"It fits like a glove," Tim Kuniskis, Jeep's head of brand, said in regards to the Dodge Hellcat engine in the Jeep Wrangler and Gladiator, the SUV-maker's new pickup truck. But that doesn't mean Jeep-enthusiasts and speed demons are going to have their wish granted.
The Jeep Wrangler has had new engines become available in recent years. This year's vehicle -- the Motor Trend SUV of the Year, by the way -- comes with the standard 285-horsepower V6, but an option is available for the 270-horsepower Turbo Engine. The latter gives a notable boost to the vehicle's putrid fuel economy, one of the few complaints you'll hear from Wrangler owners.
Despite its gas-guzzling traits, though, many would have surely cheered for the supercharged V8 Hellcat engine. Obviously this would further worsen the vehicle's fuel economy, but for some, the tradeoff would be worth it.
Emissions -- despite its parent company Fiat Chrysler (FCAU - Get Report) struggling with emissions in the EU to the point it's buying emission credits off Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) -- aren't the primary concern here. Rather, it comes down to safety.
As Kuniskis said, it fits like a glove in the new Wrangler and Gladiator models. But it fits a little too snug. "You have nothing that can be used to absorb energy in a crash," he added. "It's not a problem to put it in...except it would never pass any crash tests, and that's a problem."
Short of someone adding this engine to their Wrangler or Gladiator after purchase, we'll never get to see what this type of Hellcat is capable of. That's unfortunate, as we have a glimpse at its potential, now that the same V8 engine -- packed with 707 horsepower churning out 645-lb ft. of torque -- is in the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
The car can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. To put this in perspective, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has about as much horsepower as Ford's (F - Get Report) most powerful street-legal Mustang and could beat a Mercedes-Benz (DDAIF) C63 AMG in a 0-60 sprint by three-tenths of a second.
That's unusual performance for a brand like Jeep, but given how many brands Fiat has under its umbrella, some cross-product isn't surprising. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk starts are more than $86,000 and can run all the way up to six figures with options. So don't think Jeep wouldn't pull off a Hellcat Wrangler or Gladiator if it could. For the price, it'd certainly be worth it.
Perhaps down the road the automaker can make some adjustments and bring us a horsepower-hungry Wrangler or Gladiator. It just won't be now.