Comparing The Jeep Engine 3.6 vs 3.8

I hear a lot of discussions concerning the 3.6 and the 3.8 Jeep engines. Everyone wants to know which of these is the best engine.

The truth is that they are both good engines according to what you want and need.

Let’s take an in-depth look at the engines so you can make an informed decision on which you would prefer.

The Differences in The 3.6 and The 3.8

The 3.6

Jeep Grand Cherokee
3.6L Pentastar® V6 Engine
Photo Credit (
Horsepower         285
Torque          260
Manual or Automatic Transmission          Your choice
Towing capacity          3500 pounds

The 3.6 is a powerful engine for its size. It is powerful, reliable, and pretty darn fuel-efficient. Part of the efficiency is due to the lighter aluminum blocks used on this engine. The aluminum weighs less so the vehicle needs less fuel to power it.

The 3.6 is a lightweight engine that has four valves in each cylinder. The increased number of valves increases the airflow and reduces fuel consumption while increasing power.

The 3.8

3.8 Jeep Engine
Photo Credit (
Horsepower                  199
Torque                  232
Manual or Automatic Transmission                  Your choice
Towing Capacity                  2500 pounds

The 3.8 is simple to work on. It is also a less expensive engine to manufacture. This is partially due to the fact that the number of valves 3.8 has is one-half the number that 3.6 has.

The blocks on the 3.8 are made of cast iron instead of aluminum. Cast iron is considered by many to be better because it is tough and harder to warp or crack.

Repairing this engine will be less expensive.

The Bottom Line

When you are comparing these engines you will find that they both get excellent reviews from people who have owned them. The 3.6 is a slightly more powerful engine with greater towing capacity. These features are intriguing to most Jeep owners because most Jeep owners go places and do things where towing is a major part of their day.

If you have a boat or camper that needs to be pulled to the lake on weekends you will benefit from owning a vehicle with the 3.6. The 3.6 uses less fuel and it gets you where you are going a little faster than the 3.8 does.

If you are the type of person that trades your vehicle every two to three years then the 3.6 is a great option for you. If you are the kind of person that keeps a vehicle for 5 or more years and gets the most out of it the 3.8 might be a better choice for you. 

The 3.8 has a less complicated design and the repairs to it as parts start to wear out will be less expensive than repairs to the 3.6. You may also find that when you are purchasing the vehicle the ones that are 3.8 powered have lower sticker prices. The lower initial investment is often a reason why people choose one engine over another one.

Deciding Factors

The deciding factors that you have to take into consideration include, but are not limited to:

  • How much are you willing to pay for the engine? The 3.6 costs more initially and when it starts to break down it costs more to repair.
  • Is more torque really important to you? Torque means power. If you need more power then you also need the 3.6.
  • Do you ever leave the pavement? If you leave the pavement you want the 3.6 because the engine is tougher and ready for the strain of off-road travel.
  • Do you pull other vehicles, or toys along behind you? Towing strength and the wear and tear on the engine doing the pulling have to be considered.
  • Does future repair costs concern you? The Jeep 3.8 has a life expectancy that is more than 4000 miles less than the Jeep 3.6. proper care and regular maintenance can increase the life expectancy but will only bring it up close to that of the other engine.

People Also Ask

 Is The Jeep 3.8 Reliable?

Yes, this is a reliable engine.

How Much Horsepower Does The Jeep 3.8 Have?

They average 199 horsepower.

How Many Valves Does The 3.6 Have?

24 valves.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between these two Jeep engines boils down to what you want from your engine. If you want more power and more fuel economy then you want the 3.6 under your hood. If you want a cheaper engine that is less expensive to repair then you want the 3.8. If you drive on off-road adventures, you likely want the 3.6. If you just putt around town to and from work then you might be happy with the 3.8.

More Jeep Articles
1. How Many Miles Can a Jeep Wrangler Last?
2. Jeep Wrangler High Mileage Problems

3. Common Problems Associated With The Jeep 2.4 Engine

About Brendan Burnett

Leave a Comment