DETROIT -- Chrysler's new 3.6-liter V-6 is the first of a family of engines that is expected to be produced over the next decade from the automaker's new Pentastar engine architecture.
The $730 million development program was started under DaimlerChrysler AG to boost fuel efficiency and horsepower of its V-6 engines, while reducing weight, emissions and manufacturing complexity.
“The engine architecture is designed to be competitive from 3.0 liters to 4.0 liters,” said Bob Lee, vice president of engine engineering for Chrysler. “For today's vehicles, a 3.6-liter is the right size now.”
But as future vehicles are reduced in size or weight, or offer transmissions with additional speeds for better fuel economy, “we can build a 3.0-liter engine, a 3.1, a 3.3” from this architecture, he said. “We can make the engine a different size” to fit the needs of a particular car or truck.
Going into 13 vehicles
Lee would not say what other Pentastar V-6 engines are planned. He was interviewed yesterday during a press event at the automaker's Trenton, Mich., engine assembly plant. Chrysler said plants in Trenton and Saltillo, Mexico, will be able to assemble about one million V-6 engines annually.
The 3.6-liter V-6 will be used in 13 Chrysler Group vehicles by the end of 2012, Lee said. The engine will replace seven V-6 engines that range in displacement from 2.7- to 4.0-liters. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the first vehicle to offer the 3.6-liter V-6.
The new engine offers a boost in horsepower and fuel economy over previous V-6 offerings. For example, the 2011 Grand Cherokee has 290 hp and 260 pounds-feet of torque. By comparison, the 3.7-liter offered in the 2010 Grand Cherokee produced 210 hp and 235 pounds-feet of torque. Zero to 60 mph acceleration is improved 2.3 seconds, to 8.6 seconds.
The 2011 Grand Cherokee is rated at 16 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, versus 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway for the 2010 model.
The 3.6-liter V-6 engine also will be available in the Chrysler 300 and 200 sedans and Town & Country minivan, plus the Dodge Challenger, Charger and Avenger sedans, Durango SUV and Journey crossover. Horsepower and torque will vary by model.
The version for the 2011 Dodge Challenger will produce 305 hp and 268 pounds-feet of torque. That engine will be available early next year. It replaces the 250-hp 3.5-liter V-6, which produced 250 pounds-feet of torque. Lee said the Challenger V-6 will have the highest horsepower of any vehicle with the 3.6-liter version.
A key element of the Pentastar engine family is parts sharing, which Lee said can reduce the cost of individual parts from three to five percent when other V-6 engines are offered.
“What you don't see is that if you do that over and over, then you have savings in other things. You have savings in remanufactured parts, you have savings in stocking and service parts. So the compound factor is much larger” than three to five percent, Lee said.
The architecture also reduced the number of major engine components from 189 parts to 32, and the overall weight of the engine.
The 3.6-liter V-6 that is in the 2011 Grand Cherokee is 94 pounds lighter than the 3.7-liter engine offered in the 2010 model, the automaker said. It is 42 pounds lighter than the 3.5-liter it replaces in the Chrysler 300 sedan.
Engine development to create the Pentastar V-6 architecture took about a year longer than expected.
‘More than four years'
“Normally our cycle is a little over three years for a new engine,” Lee said. “But because of our many ownerships and business relationships with Daimler and Cerberus, we started working on this more than four years ago.”
The engine program was started when DaimlerChrysler owned the automaker. Cerberus Capital Management purchased the company from DaimlerChrysler in 2007. Fiat S.p.A. took control of the company in 2009.
Lee said that “while there are some things that are similar in concept” between Chrysler's new V-6 and Mercedes-Benz's engines, “I am not aware of a single component that is identical.”