Hellcat engine in a Wrangler? Yes, it fits. No, it's not happening.
Supercharged V8 won't be offered in the Wrangler or Gladiator.
Jake HolmesReviews Editor
While studying traditional news journalism in college, Jake realized he was smitten by all things automotive and wound up with an internship at Car and Driver. That led to a career writing news, review and feature stories about all things automotive at Automobile Magazine, most recently at Motor1. When he's not driving, fixing or talking about cars, he's most often found on a bicycle.
Tim Kuniskis, head of Jeep brand, broke the bittersweet news to Australia's Drive last week. He says that because there wouldn't be any leftover space around the Hellcat V8 in the Wrangler or Gladiator's engine bay, crumple zones would be compromised.
"Everybody always asks me that question: it fits. You know that. It fits like a glove," Kuniskis told Drive. "It is not a problem to put it in -- other than emissions and fuel economy -- except it would never pass any crash tests, and that's a problem."
The specific issue: "fitting like a glove" is actually too snug. Said Kuniskis: "There is no air space around the engine and the whole external space of the vehicle so you have no crush space; you have nothing that can be used to absorb energy in a crash."
The news is all the more disappointing given that in 2016, one of Jeep's well-loved Easter Safari concepts a Hellcat-powered Wrangler called the Trailcat. Obviously, though, that concept never reached fruition.
Of course, just because Jeep won't build a Hellcat-powered Wrangler or Gladiator from the factory, that doesn't preclude aftermarket gearheads from doing the same -- although potentially with the same crash-safety issues. Meanwhile, if you do want four-wheel-drive utility with the heroic heart of a Hellcat, there's always the 707-horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Sure, it's not quite as cool as the image of a supercharged Gladiator bounding over hill and dale, but it's the best we'll get any time soon.
2020 Jeep Gladiator is business in front, truck bed in back