How’s 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft sound? Still want that Bronco?
Jeep wasn’t very good at hiding this secret. Back in the summer it revealed the Wrangler 392 Rubicon “Concept”, and you could practically feel the whoosh for how big the air-quotes were. Sure enough, four months later, here it is: the 2021 Wrangler 392 Rubicon is heading for production.
This most powerful engine option in the Wrangler will remain the exclusive domain of the four-door Unlimited shape. During a presentation, Jeep confirmed to AutoGuide that no two-door 392 would appear, nor would the Gladiator get a similar treatment.
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The last time you could find eight cylinders under the hood of a Wrangler (or CJ) straight from the factory, Han Solo was still frozen in carbonite. This one features more displacement than anything that’s come before, with Jeep stuffing the family 6.4-liter (or 392 cubic inches) behind that iconic grille. All in, it produces 470 horsepower and a matching 470 lb-ft of torque, up 20 each from the concept.
That power runs through a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission with a 3.73 final drive ratio, and Jeep’s Selec-Trac active transfer case. Jeep quotes a 48:1 crawl ratio, as well as the ability to lock the rear axle at high speeds.
It feels strange to quote 0–60 mph (0–96 km/h) and quarter-mile times for a Wrangler. It’s even stranger when they’re 4.5 and 13.0 seconds, respectively.
Of course, while Jeep is happy to talk acceleration times, the appeal of a Wrangler is its off-road prowess. The company has upgraded the frame rails, front upper control arms, and cast iron steering knuckles for 392 duty. Dana 44 axles remain front and rear, with thicker axle tubes and the electronic locking diffs. The whole truck also sits 2.0 inches (51 mm) higher than the regular Rubicon, with unique FOX aluminum monotube shocks. Jeep’s electronically-decoupling front sway bar is also standard. 17-inch, beadlock-capable wheels sit at all four corners, with 33-inch all-terrain tires.
Jeep has also concocted something it calls Hydro-Guide for the Rubicon 392. This unique air intake system uses a three-level duct system to pull water away from the engine’s intake. Hydro-Guide can shift up to 15 gallons of water per minute.
Add it all together and the numbers are impressive. How’s 10.3 inches (260 mm) of ground clearance? The ability to wade its way through 32.5 inches (825 mm) of water. Approach, breakover, and departure angles of 44.5, 22.6, and 37.5 degrees, respectively? Yeah, we thought so.
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“This is the most powerful, quickest, most capable Jeep Wrangler we’ve ever built,” said Jim Morrison, Jeep brand head. “The factory lift and abundant low-end torque from the V8 makes the Rubicon 392 the king of the hills, whether you’re rock crawling at low speeds or powering up an incline. And, when pavement replaces dirt, Rubicon 392 makes quick work of the road.”
There are a fair amount of visual cues to set the 392 apart from the rest of the Wrangler lineup. A functional hood scoop is a big hint up front, feeding air to that big eight-pot. Should it get blocked up—be it mud, snow, or small woodland creatures—an additional air path inside the hood structure directs air to the engine. The requisite 392 badges sit on both sides of the scoop, traced in bronze. The color is unique to the 392, and you’ll find it on the Rubicon badge, the tow hooks, Jeep badge, Trail Rated badge, and FOX Shocks decal. Poking out under the rear bumper are four exhaust tips. An active dual-mode system gives the exhaust the necessary V8 bark, and drivers can switch it at will.
The bronze accents continue inside, with the leather interior getting stitching in the same hue. Unique seats feature upper bolsters to keep folks locked in as the Wrangler does its thing. Most surprising, the Wrangler adopts paddle shifters for the very first time in its history. Jeep still doesn’t recommend you take it to a track day, though.
A Uconnect system is naturally present, on the upsized 8.4-inch screen. It includes Jeep’s Off-road Pages feature, showing the Wrangler’s current angles (laterally and longitudinally), altitude, power distribution, and other info.
Jeep didn’t release pricing yet—nor expected fuel mileage. At least with the latter, the V8 can run on half its cylinders during light loads. We should know more about pricing for this ultimate Wrangler ahead of its public availability in the first half of 2021.
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