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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.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept

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).

Ford Bronco in blue

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.

Ford Bronco in orange

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.

Toyota Tacoma on Nittos front

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.

Toyota Tacoma on Nittos rear

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?

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 on Nittos side profile  

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?

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 V6 engine

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.

Jeep Gladiator on Nittos

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.

Jeep Gladiator on Nittos from rear

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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