In the past, off-roaders with eight-cylinder engines were considered the best performers. Vehicles like Parnelli Jones’ “Big Oly” Ford Bronco, the Range Rover Classic, and the Chevy K5 Blazer all boasted powerful eight-cylinder engines. However, times have changed, and off-roaders like the Ford Bronco, Toyota 4Runner, and Lexus LX now rely on six- and four-cylinder engines. So, where does that leave the V8-powered off-roaders in today’s eco-conscious world? Well, the Jeep Wrangler 392, Land Rover Defender V8, and Mercedes G-Class (AMG G63) are currently the only off-road capable, high-performance V8 SUVs on the market. To determine which one is the fastest, a comparison test was conducted on a dry lake bed in the California desert, measuring their speed over a quarter-mile drag race.
The first vehicle in the comparison test is the 2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392. It is equipped with a 6.4-liter V8 engine that produces 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Priced at $83,965, the Wrangler 392 features a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission, full-time four-wheel drive with selectable low range, and solid axles with locking differentials. Despite its simplicity, the Wrangler 392 is a capable off-roader, reaching 60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 13.0 seconds.
The second vehicle in the test is the 2022 Land Rover Defender 90 V8. It is powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 engine that generates 518 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. With a price tag of $113,525, the Defender 90 V8 offers a more refined driving experience compared to the Wrangler 392. It features a short wheelbase, providing better stability on the road. The Defender’s interior is also praised for its quality and styling. Off-road, the Defender performs well, with its fully independent suspension, air springs, and advanced Terrain Response system.
The final vehicle in the test is the 2021 Mercedes-AMG G63. It is equipped with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine that delivers an impressive 577 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque. Priced at $184,500, the G63 is the most expensive vehicle in the comparison. It offers a luxurious interior with Nappa leather seats and flashy AMG badges. Despite its size and weight, the G63 performs exceptionally well off-road, thanks to its nine-speed automatic transmission, lockable differentials, and selectable low-range gearing.
After testing the vehicles off-road, a quarter-mile drag race was conducted. The Mercedes-AMG G63 emerged victorious, followed closely by the Land Rover Defender V8 and the Jeep Wrangler 392. Despite the significant price difference, the race was surprisingly close, showcasing the capability of these V8-powered off-roaders.
Overall, while V8-powered off-roaders may be on the decline, the Jeep Wrangler 392, Land Rover Defender V8, and Mercedes-AMG G63 demonstrate that there is still a demand for high-performance V8 SUVs in the market.