Should we get excited for this high-performance version, or is the Gladiator enough?

The Jeep Gladiator only made its debut last November, and, figuratively speaking, at least, it’s already churning the rumor mill like a pro. Word has it that a high-performance version of the Gladiator is already being drawn up, and it’s carrying the name of a Greek god and hero that all of us are very familiar with. The high-performance Gladiator is tipped to carry the name “Hercules,” a nod to the mighty Olympian sired by no less than Zeus himself. Though we’re short an official confirmation from Jeep, the Gladiator Hercules would be a fitting name for a brawnier version of Jeep’s all-new pickup.

A High-Performance Jeep Gladiator

The Jeep Gladiator Herculean Could Scratch That High-Performance, Off-Road Itch Exterior
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It’s not the first time that we’re hearing about a high-performance version of the Jeep Gladiator. Jeep’s design chief, Mark Allen, already hinted on that possibility shortly after the launch of the Gladiator at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show last November. Like a pro, however, Allen didn’t specifically mention the Gladiator Hercules by name, nor did he say that there’s going to be just one high-performance version of a pickup that Jeep clearly has big plans for. And so, the rumor mill started churning, and the latest word about a possible high-performance Gladiator comes to us straight from the Jeep Gladiator Forum, a place where the members only talk about Jeep’s new pride and joy.

The speculation at the moment is that Jeep is developing a more muscle-bound version of the Gladiator pickup.

According to one member of the Jeep Gladiator forum, development of the Gladiator Hercules has reached the point where Jeep is already building test prototypes of the go-faster Gladiator. Granted, that’s not an ironclad sign that we’re going to see the Gladiator Hercules soon, but if there are any legs to this rumor, test prototypes are big indications that Jeep isn’t playing us for fools. It’s not a foregone conclusion, either, and even if Jeep did build and launch a Gladiator Hercules, there’s no certainty that it will be offered in this market. Remember, the Ford Ranger Raptor, the souped-up version of the Ranger pickup, isn’t available in the U.S. market. If Jeep decides to build the Gladiator Hercules and offer it in the U.S.; it could represent a big opportunity for Jeep to mark its territory in this niche corner.

The Jeep Gladiator Herculean Could Scratch That High-Performance, Off-Road Itch Exterior
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As far as design goes, the Jeep Gladiator Hercules should look meaner and more aggressive than its standard counterpart. That’s all part of carrying the Hercules name, right? If that’s the case, we can expect Jeep to dive deep into the Mopar parts bin for equipment and components that would fit into the Gladiator Hercules’ meaner identity. Power numbers will be interesting, too, especially since the standard Gladiator already boasts a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that produces 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Obviously, a more potent version of the Gladiator is going to have more power at its disposal.

The question is whether Jeep will simply tune the existing V-6 or it sources a bigger and more potent engine to fit under the Gladiator Hercules’ hood.

Could a HEMI engine find its way into the Jeep Gladiator Hercules? Better yet, is Jeep crazy enough to consider using a Hellcat engine on a pickup? It could do it if it thinks that doing so would be a good idea.

All of this speculating doesn’t answer the most important question of all: does it even make sense to build one? To its credit, that’s what Jeep wants to find out. Does the Jeep Gladiator Hercules make sense in the first place? I’ll say “yes” for the simple reason that Jeep is already playing with house money. As exciting as the Gladiator Hercules sounds, it’s not as important a model to Jeep as the “standard” Gladiator. That’s the model that’s going to move the company’s sales numbers, not a niche performance version that may or may not even make it here.

The Jeep Gladiator Herculean Could Scratch That High-Performance, Off-Road Itch Exterior
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Ultimately, the Jeep Gladiator Hercules sounds like a great idea. Actually, it is a great idea, provided that Jeep develops it properly. But that model is more of a cake-topper than anything else. The real important model — the Jeep Gladiator — makes up the heart of that cake. That’s what we should all be looking forward to.

2020 Jeep Gladiator specifications

Type and Description 60-degree, V-type, liquid-cooled
Displacement (cu. in. / cc) 220 cu. in. (3,604 cu. cm)
Bore x Stroke 3.78 x 3.27 (96 x 83)
Valve System Chain-driven DOHC, 24 valves and hydraulic end-pivot roller rockers
Fuel Injection Sequential, multiport, electronic, returnless
Construction Aluminum deep-skirt block, aluminum alloy heads
Compression Ratio 11.3:1
Power 285 HP @ 6,400 RPM
Torque 260 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM

Further reading

The Jeep Gladiator Herculean Could Scratch That High-Performance, Off-Road Itch Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Jeep Gladiator.

2005 Jeep Gladiator concept
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Jeep Gladiator concept

Read our full review on the 2005 Jeep Gladiator Concept.

Source: Jeep Gladiator Forum

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