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Pentastar back on Ward’s Best Engines

by David Zatz on

One of the most reputable Top Ten lists is Ward’s long-running Ten Best Engines inventory; and one engine that’s had more than the normal share of appearances on that list is Chrysler’s own 3.6 liter Pentastar V6.

eTorque / Hurricane engine

The Pentastar was started under Daimler, continued under Cerberus, and launched under Fiat; it was designed to be a fully modern engine, and was originally to have a number of displacements and technologies, including direct injection and forced induction. Yet, it was to have more shared parts between car and truck models than the old 3.3/3.8 and 3.5/4.0 families. Today, there are 3.2 and 3.6 liter versions (the 3.2 is only used in the Cherokee), and with the 3.6 there are pure-gasoline, light-hybrid (“eTorque”), and PHEV (Pacifica) versions.

This time, the 3.6 eTorque won a place on the list, the sole FCA product to make it. The Ram 1500’s Pentastar eTorque was also on the list last year. It’s rated at 305 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with a “TorqueFlite” 845RE eight-speed automatic.

The Pentastar won from 2011-2013, then in PHEV mode in 2017 and 2018, and in eTorque mode in 2019 and 2020—seven turns. That maches the Hemi V8, which won from 2003 through 2007, in 2009, and, in Hellcat form, in 2015. The only other Chrysler-engineered motor to make the 26-year-old list was the 4.7 liter Next Generation V8 in the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  (FCA US motors to make it include the 2014 Fiat 500e electric motor, which was said to have been created in Auburn Hills; the VM diesel in the Ram 1500, 2014-16; and the 2004 Cummins diesel in the Ram HD.)

FCA noted that the mild hybrid system replaces the alternator with a belt-driven motor-generator which is mainly used for seamless stop-start, and also helps with energy recovery from brake regeneration, and increases both towing capacity and payload. It can send 90 pound-feet of torque to the crankshaft during stop-start; torque reaches the wheels within half a second, while most starter-motor-actuated stop-start systems take roughly one full second. Ward’s managing editor Tom Murphy commented, “There are lots of drivers who dislike stop-start systems because the engine may turn back on with a shudder, or they might think the engine won’t restart at all. But the Ram 1500’s 48-volt eTorque system is so smooth, quiet and consistently reliable that truck owners will appreciate the technology – and the money they can save at the pump.”

Fuel economy is rated at 20 city, 25 highway with rear wheel drive; the city rating, most important for the typical driver, went up by 18% from the prior generation. The same powertrain is available in the Jeep Wrangler Sahara four-door.

The full list will be released by Ward’s Auto tomorrow. The Jeep Renegade’s 1.3 liter was on the list of finalists, along with the revised Ram 1500 diesel. FCA had three entries, Ford and GM had four, Hyundai had six, and Nissan and BMW each had two; single-entry manufacturers were Honda, Mazda, Mercedes, Subaru, and Toyota.


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