Slideshow: Get a 2018 Wrangler With a Chevy LS V8
Although the new JL Jeep Wrangler models are just hitting the streets, turn-key V8 conversions are soon to be available to give owners all the power they'd ever need.
An LS Extravaganza
The Chevrolet LS-series V8 engine has become the gold standard when considering an engine swap for any make or model vehicle. The LS provides an abundance of power at a relatively affordable cost while remaining exceptionally reliable due to its robust design. With such enormous support by the aftermarket, it is clear why the LS conversion has dominated the engine swap scene. With a growing popularity in JK models, many considered it only a matter of time before a swap kit would be made for the JL. Surprisingly, one company has wasted no time as their JL LS V8 conversions are now ready for willing donors.
From Six to Eight
The JL Wrangler was introduced with the same 3.6L Pentastar V6 as found in the outgoing JK that produces a respectable 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Additionally, orders are now being taken for the turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder that has comparable power figures (270hp/290 ft-lb), and a 3.0L diesel is rumored to be in the works for 2019-2020 as well. By comparison, the 6.2L LS3 V8 that is commonly used in a base level engine swap is good for 430 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque. A 40% gain in power is substantial, but perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the Chevy LS is only about 30 pounds heavier than the Pentastar engine.
A First For The JL
Jeeps have gotten along just fine with their previous straight-six and current V6 engine offerings for quite some time, but an LS V8 and a Jeep Wrangler sounds like a match made in heaven to many enthusiasts. A quick search of the web will reveal numerous companies that have offered JK Wrangler swap kits, but it seems as if Bruiser Conversions is the first to the table with their JL-LS offerings.
Turn-Key or DIY
Bruiser Conversions has offered various engine swaps for both TJ and JK Wranglers that span from DIY kits to full-on Turn-Key specials, and have even displayed some of their awesome work at SEMA. Their current JL offerings include a Stage 1 LS3 engine conversion rated at 450 horsepower or an uprated Stage 2 swap that sees an additional 50 horsepower and 45 lb-ft of torque over the Stage 1 build. At this time, Bruiser is only offering Turn-Key conversions, but they are taking pre-orders for their DIY kit.
Retaining Original Functions
The hurdle for any engine swap into a modern vehicle is getting all of the electronics to play nice with each other, but Bruiser claims they have everything sorted out by going through the Jeep from top to bottom. The LS is fully-integrated with the Jeep's original equipment: meaning that all of the vehicle's gauges, indicators, sensors, and especially the powertrain control (cruise control, hill descent, etc.) will work as seamlessly as they did with the original engine.
A Transmission Fit For Duty
The transmission is often a talking point when considering any V8 swap because they tend to need strengthening when additional power is added. Fortunately, the Chrysler Torqueflite 8-speed auto found in the JL is the same unit used behind a number of Mopar hot-rods that utilize 5.7L & 6.4L Hemi power with great success. Rated to withstand over 550 lb-ft of torque, the Torqueflite transmission connected to the LS3 via Bruiser's own adapter should serve the Wrangler nicely in stock form.
A Bruiser of a Wrangler
So the big question is how much is one of these LS conversions gonna set you back? If Bruiser Conversions' JK swaps are any indication on pricing, expect it to fall between the $20,000-30,000 range on top of the price of a new JL Wrangler. Generally, their DIY kits run about $5,000 cheaper than having them do the install for a Turn-Key vehicle, but the newer electronics may make things a bit more complex. In any case, an LS swap seems to be the ultimate conversion that is sure to allow your Wrangler to tackle even the toughest of terrain when wheeling.
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