V8-powered Jeep Gladiator 392 sure seems like it’s on the way

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Jeep isn’t done spreading the V8 gospel across its range, according to a recent report. One of its top executives pointed out there’s a big demand for a V8-powered Gladiator, and we already know the engine fits in the Wrangler.

“If you scour the forums, there are tons of people that I’m sure would love to buy a V8 Gladiator,” affirmed Brandon Grimus, the Gladiator line’s senior brand manager, in an interview with enthusiast site Muscle Cars & Trucks.

While that’s not a firm commitment to stuffing the 6.4-liter between the Gladiator’s fenders, it’s a statement that shows Jeep is keeping tabs on its fan base’s wish list. And, luckily, making a V8-powered Gladiator is reasonably simple. The pickup is very closely related to the Wrangler, which was designed with an eight-cylinder engine in mind from the get-go. Released in late 2020, the Wrangler 392 develops 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. It’s the first factory-built V8-powered Wrangler (though CJs were offered with a V8), and it takes 4.5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop. We called it “a loud, boisterous, badass example of fan service” after driving it.

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Grimus explained Jeep is increasingly following the path blazed by the aftermarket.

“The crowd requesting a V8-powered Wrangler, its voice has gotten progressively louder over the last 10 years. And, just to give you an idea of how much demand there is for a V8, there were seven aftermarket companies across the country doing V8 upfits at a really, really high price with no factory warranty or engineering. Most of them have wait lists of over a year. We might as well take some of that business,” he pointed out.

Jeep is carrying off the aftermarket’s lunch money in other areas as well. Earlier in 2021, we reported the Wrangler and the Gladiator will likely be offered with an optional windshield made out of Gorilla Glass, a feature already offered by several third-party companies. Half doors made a long-awaited comeback in February 2021, and more updates could be announced at the 2021 edition of the Chicago auto show, which is opening its doors in July.

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At the other end of the spectrum, the Gladiator might receive the 4xe plug-in hybrid powertrain also inaugurated by the Wrangler. Here again, it’s a decision that makes sense: what fits in the Wrangler normally fits in the Gladiator, and offering a feature (whether it’s an engine or a windshield) in both lets Jeep benefit from economies of scale. Besides, for the first time in decades, Jeep’s off-roaders have a serious rival to worry about: the Ford Bronco.

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