Jeep fans have been clamoring for a V8-powered Wrangler for as long as I can remember. The last Jeep to have a factory V8 engine dates back well before my birthdate, so it’s easy to understand the hype behind the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392. This vehicle marks the return of a production V8 engine in a Wrangler after nearly 40 years. For millennials and younger Gen Xers, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is the first-ever Wrangler with a standard V8 motor, and what an engine it is.
You know Jeep is serious when it chooses the biggest naturally-aspirated Hemi V8 in the FCA family. The 6.4-liter Hemi, also known as the 392, is a technological showcase with an active intake manifold, two spark plugs per cylinder, variable cam timing, hollow intake valves, and piston oil cooling jets. Dodge Charger and Challenger fans know this engine well. It’s even available in the 2021 Durango, so it’s about time Jeep joined the club.
Capable of producing 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft. of twist, the engine churns out peak torque at just above idling speed, and you know what this means, right? Mated to an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic driving all four wheels via a Selec-Trac full-time active transfer case, it means zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and a quarter-mile run in 13 seconds, awe-inspiring for an off-road vehicle. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 won’t look out of place on the drag strip despite having 17-inch Beadlock wheels, 33-inch tires, and a two-inch lift kit from the factory.
“This is the most powerful, quickest, most capable Jeep Wrangler we’ve ever built,” said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA North America. “The factory lift and abundant low-end torque from the V8 makes the Rubicon 392 the king of the hills, whether rock crawling at low speeds or powering up an incline.”
Innovative Hydro-Guide Cold Air Intake
Sure, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 can run with sports cars, but we’re still talking about a Jeep here. Offering 10.3 inches of ground clearance and the ability to go across 32.5 inches of water, Jeep knows it needs to keep the mighty V8 engine breathing no matter the circumstances. The Wrangler 392 has a high-mounted alternator and a rear-sump oil pan to improve the vehicle’s river-crossing abilities. It also has a bespoke Hydro-Guide air intake system with multiple air pathways, a tri-level ducting system, and a one-way drain in the airbox that, according to Jeep, can drain up to 15 gallons of water per minute.
Drawing massive amounts of air via a standard hood scoop (lifted directly from the Jeep Gladiator Mojave), this innovative intake system ensures a steady supply of cold air inside the motor even if a bow wake washes over the hood. And if obstructions like mud, snow, dirt, or debris cover the hood scoop, the engine can still breathe via a secondary air path within the hood.
All-Weather & All-Terrain Capabilities
Despite having the heart of an SRT muscle car, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is at its best when the roads turn to mush. The standard MP3022 Selec-Trac two-speed transfer case has four selectable driving modes (4WD Auto, 4WD High, Neutral, and 4WD Low), a 3.73:1 axle ratio, and a 2.72.1:1 low range gear. The Selec-Trac transfer case also allows for neutral or flat-towing.
Meanwhile, the new Off-Road Plus driving mode with dedicated Sand and Rock modes will be useful to conquer demanding terrain. And with a 48:1 crawl ratio, you can climb or go over almost anything.
The Wrangler 392 comes with Tru-Lok electronic-locking Dana 44 axles, a stiffer rear stabilizer bar, and a disconnecting front anti-roll bar for better wheel articulation. Also standard are high-performance Fox monotube shock absorbers, new upper control arms, cast-iron steering knuckles, and larger vented brakes with single-piston calipers.
Since the newest Wrangler 392 sits an inch higher than a regular Jeep Rubicon, the approach angle (44.5 degrees), ramp breakover (22.6 degrees), and departure angle (37.5 degrees) are more than enough to leave lesser off-road vehicles in the dust.
Enter The Bronze Age
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 still bears iconic Wrangler design cues with its wide stance, round headlights, and trapezoidal wheel arches. Making it stand out from a standard Wrangler Rubicon is a new grille design, quad exhaust tips, and a bevy of bronze accents, including the decals, those Beadlock-capable wheels, and special interior stitching.
Standard equipment includes a fat-rimmed competition-style tiller, aluminum steering-mounted paddle shifters (the first in a Wrangler), plush leather upholstery with Rubicon 392 embroidery, and an 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment screen. The latter features a new off-road menu to display vital data, including GPS coordinates, pitch, roll, altitude, drivetrain power distribution, and more.
Pricing & Availability
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 will arrive at U.S. dealerships in early 2021. Pricing is still forthcoming, but we expect the base MSRP to start between $60,000 to $68,000. The latest V8 Jeep will only arrive in four-door guise, although buyers can specify half-doors while choosing between three roof options like in a standard Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is available in nine exterior colors: Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal Metallic, Punk ’n Metallic, Sarge Green Metallic, Snazzberry Metallic, Sting-Gray Metallic, and Billet Silver Metallic, all with a black interior.
Alvin Reyes is an Automoblog feature columnist and an expert in sports and performance cars. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.