Tonka Toys Go To War On The Dirt: The Wrangler 392 Takes On The G-63 AMG And The Defender 90 V-8
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Tonka Toys Go To War On The Dirt: The Wrangler 392 Takes On The G-63 AMG And The Defender 90 V-8

Which one of these V-8 powered SUVs will come out on top?

Not that they were ever built for speed (or were they now?), Motor1 decided to pit three high-performance V-8-powered rigs against each other on a dry lake bed, out in the deserts of California. The purpose of this battle was to determine the fastest of the trio on the dirt.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

Tonka Toys Go To War On The Dirt: The Wrangler 392 Takes On The G-63 AMG And The Defender 90 V-8
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The first contender is the homegrown Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, which is packing a naturally aspirated 6.4-L that produces 470 hp and 470 lb-ft. The Jeep is the lightest SUV here at just 5100 lbs

In the blue corner, you’ve got the homegrown Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, an SUV that off-road enthusiasts had been waiting for forever. Well, thankfully, it’s finally here. The biggest draw of the 392 as the name suggests is what’s lurking under the hood. The 6.4-liter naturally aspirated V-8 produces 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, that’s mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It certainly has quite the soundtrack for an SUV, let alone a Wrangler.

Simplicity is the name of the game here. There are no high-tech drive modes and active suspension settings. But the essentials are there. Full-time all-wheel drive with selectable low range, solid axles (with locking differentials at both ends). The Jeep does look like the most off-road of the bunch, thanks in part to those massive 35-inch mud-terrain tires. As tested, you’re looking at an MSRP of $83,695.

Land Rover Defender V-8

Tonka Toys Go To War On The Dirt: The Wrangler 392 Takes On The G-63 AMG And The Defender 90 V-8
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Next in line is the stealthy LR Defender 90 Carpathian Editon. Under the hood lies a 5.0-L supercharged mill that produces 518 hp and 461 lb-ft. The Defender weighs 5447 lbs

This is the Land Rover Defender 90 Carpathian Edition. This is the short-wheelbase version of the Defender, which makes it ideal for this company. It was not that long ago that Land Rover finally filled the void of a more powerful engine for the new Defender in the form of a good ol’ V-8. But it wasn’t just any ol’ V-8 but a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 that punches out a healthy 518 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque that’s mated to an eight-speed auto.

While it may look like a throwback to the legendary Series 1, it is a thoroughly modern vehicle. Independent suspension, a unibody construction, full-time four-wheel drive, and lockable center diff make, low range are what make the LR for what it truly is. Land Rover’s terrain response sure does come in handy in tricky off-road situations. As tested, you’re looking at a sticker price of $113,525 for the Defender.

Mercedes Benz AMG G63

Tonka Toys Go To War On The Dirt: The Wrangler 392 Takes On The G-63 AMG And The Defender 90 V-8
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Finally, you’ve got the poser mobile, a matte grey Mercedes Benz G-63 AMG. Now, while you might think of it as a boulevard cruiser (cause that’s where you mostly find these things) the Mercedes, does pack some serious hardware in terms of off-road kit, its three locking diffs are legendary.

Under the hood lies a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine that pumps out 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful SUV of the three. Power is sent to all-four wheels via a nine-speed box. The G-Wagen is by far the poshest and most expensive of the bunch here. As tested, the Merc costs a whopping $184,500, making it over 100 grand more than the Jeep.

The Races


The Defender and the G-Wagen are both pretty high-tech allowing the guys to customize the setting to their liking prior to the race. Not really the case in the Wrangler, which is why the driver in the Jeep decided to give it the beans from a dig. The Jeep does have the weight advantage, being the lightest SUV here. Will that help?

Round 1

Tonka Toys Go To War On The Dirt: The Wrangler 392 Takes On The G-63 AMG And The Defender 90 V-8
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Both the Mercedes and the Land Rover have various drive modes and settings to play around with. In the Jeep, things are far simpler. Will the Wrangler’s weight advantage help it?

Off the bat, none of the SUVs had traction issues (obviously), but it was the Austrian-made G-63 that took the lead early on, and that lead only got bigger as the race progressed. Behind the Merc was the Defender followed by the Wrangler in third. The G-Wagnen crosses the cone at 110 mph.

Round 2

Tonka Toys Go To War On The Dirt: The Wrangler 392 Takes On The G-63 AMG And The Defender 90 V-8
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The guys turn back for another pass on the dirt

They turn around for another round. But once again, despite a sluggish start, the G-63 came out on top, once again demolishing the 1/4 mile at 110 mph.

Conclusion

Tonka Toys Go To War On The Dirt: The Wrangler 392 Takes On The G-63 AMG And The Defender 90 V-8
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So the Merc won on this particular occasion. But it begs the question, what if this wasn’t a perfectly flat surface

So the Mercedes won. Given that it costs considerably more than the other two SUVs here, it’d better win. The Jeep was sitting on 35-inch rubber, not ideal for high speeds. I wonder how this battle would have played out, had it been a dune bashing blast across the desert rather than a flat-lake bed. Now that would have been more like it isn’t it? Throw in a Bronco Raptor in the mix and it would be an all-out riot.

Khris Bharath
Khris Bharath
Khris is a classic car aficionado and adores his Jags and Alfas, although he keeps tabs on everything from super exotics like an old EB 110 to the latest from Lucid. Formula One is very close to his heart, and he diligently makes time to tune in for the Grand Prix on Sundays. Khris also loves his road trips and he prefers stick shift over an Auto any day.  Read full bio
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