Some time ago, during an FCA presentation, the company said there would be another “-Hawk” Jeep, to accompany the TrailHawks and  Trackhawks.  Now, it seems like the DesertHawk, project name Hercules, will be the next Hawk.

Tim Kuniskis, when asked by MotorAuthority about the Hercules rumors, acted as though the idea for a high-power version of the Gladiator or Wrangler designed for desert racing was an idea he’s gotten from the media and bloggers—which, to be fair, is possible. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the echo chamber from reality; on the one hand we’ve had rumors that never came true, and on the other we had the 707-horsepower Hellcat engine, now up to 797 horsepower in the Challenger.

The rumors themselves claim that an SRT V8 will be shoved under the hood of a Wrangler or Gladiator, and accompanied by a specially designed suspension. It would go up against the Tacoma TRD and Colorado ZR2, among others.

The company could benefit from research and development on the Ram TRX, which, according to credible sources, will indeed have a supercharged Hellcat V8, just like the concept pickup did. The downside of these rumors is the difficulty of fitting a huge V8 into a production Wrangler or Gladiator, economically, and without sacrificing either the warranty or the crash-test ratings. There are aftermarket vendors who put 6.4 Hemis into Wranglers, but they don’t need to do crash-tests or warrant the vehicles, bumper to bumper, for three years.

FCA is planning on a 442 pound-foot diesel for the traditional Jeeps, as well as a gasoline-powered inline turbo six which would likely have around 400 horsepower. The turbo (GME-T6) might be a more likely powerplant, since it would not only fit under the hood, but could provide extra space for suspension articulation—a key for any Jeep, true, but especially important for a sand-runner. An oversized V8 would likely require an absurd lift to deal with obstacles at high speed, while a straight-six Wrangler or Gladiator would be able to survive with a much more modest lift. That said, for traditional Jeeps, torque rules the roost and the diesel has more of that.

All this said, the DesertHawk shown in FCA's presentation was actually a Jeep Cherokee. Whether that means the real DesertHawk will be a Cherokee remains to be seen; and Hercules could well be an image car which gives the Cherokee DesertHawk more credibility. Or it could be an idea dreamed up for by someone, somewhere, that gained more and more credibility as various outlets picked up on the idea. Only people within Auburn Hills (and Turin) know for sure.

Discussion’s already started in the forums