Look out, Ford fans—and Colorado ZR2 fans, for that matter—because it appears a hard-core Jeep Gladiator variant may soon bound into the desert-busting truck segment. The rumor was stoked again by JeepGladiatorForum.com, who cite “inside sources” in saying that FCA is testing prototypes for a high-performance Gladiator “Hercules” model to compete with the F-150 Raptor.
Indeed, while details are thinner than a saltine, the site says the Hercules is “currently being evaluated for market viability” so it has yet to be approved. “As such, there have been no supplier contracts yet and prototypes are being built as one-offs for testing purposes.”
The forum also refers to an Autoline After Hours video featuring Mark Allen, Jeep’s design chief, who states fairly clearly—albeit in passing—that, “You will see us expand into [the] high-speed off-road” area. To add visual fuel to the fire, the fan site also whipped up a fresh batch of Jeep Gladiator “Hercules” images featuring various colors and trim, and we gotta say that the thing looks sweet in the renders.
The regular Gladiator won’t arrive at dealerships until later this year, and it will surely sell like gangbusters. That means there won’t be a need for an image- and volume-boosting halo for a while, so we don’t expect to hear anything official for some time—if ever. For now, enthusiasts of bad-ass off-road pickups can get their factory fix from the F-150 Raptor and Chevy Colorado ZR2.