The Jeep Gladiator is getting a lot of love. People have been clamoring to buy it. Kelley Blue Book named it as one of their favorite cars for 2020. You can even mount a rooftop tent to it. Sadly, unlike many of its fellow FCA brethren, there’s no high-performance version. Yet. The Jeep Gladiator Hercules aims to change that.
Jeep Gladiator Hercules Labors
Last month, Motor1 obtained spy photos showing a camouflaged Jeep Gladiator undergoing testing. The site pointed out the hood’s heavier camo and speculated it could be disguising modifications made for a powerful engine. Jalopnik recently published an article stating an alleged Jeep dealer revealed a Gladiator diesel option, but Motor1 states the photographed tester wasn’t a diesel. The spy photographers allegedly saw an Unleaded Fuel Only sticker under the gas cap. Diversions on test cars, though, aren’t unheard of.
However, the Gladiator tester did appear to be off-road ready. Although fitted with different wheels, the truck was wearing the Rubicon model’s tires.
What’s Under the Hood?
Jeep does make a Grand Cherokee with the supercharged V8, the more road-focused Trackhawk. Also, the Ram Rebel TRX is officially confirmed for production. However, FCA executives have stated there isn’t enough room to fit the Hellcat engine in the Gladiator without compromising crash safety. Jeep engineers have made a Hellcat-powered Wrangler before, but it never made it past the ‘Moab concept’ stage. Texas tuner Hennessey does offer the Maximus 1000, a Hellcat-fitted Gladiator tuned up to 1000 hp. But it costs $200,000 and they’re only making 24.
Instead, Muscle Cars and Trucks muses (along with Motor1), the Hercules could come with a turbocharged six-cylinder. The site states such an engine could make around 500 hp. Interestingly, FCA does offer an engine like that in another car: the 505-hp Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
A Ferrari-derived engine inside a Jeep—now that would be something.
Gladiator Hercules’ Potential Competition
If the Gladiator Hercules does reach production, it would be a rather unique offering in the mid-size pickup market. Ram has several off-road pickups to choose from, but they’re all full-size. Ford does have a Raptor version of its mid-size Ranger, but it’s sold in North America. The closest competitor would be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, but its biggest engine offering is a 3.6-liter V6 making 308 hp. Currently, the Jeep Gladiator’s most powerful engine is a 3.6-liter V6 making 285 hp.
At the moment, Jeep has not confirmed any details about a potential high-performance Gladiator trim. Nevertheless, a midsize pickup with that level of performance and off-road chops would definitely be a hero.