The popular Pentastar V6 will soon improve yet another Chrysler product. Starting in 2012, the Jeep Wrangler and four-door Wrangler Unlimited will adopt the powerful engine, trading in their increasingly outdated 3.8-liter V6 for the technologically-advanced Pentastar.

That's big news for the Wrangler, which was saddled with EPA fuel economy ratings of just 15 city miles per gallon and 19 mpg on the highway. The new engine increases the traditional Wrangler's gas mileage to a more respectable 17 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway, while the Wrangler Unlimited jumps to 16 mpg city and either 20 or 21 mpg highway, depending on transmission. Transmission choices include a standard six-speed manual, or an optional five-speed automatic in place of last year's four-speed.

While buyers are certain to welcome the 2012 Wrangler's increased fuel economy, the new engine's biggest advantage is its muscle. Although Jeep hasn't announced power ratings for the Pentastar, it's certainly an improvement over last year's 202-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, which was previously used in Chrysler and Dodge minivans. The Pentastar engine produces 290 horsepower in Jeep's midsize Grand Cherokee, where it debuted for the 2011 model year.

The new engine is sure to provide yet another boost to Wrangler sales, which already benefitted from several new features and an interior update for 2011. Last month, the convertible SUV sold just over 14,000 units for a year-over-year increase of nearly 43 percent, while sales are up more than 20 percent through the first seven months of 2011.

Of course, the Pentastar V6's proliferation is benefitting more than just the Wrangler. Chrysler is adding the powerful, efficient engine across much of its model line, from the midsize 200 sedan to crossover SUVs like the Dodge Journey. Even the automaker's Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, which gained new engines with their 2008 redesign, upgraded to the more efficient Pentastar last year.

Expected to arrive in dealerships soon, the 2012 Wrangler's base pricing hasn't been announced but will likely stay close to last year's $22,000 figure.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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