Since the launch of the Jeep Gladiator mid-size pickup, fans of the marque have looked to the team at Dodge with Hellcat V8 engines dancing in their eyes. So far the brand has offered the Jeep Grand Cherokee with the hellacious motor in Trackhawk guise, but FCA executives from Tim Kuniskis to Scott Tallon have so far claimed that there is not enough space around the engine and crumple zones, which means that it otherwise won’t be crashworthy enough for official testing.
That hasn’t kept the hoards from believing that the motor would eventually find its way into the long rumored Jeep Gladiator Hercules. While Jeep has been pretty straight forward about how unlikely that V8 power is, new spy photos courtesy of Motor1 (photos at link) and others may have captured the Hercules prototype out testing with quite a bit of camouflage on the hood. It’s too early for a facelift, so what gives?
The hood on the prototype appears to be quite a bit taller than the standard Jeep Gladiator, though that could be the result of some false panel trickery. This particular Gladiator also sports some heavy coverings on the front fascia, along with some slick black wheels we haven’t seen before.
Say FCA is telling the truth, and a Hellcat-powered Jeep Gladiator is off the table; there could still be something more powerful than the Pentastar V6 in store for the truck. A rumored turbocharged six-cylinder engine could find its way between the pickup’s fenders, potentially making upwards of Hemi-rivaling 500 horsepower. That could be quite an enticing offer for those looking for a performance oriented mid-size truck, especially considering neither Ford or Chevrolet currently offer a genuinely powerful version of their Ranger and Colorado offerings. With the off-road capabilities of a Jeep Wrangler mostly intact after the truck conversion, it seems that FCA might just build the Ranger Raptor that Ford has refused to bring to the American market for this current generation.
For those that can’t wait, there’s ‘Maximus,’ a very limited-run Jeep Gladiator Hellcat truck from Hennessey (pictured below).