By on December 19, 2018

For moving mountains of metal, Fiat Chrysler has no shortage of motivators. Larger vehicles scattered across the automaker’s various brands already have plenty of choice in powerplants, from the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 to the 5.7 and 6.4-liter V8s. There’s a supercharged 6.2-liter offered in a number of flavors should those mills prove too pokey.

As FCA slooooowly readies a new range-topper for the Jeep brand and prepares for a revamp of the long-running Grand Cherokee, a possible new engine has emerged as a V6 — or even a Hemi — replacement.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard word of an inline-six under development by FCA. Building on an earlier report, Allpar claims that a turbocharged inline-six will emerge with power figures beating that of the 5.7-liter V8, with a smoother torque curve as an added benefit.

The new mill, said to come in at just under 3.0 liters of displacement (for European tax purposes), might utilize a head assembly patented back at the start of the decade. With this setup, valve controls are integrated into the head, shrinking the engine’s vertical profile. A blown 3.0-liter could power anything from Ram pickups to rear-drive sedans and coupes to Jeep’s upper range.

In its earlier report, Allpar cited sources claiming a turbocharged version of the Pentastar V6 was rejected for unspecified reasons, leading to the development of a new inline motor.

The attention paid to displacement points to FCA fielding this engine in its Italian brands at some point. Again, none of this is confirmed by the manufacturer. For 2019, FCA paired its 3.6 and 5.7-liter engines with mild hybrid systems in Ram 1500 use, dubbing the revamped mills eTorque. However, there’s no word on any future improvements to these engines.

When can we expect to see an inline-six appear in FCA’s lineup? That’s up for debate at this point. Jeep’s next-generation Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer bow in 2020 as 2021 models; if FCA truly plans to drop a potent inline-six on us, that might be a fine time to do it.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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60 Comments on “A Straight-six for Fiat Chrysler’s Big Guys?...”


  • avatar
    wooootles

    I, for one, welcome (the return of) our I-6 overlords.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    How about a turbo I-6?

    I have a gut feeling that it would make (or could be made to make) a hell of a wonderful sound. Like mechanical judgement day.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    so, I should wait another year to buy GC. This time next year it will have 8K off

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Makes sense.

    As cylinder counts continue to drop, the advantage of an I6 sharing a layout with an I4 becomes more and more compelling than a V6 sharing with a V8. In trucks and large sedans, there’s no issue with fitting an I6, so why not go for it?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Conceivably, a company could go with a single gasoline engine family:
      CGI 1.5L turbo-I3 for subcompacts
      CGI 2.0L turbo-I4 for mid-size
      CGI 3.0L turbo-I6 for large/mid-performance.
      CGI 4.0L turbo-I8 for trucks/high-performance.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Do the old GM trick of being able to use the same machining equipment, that was GMs excuse for certain engine configurations.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        An inline 8 in a large sedan or truck would be incredible.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I had a 1949 Buick with an inline-8 coupled to a Fluid Drive Transmission and it was incredible.

          But at age 16, 17, 18, anything was incredible, when it got you around because it beat walking or riding a bike.

          Still, it’s been said that no one ever forgets the first car they ever owned.

      • 0 avatar
        aquaticko

        An I8 is extremely unlikely for packaging reasons; that’s a hell of a long engine for modern cars. Also, it may not factor with today’s metallurgy, but 8 cylinders in a line is a long crankshaft; durability and drivability are part of what killed that configuration in the ’30’s and ’40’s . They’d more likely just increase the displacement of the I6/add hybrid components/more forced induction for higher-output applications.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        BMW does exactly that, except I8.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Back in the muscle car era, Chrysler’s Australian division made some high-ouput I6 engines for use in their “Valiant Charger” so there is some precedent for this.

    However:
    – This is Allpar and they talk out their butts a lot.
    – This would mean FCA actually spent money on something.

    • 0 avatar

      Allpar is funny that way because they print most any rumor but some stuff does pan out. In this case I think a under 3.0 6 cyl might make sense.

      On the spending money thing, I think they have to eventually. It looks like the plan might be to share the engine over a huge amount of vehicle lines if so it would likely be pretty easy to justify. They just released their biggest R &D hogs the 1500 Ram and Wrangler and Gladiator.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatic

        That is the FCA way. I’m always impressed how as a smallish manufacturer they have the largest engine production runs. In 2018 (according to Wards) the #1 volume engine produced for cars sold in US was the FCAs 3.6L at 1,200,000 units, GM 5.3 small block had 786,000 units, if we throw in other small blocks (5.9, 6.0, 6.2) we only get to a total of 1,100,000. Ford has nothing this large and Toyota gets to 750,000 for the volume leader 3.5L V6.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I hope they make it transverse (like Volvo), or slanted. Heh.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Ten years ago this might be really exciting news as it might find its way into something other than a pickup, something weighing less than 2 tons, something that could fit in my garage……. but now, just another mill for trucks and SUVs probably built to the EPA test Cycle and as you said, to Euro registration displacement restrictions, etc, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      For me it’s all about the torque curve.

      American’s talk hp but drive torque. If this new engine has say peak torque from 1,500 rpm to 4,000 rpm or something like that it will be very drive-able.

      My FIL’s 2.0 turbo Terrain has its torque in a “plateau” instead of a peek and that makes it quite pleasant to drive in the Mountain West.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        Since torque and horsepower are inextricably linked by definition, I’ve never been able to understand the rubrick you bring up. If torque feels high at a given rpm, then hp is as well, because torque is what generates power. You can argue that all you want, but there is a simple mathematical relationship between torque and horsepower, by its very definition.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Torque is a force, power is the rate of application of said force.

          Power is what tells you how fast you can accomplish a given amount of work.

          Torque is what creates the pushing force you feel on your backside so yeah and engine with a lot of low end torque is satisfying to drive while an engine that doesn’t make a lot of torque but spins really fast will seem like a slug because it will not give you the off the line kick in the backside.

      • 0 avatar
        conundrum

        Since torque and horsepower are inextricably linked by definition, I’ve never been able to understand the rubrick you bring up. If what you think is “torque” feels high at a given rpm, then hp is as well, because torque is what generates power. You can argue that all you want, but there is a simple mathematical relationship between torque and horsepower. More torque equals more power at any given rpm.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          The big V8s in the 1960s put out max torque at low rpms, and it was higher than the horsepower rating. If you wanted a faster car, you needed a bigger engine with more available torque.

          Engines today put out higher horsepower than torque, at higher rpms. The cars those engines are in have much quicker acceleration.

          Yes, horsepower and torque are interrelated, but there’s no one sweet spot. In any case, you’re better off with more torque, and that’s the reason for the saying.

          • 0 avatar
            2drsedanman

            I recall someone in the racing community state that horsepower is how fast you hit the wall and torque is how hard you hit it.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      How DARE they build an engine for in-demand vehicles. For shame.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Loved the NA I6 in my departed 2004 BMW 325i. You could spin that engine up to the redline and it felt like it could keep on going and going. In comparison so many other power plants – especially 4-cyls – feel rough.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    A straight six that solves the vertical space issue? From Chrysler? Say it ain’t so.

    I guess that means that the Pacifica I buy down the road will either be a tad wider, or else will be retro complete with the engine cover between the seats.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’m trying to imagine the turbocharged I6 exhaust note coming from the types of vehicles that currently get the Hemi V8. A Dodge Challenger that sounds like a 90s Toyota Supra? Not necessarily bad, but it’s significantly different.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Call it the LToP engine series. (Leaning Tower of Power)

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    If this is true, I could definitely see it as an upgrade engine, most likely replacing the Hemi. The Pentastar already gets decent mpg in the G.C, so I imagine they’ll keep that for the base engine or hookup the e-torque system to try to gain some more mpg’s.

    It will be interesting to see this updated Grand Cherokee, especially since there haven’t been any spy photos yet. I wonder if it’ll just be another heavy refresh, like in 2014 and a stretch to add in third-row seating.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    I’ve been wondering about inline 6s and Hyundai/Kia. I know Hyundai/Kia already have the 3.3L V6 TT, but Albert Biermann.

    Take the Theta III 4cyl that’s coming out, add 2 cylinders on the end of it, and woila, new engine premium enough for Genesis and perfect for any new RWD based SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      aquaticko

      That’s been something I’ve wondered about, too. You get better smoothness than a V8 (which H/K have only limited experience in building, anyway) for roughly equivalent cost in something that could be modular with the mainstream Theta, and potentially better fuel economy. Especially with fuel costs in Korea being what they are (~7$/gallon), and diesel declining in popularity due to the fine dust issue, a lightly hybridized I6 seems like a natural direction for Genesis to go.

      Plus…potential for a V12 in a gas-powered Essentia? I dream.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        It’d be cheaper to make than the V8 or V6.

        Modular compatibility with the new Theta 4 cylinder, one cylinder head vs two, and two cams vs four.

        AND it could replace both the 3.3L V6 and 5.0L V8.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I wish my Optima Hybrid had an I-6 instead of its agricultural 4-cylinder. There is plenty of room under the hood for a straight 6.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Sure, if you don’t want a transmission. Both the Hybrid and my SX would have been better served with a V6.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          True enough. I would love a 2.5 V6, but that displeases the fuel economy spirits.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I still have one in my 1989 Camry V6, and it still gets ~20mpg in all around driving.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Lol, I average about 25 in my bigger, heavier Taurus. It only gets down to 20 or below when I’m constantly flogging it, passing on two lanes or achieving 5 mph over the speed limit before the end of the on ramp.

            Can’t wait till ToddAtlas comes along to tell us how the Camry will still be running when mine is dead. By his best estimate, its 200,000+ miles overdue for the crusher. Damn Fords.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            No doubt. But this Camry was advertised as getting 20mpg back in 1989, and today it still has the original NGK spark plugs in it.

            Then again, I was born with a Lead foot for the go-pedal. I’m sure that affects the mpgs.

            And, honestly, having driven three 5.7L equipped trucks since 2011, 20mpg is pretty darn good.

            Frankly, even during my young years I never cared about mpgs or the price of gas. I knew I was addicted to gasoline and I bought gas for as long as I had money. Then I asked for donations from my friends who wanted to ride with me.

            Best guess is I have ~150K on the odo but don’t know for sure since I bought it with the speedo cable broken, and use a Garmin now to tell speed. No odo past 115,812 when the cable broke.

  • avatar
    AnalogXer

    Transverse? All six plugs in the back please. /sarc

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Would not be surprised to see the inline six replace the V8 in future heavy-duty pickups such as 2500/3500 models.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Please please FCA do not kill the normally aspirated V8.

    I get the whole more power thing blah blah. End of the day a V8 is magic. And I don’t need a 500hp blown V8 like the Germans either.

    I’m getting tired of this argument. Nobody is gonna argue the BMW turbo 4 is better than their non-turbo I6 no matter how much they talk about more HP and torque and drive ability.

    Someone above mentioned it could be more modular. This is exactly what bmw is doing in Europe right now. Every cylinder is 0.5L displacement and they go from 3 to 6 cylinders. MINI and 1 series can get 3 cyl turbo, 4s in 3 and 5. 6s in the bigger stuff.

    Anyway back to original reason for posting. I don’t want the naturally aspirated V8 to die!

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    If anything on the Guilia platform receives such a motor, I’m in.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    GM had the I 4-5-6 Atlas family with mediocre success. A few years ago FCA started work on a complete replacement for many V8’s with a DI I 6 but evidently was canceled. this could be the same motor? I like the sound of a V8 better.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yeah and GM created those engines and then more or less let them wither on the vine. (Plus building an I-5 which nobody outside a VW dealership was clamoring for.)

      I’d love to have seen the I-6 get more development and end up as the base truck engine for Chevy and GMC. I knew people who bought Trailblazers based on the engine note.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I loved the 7MGE I6 in my Cressida, so smooth, so torquey. I love the 4.0 HO in Jeep Cherokee YJ, I basically love I6 engines. I hope they have a solution for I6 tendency to eat head gaskets though.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      The head gasket issues were primarily an issue due to the differing thermal properties of the iron block and aluminum head as well as changes in the make up of head gaskets. Even my Land cruiser’s inline 6 was bitten by it. Think they’ve figured it out

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Didn’t BMW kill the inline 6 because of less thermal efficiency making it harder to meet emissions? I don’t think they just killed it for no reason. When GM built the Atlas 6 one of the reasons was as mentioned, lower cost due to one head, etc. I widsh that motor had gotten into a Camaro or something.

  • avatar
    gregsfc

    I own an Ecoboost 2.7L V6 powered F150 RCSB; a 4190 pound 1/2 ton pickup with 375 ft-lb torque available at just 3000 RPM. It was and is by far the closest power train to perfect for what I need and like in a pickup, However, I am no fan of V6s for truck duty, because they are generally too free revving and feature virtually no engine braking; too smooth; no character, and I’m also no fan of automatic transmissions, but tranny choices or lack thereof is another issue. I like everything I’m reading about a 3.0L I6 GTI engine for a 1/2 ton except that they’re claiming Hemi-like power. That would be too highly stressed for that size and arrangement at todayxs level of technology for a work vehicle. For Ram 1500, It should be around 300 hp and 350+ ft-pound peak and should slot between a base and a larger V8 or I6.

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