Yeah Jeep really, REALLY dropped the ball with that crappy 3.8 V-6. I test drove a 2-door 6-spd with the dinky tires (it did have the weenie highway gearing) and my '00 with 100K on the clock and 32" BFGs--also with the weenie highway gearing--is way more powerful. Granted, the butt dyno is only a butt dyno but still.
I understand why the 4.0 inline was ditched and thats fine. A v-6 as the BASE engine is also ok by me, but why not the 4.0 V-6? Its got something like 260 hp and I forget how much torque. Basically its fairly comparable to the 4.7 V-8, numbers wise. They put them in the minivans all day, which is a waste, IMHO.
Until some better engines--A V-8 AND a turbodiesel become options in all bodystyles and with both manual and auto options on both, the Wrangler will always be held back by a lack of muscle under the hood. Its never going to reach its full potential as the kickass vehicle id COULD be. And anyone who tries to say theres no business case doesnt know what theyre talking about. The aftermarket conversions are hella expensive and yet they're obviously in demand and profitable. The factory could realize economies of scale and do it much more economically.