Trucks & SUVs

The Ram 1500’s Penstar Engine Was the Best of 2019

The Pentastar engine has been powering the Ram 1500 since 2012. Reviewers and Ram owners alike are impressed with the engine’s brawny towing and hauling capabilities. One renowned automotive publisher also thinks the Ram engine is excellent since it has won a spot on the 2019 Ward’s Auto 10 best engines list.

The specs for the award-winning Ram engine

Introducing the 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel pickup truck
2019 Ram 1500 Rebel | Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Ram 1500 engine that grabbed the attention of the Ward’s Auto judges is the 3.6-liter Pentastar eTorque V6. This is the Ram’s standard engine that produces 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. This Pentastar version shares the aluminum block, pistons, and cylinder heads with FCA’s other variants of the engine. Using aluminum makes the engine considerably lighter, which, in turn, helps to reduce the weight of the truck.

This engine has a compression ratio of 11:3:1, according to the product expert at Fury Ram Truck Center in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. The rule of thumb is the smaller the compression ratio, the better the fuel economy. For a pickup truck, this compression ratio is quite good because it works even with regular 87-octane fuel.

It also employs a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system that diverts a small part of the exhaust gas back into the intake manifold. When the exhaust is cooled in a special heat exchanger before it goes into the intake manifold, it reduces emissions and cuts down on knocking.

But the internal combustion engine specs are only one aspect of this engine. It also comes with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system called eTorque. FCA added this system to the Pentastar engine for the 2019 Ram 1500, and it makes a quantum difference in engine power and fuel economy.

Why Ward’s Auto loved this engine

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The eTorque system takes the place of the conventional alternator. It uses a belt-drive motor/generator that operates with a 48-volt 12-cell lithium-ion battery pack. Besides keeping the Ram 1500‘s traditional 12-volt electrical systems charged, eTorque rapidly restarts the engine when the automatic stop/start system is used. 

Restarting a 5,000-pound pickup from a dead stop without burning up a lot of fuel was a big plus in the eyes of the Ward’s Auto experts. They found that using eTorque resulted in 21-22 MPG when driving the test model with all-wheel drive.

Another advantage was that the Pentastar engine restarted in half the time that it took for traditional starter-driven systems to turn over. The reduced time in idling also helps to improve the truck’s fuel economy. For cold starts when the truck has been parked for a while, the 12-volt lead acid battery is more efficient for firing up the starter motor. 

Like the systems on other mild-hybrid vehicles, eTorque recovers energy during deceleration and braking in particular. The energy replenishes the 430-watt battery pack and is used immediately or stored as needed. While this kind of regenerative braking is common in modern mild-hybrid passenger cars, it is rare in pickup trucks. But now, FCA has made this application mainstream in the Ram 1500, which was not lost among the Ward’s Auto judges.

Impressive performance numbers

The eTorque system also generates up to 90 lb-ft of additional torque to the Pentastar engine during certain driving situations. Under 2,000 rpm, eTorque provides some assistance to cover gaps in the truck’s range of most efficient operating speeds. The judges noticed this when the gas pedal was pushed at just over 1,000 rpm and the engine immediately leaped up to 5,000 rpm. They were also satisfied that the Pentastar with eTorque offered plenty of offroading power for the Ram to take on rugged inclines.

The Ram engine’s advanced technology puts it in good company on the Ward’s Auto 10 best engines list along with the Ford F-150‘s 3.0-liter TurboDiesel V6 and the Chevrolet Silverado’s 6.2-liter V8 that has cylinder deactivation technology. Ward’s Auto judges valued the potent combination of increased power and better fuel economy that the 2019 Ram 1500‘s Pentastar engine with the eTorque system provides. Ram has proved that a mild-hybrid engine can work exceedingly well in a full-size pickup truck.