The 2020 Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems are being revealed, in random, non-alphabetical order, one a day until Dec. 20. This is the eighth winner profile.
FCA’s Ram brand has been on a roll lately, in no small part because of creative powertrain engineering.
A great example of that is the 3.6L V-6 with eTorque that powers the fullsize Ram 1500 pickup truck to a Wards 10 Best Engines & Propulsion Systems win for the second year in a row.
This is the seventh Wards 10 Best trophy bestowed on the workhorse Pentastar since it launched in 2011. Two of those honors were for the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, in 2017 and 2018.
But now comes along the same DOHC all-aluminum Pentastar V-6 but paired with a 48V eTorque mild-hybrid system that boosts launch power, aids fuel efficiency and offers one of the best and smoothest stop-start setups around.
eTorque replaces the traditional alternator with a belt-driven motor generator working with a lithium-ion battery pack. From an engineering perspective, it's a solid strategy and a smart application of 48V.
Our judges recorded fuel economy topping 20 mpg (8.7 L/100 km) during testing. That’s darn good for a pickup weighing about two-and-a-half tons.
The engine is not wanting for power. It produces 305 hp at 6,400 rpm and 269 lb.-ft. (370 Nm) of torque at 4,800 rpm. The system overall adds about 90 lb.-ft. (122 Nm) to the V-6, helping it punch above its weight class.
“You want torque, it’s got torque,” says judge James Amend. Adds colleague Bob Gritzinger: “Torque aplenty – responsive and smooth in delivery.”
eTorque makes the Ram’s fuel-saving start-stop system one of the best (and fastest) out there. It restarts the engine in 400 milliseconds -- half the time it takes for conventional stop-starts.
“Lots of drivers 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,” says Tom Murphy, WardsAuto managing editor.
“But the Ram 1500’s 48V eTorque system is so capable and consistently reliable that truck owners will appreciate the technology – and the money they can save at the pump.”
Amend praises the powertrain’s overall refinement. eTorque also recaptures energy during deceleration and braking, delivering a charge to the battery pack.
Pentastar design features range from a completely integrated exhaust manifold to environmentally friendlier oil-filter cartridges made from paper.
With little or no modification, Pentastar engines can accommodate longitudinal or transverse mounting; front-, rear-, and all-wheel-drive architectures; as well as automatic and manual transmissions.
This flexibility helped FCA replace seven 6-cyl. engine families with a single V-6 design. The upgraded Pentastar features cooled exhaust-gas recirculation for greater efficiency, particularly under high load situations.
Even when doing big-truck duty, the Ram’s V-6 is quiet and powerful. But eTorque gives it something special.