These 4 Modern 4x4s Need A V8 Transplant Like The Jeep Wrangler 392
Jeep fans and 4x4 enthusiasts were titillated earlier this summer when the SUV builder brought out the Wrangler 392 concept, a vehicle that stuffed a 6.4-liter V8 into the off-road icon in order to give it 450hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. That's a massive upgrade over the next-in-line, 285 horsepower V6, and it showed that there's plenty of headroom left in the Wrangler's platform to accommodate a beefier drivetrain.
It got us thinking: which other 4x4 SUVs and pickups could stand to see their output enhanced by way of a V8 transplant? Surprisingly, outside of the full-size segment there aren't any eight-cylinder off-roaders sitting in showrooms right now.
Here are the trucks would we tap for a little open heart surgery.
Ford Bronco 5.0 V8
We'd be the first to admit that the upcoming 2021 Ford Bronco isn't lacking for horsepower, what with a standard 270 horsepower EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and the option of a 310hp, 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 (that's also good for 400 lb-ft of torque).
Still, there's nothing quite like the immediacy of a large displacement V8 when it comes to torque delivery, and since a diesel model is likely out of the question, our thoughts turn to a Coyote under the new Bronco's hood. With the right tune, 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque should be easy enough to package under a torque curve that would be a perfect fit with either a manual gearbox or Ford's 10-speed automatic. This would allow for plenty of towing power and that wonderful eight-cylinder snarl.
We're also willing to bet that there's room under the Bronco's hood for a V8, given the need to house a pair of turbos for the 2.7. More controversially, the 5.0's fuel mileage would likely be a much closer than expected match for the EcoBoost V6 in real-world driving.
Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro 5.7 V8
The Toyota Tacoma has dominated the mid-size truck market for over a decade, and it's done so without making any major changes. Although styling may have evolved, and a few extra features have been added to the mix, mechanically the Tacoma platform hasn't seen any major shake-ups during its reign on top.
Given that a redesigned Tacoma could still be a few years away, what better way to keep buyers interested than by building a three-quarter sized Raptor fighter? Stuffing the iForce 5.7-liter V8 between the Toyota's front fenders would make just under 400 horsepower available, along with 401 lb-ft of torque. Each of these figures is a sizable boost over the stout-but-slow V6 that has served as the Tacoma's top dog since time immemorial.
It's the perfect formula for producing a dune-running pickup that could keep pace with the Ford F-150 Raptor, given its lighter size and smaller footprint. Even better would be a return to the Tacoma's Pre-Runner days by installing the big V8 in a two-wheel drive truck that benefits from an aggressive long-travel suspension.
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 5.3 V8
The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, with its DSSV shocks and rugged overall design, has been a legitimate challenger to the Tacoma's off-road hegemony in recent years. Think of how much more potent that ZR2 package could be, however, if the truck's 3.6-liter V6 was complemented by a 5.3-liter V8 lifted from the full-size Silverado?
The Colorado already delivers an impressive number of engines on the order sheet—a four-cylinder, a V6, and a turbodiesel—making it the only mid-size pickup to provide a trio of drivetrain options. What's one more in the mix, right?
A V8 version of the ZR2 could provide as much as another 120 lb-ft of torque over the V6's 275 lb-ft, which would be a welcome addition whether you're rock crawling or dune bashing. With the relatively compact size of the Gen V pushrod engine design, fitting the 5.3 to the smaller Chevrolet shouldn't be an issue either.
Jeep Gladiator 392
The same summer as Jeep announced a concept version of the Wrangler SUV, is it unreasonable to ask for the same engine transplant for the Jeep Gladiator mid-size pickup? (Jeep Gladiator Hurcules, anyone?) After all, this 4x4 is substantially larger than even the four-door Wrangler, which means it would benefit most from having extra grunt to help it tackle the trail.
Given that the Gladiator is currently only available with a 285 hp, 3.6-liter V6 (it doesn't yet benefit from the turbo four or turbodiesel offered in the Wrangler), a 392 edition (referring to its V8 displacement in cubic inches) would certainly add diversity to the line-up.
The 450hp and healthy serving of torque that would come with it would also provide Jeep Gladiator owners with additional off-road grunt as well as better overall towing capacity. It's a win-win situation for Jeep that, if every other truck builder mentioned in this piece ignores out advice, would give it the only V8 in its class—and certainly the mightiest.
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