FCA’s Jeep brand expands its global reach by qualifying the ’17 Grand Cherokee SUV for a tax break in Japan, just the second gasoline-engine vehicle from America to earn the fuel-efficiency incentive following the ’16 Cherokee Trailhawk, the company says.

Japanese buyers of the Grand Cherokee powered by FCA’s Pentastar 3.6L V-6 are eligible for a ¥58,000-¥66,000 ($513-$584) Eco-Car tax incentive thanks to the vehicle’s fuel efficiency and low emissions.

The qualifying engine is an upgraded version of the original Pentastar V-6 that was a 3-time Wards 10 Best Engines winner. The revised engine features 2-step variable-valve lift which allows operation in low-lift mode during most driving, but increases lift to provide more air flow to the cylinders when more power is demanded.

“This singular feature firmly establishes the redesigned Pentastar among the world’s elite, high-volume V-6 engines,” says Bob Lee, head of powertrain coordination-FCA Global.

Combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission, the Grand Cherokee achieves 9.6 km/L (22.6 mpg) fuel economy and a 4-star emissions rating in Japan.

The Grand Cherokee is produced at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.

With 9,388 sales in 2016 – up 32% from the prior year – Jeep is Japan’s top-selling U.S. vehicle brand. The brand is targeted for 10,000 annual deliveries in the Asian nation by 2019. Globally, Jeep sold 1.42 million vehicles last year, up 9% year-over-year.

bgritzinger@wardsauto.com @bobgritzinger