automotive icon, providing over 50 years of service in various formats, including Formula 1 between 1989-1993!

Unlike most supercar engines, the Lamborghini V12 powered multiple automotive greats such as the Miura, Countach, Diablo, and the Murcielago. It's even the engine of choice for the exclusive 1/20 Lamborghini Reventón. Although the brand moved onto pastures new, the iconic scream of the Lamborghini V12 remains a mainstay in Italian automotive culture.

Godzilla's beating heart, the Nissan RB26DETT inline-six, is perhaps the most fabled engine hailing from Japan. The twin-turbocharged Nissan engine powered the four-wheel-drive Nissan Skyline GTR between 1989-1992, producing 316 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque. Nissan equipped the engine with a brace of T25 turbochargers, generating 14 psi; twin-turbocharged setups were a rarity in the early '90s.

Furthermore, Nissan crafted the RB26 out of cast iron, knowing full well the tuning community would seek further gains from their high-performance straight-six. The Skyline GTR is a highly reliable car, supported by the RB26DETT engine's ability to withstand high-pressure situations. The long-living R35 GTR of today wouldn't be here if it weren't for the ludicrous efforts of the Nissan RB26DETT engine.

Ford's Coyote V8 has represented the front line of the company's Modular V8 family since 2010 and now serves as a basis for the most powerful Ford engine in the world, the Ford Predator V8.

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The Predator engine arrived within the 2019 Shelby GT500, featuring forged internals and a TVS R2650 Supercharger, capable of taking the GT500 from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds! What differentiates the legendary Predator from the previous "Voodoo" iteration found on the GT350 is using a cross-plane crank capable of handling more power and emitting a '60s-style muscle car rumble. Ford's Predator V8 generates an unhinged 760 hp and 625 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm, making it the most powerful engine developed by the Ford Motor Company.

Beginning in 1951 under the guise of "Firepower V8," Chrysler's hemispherical headers eventually saw the block known as the Hemi V8. In the '60s, during the engine's second generation, the Chrysler Hemi became one of the most sought-after muscle car engines, producing a tire-shredding 425 hp aboard muscle car icons such as the Plymouth GTX. Muscle car lovers today are still willing to travel far and wide for a vehicle containing the elusive 426 V8 Hemi.

However, 2023 will be the last of the third-gen Hemi, which has served dutifully since 2003. The block now represents the world's most powerful production muscle car, sitting aboard the Dodge Challenger Demon 170, producing 1,300 hp! It seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Perhaps what makes the Hemi, so infamous today, is the excellent reliability rating associated with the Challenger and Charger cars it serves. The 2022 Dodge Challenger sports an astounding 88/100 quality and reliability rating with J.D. Power, with most of its engine options being various iterations of the third-generation Hemi V8.

Sources:, Honda UK,, J.D. Power

An automotive writer based in the UK, suffering with an unhealthy obsession for cars and Formula One.​​​Providing commanding content that attracts attention and entertains all at the same time is key.At the weekends, you can find him Driving past Williams Racing making high pitch V10 noises with his mouth.... daring to dream...