By on July 11, 2020

Jeep/Facebook

Having watched The Hunt for Red October last night, your author knows all too well what can happen when two superpowers engage in a game of brinkmanship. He’d also like to see Montana.

Having enjoyed years of nearly complete dominance in the true off-road SUV market in America, Jeep now finds itself in a battle against a vehicle no consumer has yet laid eyes on: the Ford Bronco, due for a public unveiling on Monday. On Saturday morning, Jeep decided to crank that newfound rivalry up to “11”, teasing a future product with a monster engine.

Via a wordless Facebook post, Jeep let a number do all the talking.

392.

The badge adorning the Wrangler’s (or Gladiator’s) newly power-bulged hood marks the all-American displacement of Fiat Chrysler’s 6.4-liter Hemi V8, a naturally aspirated big boy slotted between the automaker’s 5.7-liter Hemi and supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat engines. A fun toy in the Dodge Charger and Challenger, the 6.4L also serves as the base engine in Ram’s HD pickups.

In a Wrangler or Wrangler-based vehicle, the 6.4L, which generates 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque in Dodge’s SRT products, would make for a swift machine indeed. When placed under the hood of a Challenger, the 392 can rocket the portly coupe to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.

The Bronco hasn’t even has a chance to bare its secrets and already Jeep is fighting it with what one can only assume is upcoming product. This didn’t go unnoticed at the Blue Oval.

Nervous? Perhaps, though Jeep’s Wrangler boasts heritage and name recognition that even the Bronco can’t match. And unless Ford decides to Raptor-ize its upcoming body-on-frame two-and four-door SUV, the Jeep will handily beat it in terms of available power.

The question, of course, is — does the addition of a larger available engine really sweeten the overall pot all that much? A vehicle aimed at rock crawlers and other off-road adventurers doesn’t really seem like a great fit for a honking muscle car motor. All that extra weight and power would do nothing for someone inching along in low range, brow beaded with sweat as jagged boulders threaten their undercarriage. If it’s low-end pull you’re looking for, the Wrangler — and now the Gladiator — offers a 3.0-liter diesel.

It’s entirely superfluous. Yet Jeep saw fit to add the 6.2L Hellcat engine to its Grand Cherokee line, transforming the SUV into the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Bragging rights and ostentatiousness still counts for something in the truck/SUV realm, especially in the sector that waves the stars and strips proudly above its head.

And it’s not like owners weren’t already outfitting their Wranglers with V8 power via the aftermarket. Jeep isn’t talking about the Facebook post, of course, presumably preferring to its powder dry until the time is right to touch off the pan.

[Image: Jeep/Facebook]

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64 Comments on “‘Nice Little Bronco You Got There…’ – Jeep Fights Newfound Competition With Muscle...”


  • avatar
    blppt

    “Having watched The Hunt for Red October last night, your author knows all too well what can happen when two superpowers engage in a game of brinkmanship. He’d also like to see Montana.”

    OT a bit, but that is a great movie. Scott Glenn steals the whole thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      “Ruskies don’t take a dump without a plan son.”

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Really appreciate how in the later stages of his career Sean Connery could basically play every role as himself, with his own accent.

        Have always wondered how the person casting Highlander could justify Christopher Lambert with his ‘Eurotrash’ accent as the Highlander and Connery with his thick brogue as ‘The Spaniard’?

      • 0 avatar
        blppt

        I think that was Fred Thompson’s character, wasn’t it?

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Yep

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Definitely the best Tom Clancy adaptation.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            Yes. It’s painful to admit Alec Baldwin did Jack Ryan better than both Harrison Ford and Ben Afflec.

          • 0 avatar
            blppt

            “Yes. It’s painful to admit Alec Baldwin did Jack Ryan better than both Harrison Ford and Ben Afflec.”

            Its not that he’s a better actor, its just that his mannerisms and personality fit the book character better than those guys.

            Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan was an older action hero, which was not who Jack Ryan was.

            I actually think even Affleck’s Jack Ryan was closer to the books’ version than Harrison’s, and pretty much nobody thinks he’s a better actor than Ford.

            Wait…uh, isn’t this a car site? ;)

  • avatar
    multicam

    This will probably just be an Easter Jeep Safari concept that never sees production. Even if it does, $20 says it won’t be available in two-door form, just like the diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      multicam

      Replying to myself here…

      Upon further reflection, I don’t think Jeep can afford to tease something like this, get everyone excited, then not release it. That would just set them up for taking SO much crap from Ford.

      Still, having said that, I’m not excited and won’t worry about replacing my 2019 Rubicon. A 392-equipped Wrangler would not be available with manual transmission and probably wouldn’t be available with two doors, both prerequisites to a Wrangler purchase for me. Also, I don’t feel like getting divorced to get one of these which would definitely have to happen for me to afford it.

      • 0 avatar
        FerrariLaFerrariFace

        FCA has a history of stuffing bigger and bigger engines into existing product in order to maintain interest. Challenger, Grand Cherokee, Charger… they’re even building a Durango Hellcat for pete’s sake. Stuffing a monster under the hood of a Wrangler is right in line with their current modus operandi.
        But also, you’re probably right about it not coming in a 2-door.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        You can currently get a 392 in a Challenger with a manual. I’d say unlikely, but not impossible.

        • 0 avatar
          multicam

          To FerrariLaFerrariFace’s point, this is true, but so far the Wrangler has not followed this trend. Jeep engineers have stated that the various V8’s wouldn’t fit into the engine compartment while allowing for crumple zones – in short, the aftermarket can do it all they want but Jeep wouldn’t be able to pass safety regulations. Not to say it’s impossible; with enough money thrown at the problem and pressure incoming from Ford they may actually do it.

          Art, the transmission to which you refer is the Tremec TR6060 and isn’t geared suitably for the Jeep. I doubt they’d use that transmission. I don’t think FCA has a manual transmission in their inventory right now that would work for this application.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I think TREMEC will build it with whatever ratios the OEMs want in it. Of course then you are back to square one with respect to the EPA so your point likely stands.

            You would probably want to trade one of the overdrive’s for a lower first gear in that application I suppose.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    YAWN! So, last month, my sister is contemplating the purchase of a Dodge Magnum. She knows the service history of the car(her daughter is selling it)so my sis calls her trusted mechanic to find out what he thinks. He comes back with, “don’t do it – no Dodges and no Jeeps. You’ll be sorry”. Around the same, my buddy in the UK who so looked forward to his pristine Jeep Grand Wagoneer Limited arriving two years ago announces it’s for sale – more time spent on a ramp truck than on the M1 motorway. And yet, my local Dodge Ram and Jeep dealer operates these days like he’s licensed to print money, and the new vehicle evidence passes me daily on the interstate and busy highways as shiny Rams, Gladiators, and Wranglers. And with the phantom new Bronco, who knows what those will turn out like in dependability terms. ‘Ford Tough’ or ‘Built Like a Jeep’. I’ll wait and see.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I don’t think FCA products have sterling reliability or anything but your frame of reference is really just a pre-owned Magnum and a UK owned AMC product?

      There’s also the idea that someone buying a 480hp SUV may not put reliability as #1 on their shopping list.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Dodge Magnum? Which one? The one from the 1970s based on the Cordoba or the station wagon based on the LX Charger?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        It’s gotta be the 2000s wagon – I think all those malaise-era Magnums rusted into oblivion a LONG time ago.

        Then again, I did see a late-’70s/early ’80s “downsized” New Yorker yesterday that looked pretty straight.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      The newest Magnum is 12 years old and I don’t think any of them had easy lives. This is a buy it and build it sort of used car…nobody is looking at these for reliable transportation on the used market.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    It’s amazing it’s taken this long.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    More like “Built Like a Fiat” and “Fix It Again Tony”

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    It’s hilarious that Ford is saying Jeep is nervous. Projection much?

    Unfortunately aside from engines the new Ford Wrangler isn’t going to come close to matching the proper Wrangler in terms of anything.

    And that’s before you factor in the completely absent aftermarket for the Ford Wrangler and the typical lack of quality that Ford puts into every vehicle made.

    Fords already lost and the Bronco hasn’t even released yet. Typical

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    When is GM going to “me too” all of this?

  • avatar
    Rocket

    Awesome … zero to death wobble in five flat.

    Seriously though, it’s about time. But why the 6.4 and not the 5.7?

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      That’s what I was thinking. The 392 and the Death Wobble – what could go wrong?

      Dennis Collins has already put a Hemi in at least one JLU. Maybe even a Hellcat by now (I haven’t followed him in awhile).

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I’m not in the market for a Bronco or a Jeep, but the Jeep looks with a 392?

    I wouldn’t hate it.

    Bronco? I hate it for looks alone.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    Serious question: Why are we assuming this is the Wrangler and not the Gladiator?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “he typical lack of quality that Ford puts into every vehicle made.”

    you can say that for FIAT as well.

    Agree FCA has been known for years for lack of quality and now Ford under the leadership of Jim Hackett is playing catch up to the lack of quality and cost cutting game that both FCA and GM have been doing for years. I would trust Toyota for a reliable off road vehicle especially since they seem to last and last with fewer issues.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      We buy all of the big three for 1/2T service vehicles. No discernible difference in maintenance costs between any of them usually selling or junking them at 300k to 400k. GM’s eat trannies, endless electrical and brake trouble with sucky MDS, Ford can’t build a reliable engine other than the old 5.0 to save their souls with door and window hardware that would embarrass Yugo, FCA electrical and suspension leaves a lot to be desired with terrible MDS on the Hemi and water leaks.

      The old Dodge Dakotas and Toyota Tacomas were by far and away the best of anything with everything easily and cheaply repaired. Actually kind of sad the Dakota went away. Right sized and low operating costs at a decent price. Got to be a ball joint replacement expert though with the Dodge, exhaust manifolds with the Toyota. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @Jeff S: Yeah, I’d probably go with Toyota for a new offroad vehicle if I needed one. Instead of new, I’d go for a vintage FJ40.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “The typical lack of quality that Ford puts into every vehicle made.”

      you can say that for FIAT as well.

      Agree FCA has been known for years for lack of quality and now Ford under the leadership of Jim Hackett is playing catch up to the lack of quality and cost cutting game that both FCA and GM have been doing for years. I would trust Toyota for a reliable off road vehicle especially since they seem to last and last with fewer issues.”

      Unfortunately facts refute that statement. Dodge number 1 and Ram number 2 in JD Power IQS study.

  • avatar
    ajla

    YMMV, but a gasoline V8 Gladiator increases my chances of ownership by 5x.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      YMMV, indeed…I’ve driven an overpowered off-road vehicle (see below), and it’s literally terrifying. Hard pass. I’ve driven a Pentastar-powered Wrangler, and it felt plenty powerful.

      I’m no expert on off-roading, but I’d have to think that “performance” in that context means more ground clearance and suspension travel, and more flexible gearing, versus more horsepower.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’ll have to see how it works out. The Pentastar doesn’t do it for me though and I don’t like diesels.

        A 392 Gladiator should be less bonkers than an AMG G-class. Especially if FCA goes more with an HD Ram setup versus and SRT ones.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Want to know what it’s like to drive a radically overpowered off-road vehicle? Go try out an AMG-powered G-Wagen. I have. And it literally scared the crap out of me – tall, tippy, with imprecise steering, and WAY too much power. It’s like a 500-horsepower clown car on stilts. No f**king way.

    I’ve driven a Wrangler with the Pentastar six – it’s plenty powerful. Besides, I thought the dick-measuring contest with the off-road folks involved stuff that would actually make their vehicles work better off-road – stuff like larger-diameter tires, raised suspensions, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      One environment where more power can do little harm (and is always welcome) is sand. I can see a vehicle like this absolutely dominating the dunes.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Again, I’m no expert on off-roading, but from what I hear a Ford F150 Raptor dominates the dunes too, and it’s not ridiculously overpowered.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          The Raptor isn’t 700hp, but it goes a bit beyond “adequate”. 450hp on a 5800lbs for the crew cab version works out to about 12.8lbs/hp

          On a 4800lb Gladiator that would be around 375hp. So the 345ci V8 would probably be about perfect and the full-whack 485hp 392 V8 may be “overkill”. However, I still think FCA may reel back the output of the 6.4L for Wrangler/Gladiator duty.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Putting a powerful V8 in a Wrangler would be monumentally stupid. The 3.6V6 is perfectly adequate. Overpowering this vehicle with its horrendously bad handling dynamics is a great way to get idiots killed, and possibly innocent bystanders. Let’s hope FCA has more sense.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Adequate? Yeah how exciting. I should pay (lease) all that money, for adequate??

      Anyway, why does it have to be one way or the other. Massive overkill and at terrific expense (CTS-V) or nothing (cheesy, Low Output V6 [or turbo-4])?

      (Normal) V6 power has stagnated (for decades it seems) while midsize trucks/SUVs (and mid/fullsize sedans) have gotten massively heavier.

      If not smaller/base V8s (4.6/4.7/4.8) formerly from Ford/Ram/GM/Toyota/Nissan (that have gone away), then why not a (simple, “adequate”) turbo V6 for now?

      • 0 avatar
        Imagefont

        Does more power, a lot more power in this case, necessarily make the vehicle so more “exciting”? Is this a 0-60 issue? And when you talk about paying so much money, you’ll be paying a lot more if you get one with a 500HP V8, right? I had a Gladiator as a rental recently and I loved it, stupid vehicle though it is. I felt like the V6 got the job done just fine, power isn’t everything.
        How fast do you want to be going when you die?

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “power isn’t everything.”
          It isn’t *everything* but it is pretty high up on my shopping list.

          “How fast do you want to be going when you die?”
          I’d want something that can run with the 6.2L Silverado and F-150 Limited. Right now, no midsize truck offers that.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          It is always about the 0-60 (even if you don’t realize it).

          It doesn’t matter if it’s a semi, school bus, dump truck, dually, motorhome, 1200cc ’67 VW Bug, etc, etc.

          The ET figure/stat (combined with HP/Tq vs weight) is the best indicator on how it’s going to do at everyday tasks, how far your foot has to be in it, amount of frustration, or not.

          Although it may do just fine on the test drive around the block.

          Except who said anything about 500 HP? Nor does it have to be a V8 for that matter (although preferred by many and myself). Or set the damn world on fire..

          Again, why does it have to be one or the other??

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @mcs–Agree an FJ40 would be my choice.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    “Hey little Bronco dont you know you’re gonna shut ’em down!”

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