“Not so fast,” said Jeep, to Ford. On Monday the most anticipated vehicle reveal of the year will finally happen, after multiple delays and cancelations that left off-road enthusiasts left feeling cold and unsatisfied. We’re talking about the 2021 Ford Bronco and Bronco Sport, of course. But not to let Ford hog the spotlight, FCA had to remind everybody who’s in charge of the segment, and teased a Jeep Wrangler 392 Hemi V8. Or perhaps it’s a Gladiator with a 392 Hemi. Or, perhaps both. The streak of a teaser image is all we have to go off of, and it’s impossible to tell the difference between a Gladiator and a Wrangler from the illustration. Either way, it could be a 470 horsepower in an iconic SUV. Because America.
The image features a prominent hood scoop, similar to that found on the 2020 Jeep Gladiator Mojave, as well as a ‘392’ badge on the sides of it. So far, the only way to satisfy one’s Hemi kink in a Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator is through the aftermarket. Up to this point, engineers have claimed to anybody that would ask that the 6.4L Apache V8 engine (the 392) would not properly fit in the engine bay of these vehicles due to crash safety concerns. That the front end would require more engineering work than it would arguably be worth, and FCA isn’t exactly one to blow its budget when it comes to stuff like this. Nevertheless, the rhetoric could have all been a ruse. At least, that’s one theory.
Another theory is that this Jeep Wrangler 392 Hemi (or Gladiator) teased is another one-off machine that would have been used for the canceled Jeep Easter Safari that would have taken place in Moab, Utah earlier this spring. And Jeep could just be using this image to stir the pot, and keep Ford on its toes. A 2.7L EcoBoost V6 is confirmed for the 2021 Ford Bronco, which packs a lot more power than the atmospheric 3.6L Pentastar V6 in the Wrangler and Gladiator. But would Ford be able to match a Hemi V8? Whether it’s for jokes or not, the Blue Team may have just flinched a bit.
All that said, this could be more evidence that FCA is indeed working on a Hemi-powered Jeep. Some of you may recall the rumors of a 329 Hemi-powered Gladiator in development, codenamed ‘Hercules.’ Hercules was never a gladiator in Greek mythos, but his heroic strength and capabilities certainly makes the project name appropriate. FCA has yet to trademark the Hercules name, however. A Gladiator, with its longer wheelbase, would also handle the power of the 6.4L V8 more smoothly, and makes it the more ideal candidate for the upgrade. That said, Jeep has wedged the Apache V8 in the engine bay of the Wrangler before, such as the Sandstorm concept, pictured below. We hope to know more soon. Watch this space.