The Pentastar V6 and eight-speed auto will make their way into an upgraded Ram 1500 expected to debut next month.

Ram will seek to bolster the bottom end of its 1500 pickup's powertrain lineup with the addition of Chrysler's 3.6-liter "Pentastar" V6 and an efficiency-boosting eight-speed automatic transmission.

The move, which was discovered by Automotive News in Chrysler's voluntary annual filing, will make the 1500's entry-level powertrain fully competitive with the Ford F-150's 3.7-liter V6/six-speed auto combo. It should also put the pickup in a position to take on whatever the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra twins will have to offer.

The Pentastar V6, which makes 283 to 305 horsepower in various other applications in Chrysler's lineup, will replace the 1500's outdated 215 horsepower 3.7-liter V6. The new eight-speed auto, which will take the place of the previous four-speed unit, should help boost fuel economy significantly.

The new Pentastar and eight-speed automatic will debut in an upgraded Ram 1500 that is expected to be officially unveiled in April.