by Jay Traugott
For the first time in a very long time, the Jeep Wrangler has serious competition in the form of the all-new Ford Bronco. Just as the new Blue Oval was being revealed last summer, Jeep presented the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, a Hemi-powered version that looked production-ready. And now, just four months later, the production vehicle has arrived.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 may not have a supercharged Hellcat V8 under the hood but it does have the 6.4-liter Hemi V8, specially tuned for this latest project. Combined with a series of several other modifications, the Rubicon 392 is Jeep's most capable Wrangler to date, both on- and off-road. It may not be for everyone, but those who do make the purchase will be greatly rewarded. They'll also be able to secure certain bragging rights over those driving the less powerful (but still highly capable) Bronco.
6.4-liter V8 Gas
The Wrangler Rubicon 392 is based on the regular Rubicon Unlimited (meaning it's a four-door only model), but there are some noticeable exterior changes, all of which were done for improved off-road capabilities. The 392's ride height has been increased by two inches and a set of 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels wrapped in 33-inch tires are standard. There's a total of 10.3 inches of ground clearance.
Some unique styling features include bronze accents on the front and rear tow hooks and hood. There are also the must-have Trail Rated badges. A total of nine exterior colors will be available: Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal Metallic, Punk 'n' Metallic, Sarge Green Metallic, Snazzberry Metallic, Sting-Gray Metallic, and Billet Silver. Buyers will find other familiar brand exterior styling cues, including an optional body-color hard top and flares, steel bumper, and LED headlights.
Perhaps the 392's most distinctive exterior feature is its 1.57-inch raised hood taken from the Gladiator Mojave and the functional hood scoop because that Hemi V8 needs to be able to breathe.
At first glance, the 392's interior may look nearly identical to that of the standard Rubicon, but there are some nice upgrades. For starters, there's a first-ever for a Wrangler leather-wrapped steering wheel with aluminum paddle shifters. The black interior boasts bronze stitching to match the exterior bronze trim. Look closely and you'll see the gauge cluster has received an update due to the new engine specs.
As the 392 is the top-of-the-line Wrangler, an 8.4-inch touchscreen equipped with FCA's excellent Uconnect infotainment system comes as standard. The rest of the interior remains unchanged from the rest of the Wrangler lineup, which is certainly no bad thing. The latest generation Wrangler debuted in late 2017 and the interior has aged very well so far. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 is a four-door only model with the same rear seat and cargo space as the rest of the Wrangler Unlimited trims.
The heart of the Wrangler Rubicon 392 is, of course, the naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi V8, now rated at 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. About 75 percent of peak torque kicks in just above engine idle speed. An upgraded exhaust system goes perfectly with that V8 rumble. For Jeep history buffs, a V8-powered Wrangler was last available in 1981.
The sole gearbox is an eight-speed automatic and a full-time transfer case. Jeep claims the 392 will go from 0-62 mph in 4.5 seconds and complete the quarter-mile in 13 seconds flat.
Off-road performance is aided by a transmission torque converter lockup control, heavy-duty wide track Dana 44 axles, and a 3.73 final drive ratio. Improvements have also been made to the suspension for better maneuverability. Those planning for some serious off-road adventures will be glad to know the 392 has approach, break-over, and departure angles of 44.5, 22.6, and 37.5 degrees, respectively. Shallow rivers and streams also won't be much of a concern since the vehicle can wade through a maximum of 32.5 inches of water. Jeep says the 392 successfully climbed up and down steep grades with little throttle and brake input during final testing.
Jeep has yet to announce official pricing but chances are the 2021 Wrangler Rubicon 392 will be the most expensive of the lineup. The regular Rubicon Unlimited begins at $42,195 and the 392 comes with several thousand dollars worth of features. A reasonable starting price guess for the 392 is around $50,000, but we won't know for sure until closer to the spring 2021 on-sale date.
Competition-wise, well, there isn't much. No other midsize SUV with serious off-road capabilities offers a V8 these days. As is currently the case, the Wrangler's most serious rival is the 2021 Ford Bronco, also available in two- and four-door body styles. However, the Bronco's most powerful engine is a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 with 310 hp and 400 lb-ft. While the Wrangler Rubicon 392 will smash the most powerful Bronco on-road, the expected off-road showdown is something no one will want to miss.