Everyone knows an engine can make or break a car. Here are the absolute best and worst engines to ever come out of The Chrysler Corporation.
The Chrysler Corporation has a long and storied history. Once one of the great successes of the American car industry, Chrysler has certainly had its moments throughout time. Some of its products have made serious impacts and shaped the future of the car market. More recently, it took the muscle car horsepower wars to levels that we never would have thought possible.
Now though, Chrysler is a shadow of its former self. Most of its operations are controlled by Fiat, and the number of cars in its lineup is slowly dwindling in favor of crossovers and trucks that satisfy market demands but do little to stoke the flame of enthusiasm.
Throughout its history, for all the great and legendary cars and engines the Chrysler corporation has produced, it also pumped out its fair share of duds. This list will cover 10 Chrysler engines that, for one reason or another, failed to deliver. But, to celebrate its successes, we’ll also look at five Chrysler Corp. cars and engines that were absolute monsters.
2.7l V6 – Chrysler Sebring/Dodge Stratus
The 2.7l V6 is one of Chrysler’s absolute worst powerplants. In fact, a quick Google search for the worst engines of all time will bring up multiple lists that include this tragic lump. Its problems were plentiful, but by far its most significant was sludge buildup due to water pump gaskets that leaked oil into the coolant supply. They were given the reputation of “sludge monsters,” and the engines had basically no redeeming qualities to overcome it.
2.2l Inline-4 – K Cars
While Lee Iaccoca’s revolutionary K platform did ultimately save Chrysler from bankruptcy by offering a range of cheap, economical cars that Americans (at least for a certain period) actually wanted to buy, the cars were not exactly revered for their engines. The 2.2l inline-4 was particularly poor, suffering from oil burning, starter problems, throttle issues and most notably a serious lack of power compared to import rivals.
225 Cubic-Inch Slant-6 – Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volaré
The 225 cubic-inch slant-6 engine was found in plenty of models including the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré. Despite being the largest of three displacements, it was not a high-performer. 1970s emissions regulations, a two-barrel carburetor and a reverse-flow cylinder head (where the exhaust and intake ports are on the same side of the engine) choked the engine’s power output to a paltry 100 horsepower, which was completely inadequate for powering a sedan the size and weight of the Aspen.
3.7l “PowerTech” V6 – Dodge Nitro/Jeep Liberty
The 3.7l V6 is one of many engines to carry the “PowerTech” name. It was a replacement for the doomed 2.7l V6 and a precursor to the much improved Pentastar 3.6l V6, which Chrysler still uses now.
The PowerTech had a number of issues, least of which was a measly power output of around 200 horsepower. It was eventually bored out to 4.0 liters, but ultimately discontinued in favor of the 3.6l Pentastar.
Early 3.0l V6 EcoDiesel – Ram 1500/Jeep Grand Cherokee
Back in 2014, Dodge paved the way for diesels in 1500-class pickups by offering a 3.0l VM Motori diesel V6 in the Ram 1500. However, the engines started to suffer from some catastrophic reliability issues particularly with fuel rails and cam gear failures, as well as its own Dieselgate (allegations that the engines were cheating on emissions requirements). This led to a recall on all 3.0 “EcoDiesel” engines that cost the company $800 million.
2.8l Inline-4 Diesel – Jeep Liberty CRD
Another tale of diesel woe comes in the form of the early Jeep Liberty. Intended as a replacement for the smaller Cherokee, the Liberty was a very popular SUV. It wasn’t as big as a Grand Cherokee and it was cheap. It was also sold mostly with the 3.7l gasoline V6 due to the nasty reputation the CRD diesel models had built.
The 2.8l inline-4 had issues with its EGR system effectively destroying the engine due to carbon buildup, as well as numerous fuel system issues and head gasket leaks, all potentially happening before 100k miles.
2.0l Inline-4 “World” Engine – Dodge Caliber
The Caliber was an early adopter of a crossover design that could actually have helped it if it came out a few years later than it did. Its poor build quality and its dull interior made it a sore spot in the Dodge lineup though. It had plenty of issues with its powertrain too, particularly with its CVT transmission having a tendency to burn belts and catch fire.
The engine, while not necessarily unreliable, was dull, underpowered, uninspired and poor on fuel, which did little to help the tragic little Caliber.
4.7l “PowerTech” V8 – Jeep Commander
The list of problems with the Jeep Commander is about as long as its exterior proportions are massive. It had terrible interior packaging, poor build quality and most importantly, a wholly inadequate engine. The Commander used the 4.7l PowerTech V8, a big brother to the 3.7l V6, which still only produced 235 horsepower. This was simply not enough grunt to get the Commander out of its own way, which also led to terrible fuel economy.
2.4l “Tigershark” Inline-4 – Dodge Dart
The 2.4l Tigershark 4-cylinder was found it plenty of models, but it earned its bad reputation most prominently in the “sporty” Dodge Dart. Sporty used here in quotations because one of the engine’s major issues was its poor torque range making it feel sluggish, a problem exacerbated by the 9-speed automatic gearbox, which never seemed to be in the right gear when you needed it.
It was also noisy and had poor fuel economy that hurt the Dart in comparison to its rivals, not to mention FCA’s less than stellar reputation for build quality and reliability.
5.7l V8 Hybrid – Dodge Durango/Chrysler Aspen
Like its main competitor, the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, these two behemoths had electric motors paired with 5.7l V8s to produce around 345 horsepower. However, the looming economic crisis would quickly put an end to the production of these hybrids, with less than 1,000 sold.
Beast: 2.4l turbo Inline-4 – Dodge Neon SRT-4/Chrysler PT Cruiser GT
The Neon SRT-4 and PT Cruiser GT never seemed to get the respect that their performance should have earned them. This could be because they were brutally quick versions of cars that had comically bad reputations, making it very difficult to take them seriously. Still, their 2.4l turbo 4-cylinder engines produced a whopping 230 horsepower, which would send the front wheels skittering frantically under boost. They were also very cheap, which made them popular with tuners on a tight budget.
Beast: 8.4l V10 – Viper SRT-10/Ram SRT-10
Chrysler’s 8.4l V10 was originally meant for use in pickups, and in a roundabout way it did fulfill that purpose in the Ram SRT-10. But before it was shoehorned under the hood of the original Viper (and every subsequent Viper), it was tuned up to produce around 500 horsepower. While that may not be a huge number, its size and output made the Viper a wild and frantic machine: difficult to handle and not for the faint of heart.
Beast: 2.2l Turbo II Inline-4 – Dodge Omni GLH/GLHS
The “GLH” in this car’s name stands for “Goes Like Hell,” a moniker which was affectionately given to it by Carroll Shelby, who worked with Chrysler to produce this proto-hot hatch.
The base Omni had a pathetic power output, but with a big turbo strapped to a 2.2l 4-cylinder, the GLH produced 145 horsepower. Shelby produced some even faster models, which he called GLHS (“Goes Like Hell Some more”) that put out 175 hp.
Beast: Cummins 5.9l Diesel Inline-6 – Dodge Ram 2500/3500 Heavy Duty
There’s not much more that needs to be said about these legendary engines that hasn’t already been said. They are incredibly stout, with a reputation as one of the most reliable engines ever made. They were originally designed for commercial use, which made them a natural fit for heavy-duty work trucks and haulers like the Ram 2500 and 3500 HD.
Cummins engines are known to last hundreds of thousands of miles, often outlasting every other component on the truck including the frames and body panels.
Beast: 6.2l Supercharged HEMI V8 – Dodge Challenger Hellcat/Demon
It’s hard to make a list of “beastly” Chrysler engines without including the Hellcat and Demon’s 6.2l supercharged V8. You probably already know the power outputs, but they’re so impressive that they’re worth repeating. 707 hp in the base Hellcat, 797 hp in the Redeye edition, and up to 840 rampaging horsepower in the top-spec Demon.
For it to produce that kind of power, the engine is fitted with a supercharger that displaces 2.8 liters of air and requires over 200 horsepower just to operate. It can only produce the full 840 horses with special 100-octane race fuel. All this for less than $100,000 when they were new in 2018. The Demon truly was the muscle car endgame.