Jeep Wrangler owners aren’t usually the type to challenge Porsche Boxsters to drag races, usually because they know they’d lose. After looking at the newest aftermarket special Wrangler, though, we’d like to reconsider that fact.
Yes, sitting in the Automobile Magazine garage this week is an up-rated Jeep Wrangler with bigger wheels and tires, a raised and improved suspension, more skid and crash plates, a winch, and some spotlights. But pop the hood on this Rubicon and you’re in for a surprise: the engineers at American Expedition Vehicles in Wixom, Michigan, have stuffed in a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 — the same engine found in Chrysler’s 2012 line of SRT8 vehicles.
In most other applications, that 6.4-liter V-8 is good for 470 hp. For packaging purposes, however, AEV was forced to bolt on the air intake from the smaller 5.7-liter Hemi, which means it’s good for 390 hp. If that’s not enough for you, don’t worry: our model’s intake is “pre-production.” AEV promises that the production models will get the full “short runner” intake from the 6.4, so customer Wranglers should have the full 470, a staggering 268 hp more than the Rubicon it’s based on. Other powertrain revisions include the transmission — AEV mates the Hemi up to a five-speed automatic transmission borrowed from the Dodge Ram 2500.
When it comes to modifications performed beneath the frame rails, the suspension has been lifted roughly 3.5 inches (3 in front, 4 out back) and fitted with massive 35-inch BFGoodrich tires with special AEV wheels. AEV claims that its suspension modifications (which drop the control arm brackets, among other things) all but eliminate the drawbacks of lifting the car, and that slalom speeds on the Hemi-fied Wrangler are equal to or better than the stock model.
Interested? We’re not surprised. To grab yourself an AEV Wrangler, all you have to do is ring American Expedition Vehicles and pull out a no-limit credit card: the modifications alone on our tester amounted to just over $44000. AEV assures us, however, that owners can buy any individual mods a la carte.
For now, we’re piloting the AEV-tuned JK for a few days. Tell us: what would you like to know about the truck? Send us your questions in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to answer them over the coming days.