Is FCA Bringing Back the Straight-Six?
Rumors suggest new powertrains on the horizonby Mark McNabb, on
News out of Auburn Hills regarding powertrain changes is becoming regular these days. First is was a rumor suggesting the venerable and widely used 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 will soon end production. Now sources are telling Allpar that FCA is toying with the idea of inline six-cylinder engines.
Chrysler has a long history of using inline six-cylinder engines. Major players include the AMC straight-six found in everything from sedans and budget muscle cars to Jeeps and pickups between 1964 and 2006. The iconic 4.0-liter I-6 found in Jeep products is perhaps the pentacle of Chrysler I-6 design and one of the most legendary Chrysler engines of all time. Sadly that engine met its demise with the introduction of the Jeep Wrangler JK in 2007.
Allpar speculates the new inline six-cylinder would be based on FCA’s current Global Medium Engine four-cylinder. Currently displacing 2.0 liters and found in the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the turbo-four makes 280 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque thanks to an intercooler, 16 valves operated by dual overhead cams, and direct fuel injection. Adding two extra cylinder to the GME could result in horsepower levels over 400 and torque levels beyond 450 pound-feet. That is, if power levels grow at the same percentage as the cylinder count.
So, could a 3.0-liter inline-six be on the horizon for FCA vehicles, including Ram, Dodge, and Jeep? Only time will tell, but the path to that end seems oddly clear. Consider the resurgence of rear-wheel drive vehicles, like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, along with new versions of current rear-wheel drive models like the Jeep Wrangler, Ram 1500, and even Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.
Ford has already proved that turbocharged engines with smaller displacements can generate quite the kick, while providing impressively reliability despite outrageous payload and towing demands. Should FCA follow in the EcoBoost’s footsteps, we could see an impressively powerful yet butter-smooth straight-six under the hood of the next generation of FCA vehicles.
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Why It Matters
Of course, we’ve got to take this news with a large grain of salt. This is merely a rumor that could have no basis in truth. Then again, Allpar has a solid track record of talking to the right inside sources at FCA. It will certainly be interesting to see what transpires. But as Allpar points out, any official news regarding this engine will be five to seven years out, especially if FCA just started the project.
Either way, the rumor begs the question: what will FCA power with a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder? The rumors about FCA ending production of the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 seem conveniently timed here. It’s hard to imagine FCA giving up on such a legendary engine that is the backbone of the Dodge and Ram brand. Dodge especially would be hurt by the Hemi’s demise. After all, Dodge’s entire theme is based on old-school muscle and a bad-boy attitude, the heart of which is the 5.7-liter Hemi. Three of its five products can be had with the Hemi, in fact.
The same can be said for the Ram 1500 pickup, though to a slightly lesser extent. Ram might try stealing Ford’s EcoBoost market share by offering something comparable yet with different standout features.
As for Jeep, the straight-six could be introduced with the Wrangler JL’s mid-cycle refresh, likely scheduled for sometime around 2023. Imagine a Wrangler with 450 pound-feet of torque from the factory!
Again, this speculation is based on a rumor, so don’t take it as gospel. Still, let us know what you think in the comments below!
Read our full review on the upcoming 2018 Jeep Wrangler here.