With the 2021 Bronco undergoing final preparations for its debut, it would seem fitting that the folks at Jeep are keen on raining on the revived off-roader’s parade. The brand made its move this morning, posting a very compelling teaser image on its Facebook page.
The lone image shows a Jeep Wrangler equipped with a sizable hood scoop, and a 392 badge prominently placed to make itself noticeable to the world. This follows up recent moves at Dodge, where the performance brand showcased the outrageously powerful Durango Hellcat alongside the rest of its 2021 model lineup. When combined with the latest round of teasers for the Ram TRX, it does show that Chrysler is very serious about flexing its engineering muscle in regards to V8 applications. But is a V8 indeed coming to the JL platform?
The current generation Jeep Wrangler is perhaps one of the best off-road focused models in the market today, with the Jeep not only boasting impressive trail capability, but also an equally potent compatibility with customization. One popular modification involves the process of swapping the engine out for a bigger Hemi V8 that not only makes more power, but also delivers a better soundtrack when pushed hard. However, the process is very costly, and as a result, it has remained out of reach for more budget minded off-road enthusiasts.
If this rendering is to be believed, the wait could soon be over, with the design here being far more cohesive and production ready than the typical teaser image. The 392 V8 that is hinted here is arguably the volume seller in FCA’s V8 lineup, with the engine being most notably found in the Grand Cherokee SRT, Charger and Challenger Scat Pack (among others.) Slotted underneath the Hellcat engine, the 6.4 liter Hemi is a solid middle ground, and offers a balanced blend of performance and value.
For reference, the Grand Cherokee SRT, a somewhat similarly sized vehicle, has this same engine and it produces 475 HP, 470 lb-ft of torque. Yes, that’s 400+ for both figures.
Now, in a Wrangler, this large V8 would be a lot different than the current lineup of engines with the 2020 model offering a 2.0L turbocharged, 4-cylinder, two versions of a 3.6L V6 (one a mild hybrid another with engine start stop) and a 3.0L V6 diesel.
While answering the demands from customers for a big, burly V8, the odds are this will come at a significant price upgrade. For example, the Grand Cherokee starts at $34,000 and the SRT model starts at $69,000. Would Jeep do the same with the Wrangler? Sure, why not.
This is not the first time we have heard rumblings of a V8 equipped Wrangler, with Jeep reps in the past revealing that the Hemi could fit inside the JL’s engine bay. But while Jeep has made a few V8 powered concepts over the years, a key hurdle for production was crash safety regulations, with the Hemi powered Wrangler being unable to pass. It would seem that Jeep has found a way to resolve this issue, and it will be interesting to see what other surprises the 392 equipped model could bring to consumers.
Why not a Hellcat engine? We hear cooling is a big issue with putting that engine under the hood.
The timing of this announcement to coincide with the Bronco’s debut next Monday is certainly no accident, and is an attempt to draw more people to the Wrangler. Jeep for its part has remained silent on whether this is a model that is indeed bound for production, or another concept vehicle. But it does beg the question, Could the dream of a factory built 6.4 liter equipped Wrangler finally bear some very compelling fruit?