Hemi V8s & Electric Motors & Pickups: Is This How Jeep Will Fight the Ford Bronco?
After a long wait, Ford finally unveiled the 2021 Bronco SUV this week and from first impressions it looks like they may have a hit on their hands. Not only has the Bronco dominated the conversation among enthusiasts, interest in its release has gone beyond just the automotive community and into the mainstream.
Needless to say, a lot of people have been wondering how Jeep is going to respond to the reemergence of the Bronco into the 4x4 market. Well, it didn't take long for Jeep to fire back. In fact, Jeep actually released a new concept Wrangler just before the Bronco made its debut—and it comes packing a lot of muscle.
As we pointed out in our comparison article, one of the areas where the new Bronco looks to best the Jeep is in the performance department. Both the Bronco's standard 2.3 liter EcoBoost four cylinder and its optional 2.7 liter V6 EcoBoost bring a sizable advantage in power and torque over the Wrangler's current offerings.
That advantage though, is nothing some old fashioned V8 muscle can't overcome. And that's how you get the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept that Jeep showed us just before the big Bronco launch event.
As its name says, the Wrangler 392 packs the 6.4 liter V8 Hemi V8 from cars like the Dodge Challenger and Grand Cherokee SRT into the Wrangler. In this application Jeep says the Hemi makes 450 horsepower, which is a massive jump from any of the engines currently offered in the Wrangler.
While aftermarket companies have been stuffing various V8s into Wranglers for years, a factory Hemi offering would be a big deal. And with the Bronco getting so much attention there's good reason to believe this is more than just an experimental concept.
FCA has shown no hesitation to "Hemi" all the things, and a Wrangler with some serious V8 horsepower under the hood could be just the thing to fight back. While a Wrangler isn't a vehicle many choose for its raw performance, having that kind of power under the hood could make a big difference—particularly when you start fitting a Jeep with big tires and other off-road gear that can sap power out of the base 3.6 liter V6 engine.
All in all, the chances of a Hemi-powered Wrangler becoming a reality seem strong. We wouldn't be surprised to see a production version confirmed in the near future - perhaps even before the Bronco arrives in dealerships. But an inevitable V8-powered Wrangler isn't the only bit of ammunition that Jeep has to fight the Bronco. If you'll recall earlier this year at CES Jeep showed off a plug-in Wrangler concept dubbed 4XE.
The plug-in hybrid Wrangler is still on track to debut in the later part of this year, with Jeep recently putting out a short teaser film showing the Wrangler 4XE hitting up the trail in total silence.
Technical details on the plug-in Wrangler are still sparse, but rumors suggest a an electric-assisted version of the 2.0 turbo four-cylinder that will be capable of around 30 miles of all-electric driving.
And What About the Pickups?
It's hard to mention Jeep's plans for the Wrangler without mentioning its Gladiator pickup truck twin. If Jeep is committed to dropping a Hemi V8 into the Wrangler lineup, there's no reason for them not to add one to the Gladiator as well.
In fact, in Jeep's initial teaser shot of the Rubicon 392 Concept it wasn't clear whether they were showing a Wrangler or Gladiator.
As with the Wrangler, it now seems a matter of "when" not "if" a Hemi V8 version of the Gladiator joins the lineup. And having some serious horsepower available should make the Jeep pickup an even bigger hit.
Not to be left out, there's been plenty of rumors that the currently announced Broncos are just the beginning of Ford's effort. Seeing as its already based on the Ranger platform, a pickup version of the Bronco would not be surprising to see in the future.
We've also heard some rumblings (no pun intended) that a V8 version of the Bronco may also be way in the works. Whether this would be the popular 5.0 Coyote V8 or maybe even the supercharged engine from the Shelby GT500 Mustang remains to be see—but if there's one area where the new Bronco might upset purists, it would be lack of the traditional V8 power.
Whether you are a loyal Ford fan, Jeep purist or someone trying to decide between both, there are going to be some exciting times in the battle for 4x4 supremacy. Things are just getting started.