The 2021 Wrangler Rubicon 392 will combine the go-anywhere capability of a Jeep’s iconic off-roader with the grunt of a V8 for the first time in decades. As cool as that is, we can’t help but think Jeep is missing out on a huge opportunity to pair that 470-horsepower, 6.4-liter Hemi V8 with the Wrangler’s pickup cousin, the Jeep Gladiator, in the form of a Mojave 392.
Autoblog took part in a media Q&A session with Jeep ahead of the Rubicon 392’s announcement in which the company’s product higher-ups said that there are currently no official plans to build a 392 variant of the Gladiator pickup. But whether or not Jeep has plans, it certainly has precedent, and from our perspective, a market.
Rewind to 2008, better known as one of the worst possible years to introduce a gas-guzzling, V8-powered pickup truck. Enter the 2009 Hummer H3T Alpha, the first variant of Hummer’s midsize truck/SUV hybrid to be offered with a 5.3-liter V8. The 300-horsepower small-block was an upgrade to the sturdy but relatively uninspiring 3.7-liter inline-5 that the H3 lineup had inherited from its midsize pickup platform mates.
As our Jeremy Korzeniewski noted in the Rubicon 392’s introductory piece, an open-top Jeep has not been offered with an optional V8 for as long as the “Wrangler” nameplate has existed. The last Jeep 4×4 to do so was still a CJ, or civilian Jeep, and the 304 cubic-inch engine came from American Motors Corporation. Incidentally, this generation of the Wrangler is also the first to be offered in a pickup variant. Cue the beard-stroking.
Now, frankly, it’s not even remotely fair to compare the H3T’s powertrain offerings to the decade-newer Gladiator’s, but the Hummer actually boasts a few advantages over Jeep’s modern pickup. While most of the Jeep’s off-road specs give it an edge, the Gladiator doesn’t come close to the H3T’s 30.1-degree departure angle, for instance. And in more practical terms, the stubbier H3T has other maneuverability advantages.
The Gladiator has 3″ of wheelbase and 5″ of overall length on the H3T, and a 22.4-foot turning radius to show for it. The Hummer’s? Just 18.5′. This is all the long way ’round to saying that despite being 12 years old, the Hummer H3T is just as competent as any modern off-road pickup, and between those qualifications and the limited run of the V8 Alpha model, remains highly sought-after and valuable on the used market.
Even FCA’s own product planners know that truck buyers love V8s, plus, a truck bed makes an expensive toy a bit more practical. So, what could be better than a fresh take on the midsize V8 off-road truck?