At this point, the cat is out of the bag. The big mystery now is whether that cat is really a Hellcat engine, or something tamer. Last week, Jeep told us something was coming on November 17, and over the weekend an Instagram post confirmed a V8-powered Wrangler was headed to production. Now a new teaser on YouTube officially brings those previous teasers together. Tomorrow is when the new V8-powered Jeep Wrangler debuts.
Initially, we thought the big debut would be the new Grand Cherokee. Admittedly, we have some egg on our face for that one but the trade-off is a V8 Wrangler so we'll get over it. What kind of V8 will we find under the Wrangler's chunky hood? Logic points to the 6.4-liter naturally aspirated Hemi, because we've already seen it installed in the Wrangler 392 Concept that debuted in July. In that application, the engine developed 450 horsepower (331 kilowatts) and 450 pound-feet (610 Newton-meters) of twist. It's a tremendous upgrade from the current most-powerful Wrangler, which dishes up 285 hp (213 kW) from a 3.6-liter V6.
Gallery: Jeep Wrangler 392 Prototype Spy Photos
That's not to say Jeep couldn't pull a fast one and drop a new Hellcat bomb. It wouldn't be the first Jeep vehicle to offer the supercharged 6.2-liter V8, and in something as small as the Wrangler, it would indeed be a bomb. The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk with a 707-hp Hellcat V8 blasts to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, but it has the benefit of full-time all-wheel-drive. We don't see the off-road Wrangler getting such a setup, so while a Hellcat Wrangler could be possible, it seems unlikely.
For that matter, the 6.4-liter mill could also be a bit much for Wrangler buyers to manage. The Ram 1500 gets a 5.7-liter Hemi tuned to 395 hp (291 kW), and packing it in the Wrangler's engine bay could be a bit easier as well. Lest we forget, Jeep said the V8 – specifically the Hellcat engine – fits in the Wrangler "like a glove" but in the process, the engine basically becomes the crumple zone. In fact, there were serious questions on if such a Wrangler could even pass crash tests.
In any case, some kind of V8 will be under the Wrangler's hood, so crumple-zone solutions must have been found. And with an official debut literally hours away, the wait for a production V8 Jeep Wrangler is almost over.