DETROIT -- Chrysler Group is improving its Pentastar family of V-6s, adding direct injection, turbocharging and other technology to enable smaller displacement engines to power its vehicles.
The Pentastar Upgrade -- or PUG for short -- is part of a strategy to meet tightening corporate average fuel economy standards. Sources say the improvements will boost output and increase fuel economy on the V-6 engines that power most Chrysler vehicles.
Also possible as part of the improvements: the potential for turbocharging what are now naturally aspirated engines. Meanwhile, Fiat's MultiAir variable valve timing technology will remain, sources say.
The first improved 3.6-liter V-6 is scheduled to debut in late 2015 as part of a freshening of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, sources say. A Chrysler spokesman declined to comment on the Pentastar Upgrade project.
Another example will be the redesigned Chrysler Town & Country minivan, due in 2016. Chrysler sources say the new minivan will be powered by an improved 3.2-liter V-6 instead of its current 3.6-liter V-6.
The improved 3.2-liter V-6 will be combined with a nine-speed automatic transmission, as it is in some versions of the 2015 Jeep Cherokee. The powertrain combination, better aerodynamics and weight reductions are expected to boost the minivan's fuel economy at least 25 percent over its current EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city/25 highway, the sources said.
The naturally aspirated 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 was introduced in 2010 on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Chrysler Group has spread the 3.6-liter across most of its lineup, including its top-selling products such as the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler.
Depending on the added efficiency engineers are able to achieve, the improved 3.6-liter engine could help the Ram 1500 regain the gasoline-powered fuel efficiency crown it lost last month to a turbocharged version of the 2015 Ford F-150.