Jeep didn’t bother with complete secrecy after it revealed a V-8-powered Wrangler Rubicon 392 concept earlier this year.
While the company didn’t confirm at the time that it would bring the beast to production, real-world testing gave more than enough hints that Jeep was ready to challenge the new Ford Bronco for off-roading power.
It’s also no secret that Jeep customers have been asking for a V-8 in the Wrangler for years, and the automaker has been listening more to its customers recently, says Scott Tallon, head of Jeep product marketing, who lists ways customers have asked for – and received – model and trim changes recently.
“Put a diesel in the Wrangler? Check. Bring back the Jeep pickup? Check. The return of the Grand Wagoneer? Check,” he says. “Today, we can check another box: The V-8 Wrangler is back.”
Jeep officially announces the ’21 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, which uses a 6.4L V-8 that produces 470 hp and 470 lb.-ft. of torque (637 Nm) through an eight-speed automatic transmission with standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
While the aftermarket has allowed Wrangler owners to add a V-8 before now, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 will be the first production Wrangler with a V-8 under the hood in almost 40 years, and it comes with the capabilities that possible buyers expect after all that time.
That means, unless rivers or rocks are in the way, the Rubicon 392 will be able to go from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.5 seconds, 40% faster than the V-6 Wrangler Rubicon.
The Rubicon 392 will be able to ford water up to 32.5 ins. (83 cm) deep. With its standard 17-in. wheels, 33-in. tires, 10.3 ins. (26 cm) of ground clearance, a 48:1 crawl ratio and full-time all-wheel drive, the new Jeep will be able to maneuver up and around rocky terrain just as well.
It also offers unique suspension geometry, heavy-duty brakes and heavy-duty Dana 44 axles. Four driver-selectable modes will be available: 4WD Auto, 4WD High, Neutral and 4WD Low, which work with Off-road Plus with Sand and Rock modes.
Two features help keep the new V-8 dry and oxygenated: a three-level Hydro-Guide air intake system that can remove up to 15 gallons (57 L) of water per minute away from the engine and a second hood-based air intake that keeps air flowing if the noticeable hood scoop is covered by mud, snow or debris.
Jeep knows its customers want people in parking lots to know the vehicle can handle all manner of treacherous terrain. To appeal to this vanity, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 uses bronze accents to represent its power, says Jamie Standring, Jeep’s chief engineer of performance SUVs.
Jeep used the color on the front and rear tow hooks, the Fox shocks decal and on the Rubicon name on the hood (below) and Trail Rated badge on the sides. New half-doors also will be available.
“When you put a 392 under the hood, you kind of need to let people know it’s there,” Standring says.
There’s the sound signature as well. “Just so everybody knows what you’re driving, we had to do something with the exhaust system,” says Micky Bly, head of global propulsion systems for Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The Wrangler 392 has a specially tuned active dual exhaust system that includes a standard mode – for driving around the neighborhood and “keeping peace,” Tallon says – and a performance mode “so that everybody knows that you’re driving that V-8. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 lets you own the road, whether it’s paved or not.”
The Wrangler Rubicon 392 goes on sale in first-quarter 2021, but that’s just the start of a long celebration FCA is planning for next year to celebrate 80 years of the Jeep brand.
FCA says it will introduce dedicated 80th Anniversary Special Editions for every model currently on sale, each with their own distinctive appearance, special features and content, and discounted prices, Tallon says.
Jeep also will expand its Jeep Wave customer care program to every model and trim in the lineup.