Jeep boss says Hellcat engine fits in Wrangler and Gladiator, but there’s a problem

Jeep has admitted the Wrangler and new Gladiator pickup can stuff parent automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V-8 under the hood, but there’s a rather large roadblock.

Head of the Jeep brand in North America, Tim Kuniskis, said the Hellcat engine “fits like a glove,” but it fits a little too snugly, according to a Monday report by the Australian website Drive. The engine leaves no space in the Wrangler and Gladiator for sufficient crush zones. In the event of a crash, the Hellcat engine would leave no room to absorb energy, and Kuniskis said a Hellcat-powered Wrangler or Gladiator would never pass federal crash tests. Effectively, Kuniskis nixed the idea of a V-8-powered high-performance Gladiator and Wrangler.

Rendering of Jeep Gladiator Hercules Photo: Jeep Gladiator Forum

Rendering of Jeep Gladiator Hercules Photo: Jeep Gladiator Forum

Yet, that doesn’t mean isn’t a high-performance pickup truck isn’t coming. It just likely won’t have a Hellcat engine under the hood. This past January, a rumor surfaced on a fan forum claiming Jeep had a Gladiator Hercules high-performance model in the works. The rumor didn’t promise a V-8, to be fair, but Kuniskis didn’t totally dismiss the idea of a Gladiator Hercules when Motor Authority spoke to the Jeep head at the 2019 North American International Auto Show. The Jeep boss shared Gladiator has a long future with the brand and there’s plenty of potential to take the pickup in new directions.

It sounds like Jeep intends to reveal a higher-performance Gladiator pickup, but how it will accomplish that goal remains unclear. Regular Gladiators will feature the tried-and-true 3.6-liter V-6 with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and next year a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 rated at 220 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque will join the fray. Could a turbocharged V-6 be in the works? A turbo inline-6 has been rumored, but that would likely allow less space for crash absorption than the V-8. We’ll have to wait to see what Jeep decides to do to rival the Colorado ZR2 but with more power.

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