Truck wars. Pony-car/muscle-car wars. Sports-car wars. Now, we have off-road wars.
The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is a not-so-subtle way for Jeep to lob a grenade, metaphorically speaking, at Ford.
It was a concept, but there was almost no chance it wouldn’t be built, and so here it is for real, as a Jeep you can actually buy: A Wrangler with a Hemi V8. Even if Jeep won’t use the word “Hemi” for some mysterious reason or reasons, it is a Hemi.
The reason that Jeep won’t use the word Hemi is likely this: The brand doesn’t want to step on Dodge’s toes.
Right as the Ford Bronco comes to market, and as Jaguar Land Rover launches a new Defender. That latter vehicle has been rumored to possibly be getting a V8 soon.
Back to the Jeep. For the first time in almost 40 years, there’s a factory V8 under a Wrangler hood. This one displaces 6.4-liters and makes 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque and connects to an eight-speed automatic transmission that has paddle-shifters.
Jeep is claiming a 0-60 time that’s 40 percent faster than what the V6 Rubicon can do, at 4.5 seconds. The quarter-mile passes in 13 seconds flat. But this rig isn’t just a burner – Jeep, being Jeep, put in more off-road capability.
The full-time four-wheel-drive 392 gets heavy-duty Dana 44 wide-track axles with electronic differentials, electronic front sway-bar disconnect, a 2-inch lift, upgraded frame rails, different suspension geometry, heavy-duty brakes, FOX high-performance shocks, 33-inch tires on 17-inch wheels, active dual-mode exhaust sound, quad tailpipes, and a functional hood scoop.
A secondary path for intake air allows the engine to power the vehicle all the way up to the top speed even if the main intake is blocked by mud or whatnot. The air-intake system can also funnel water away from the engine at up to 15 gallons per minute.
There’s a 48:1 crawl ratio and that, along with the way the torque converter locks, plus all the torque on hand, should allow for idle-speed rock trawling. Ground clearance is at 10.3 inches, and approach, breakover, and departure angles are listed at 44.5, 22.6, and 37.5 degrees, respectively. Water-fording ability is listed at up to 32.5 inches.
The low-range gear ratio is 2.72.
Inside, buyers get a leather-wrapped steering wheel and more aggressive seat bolstering. Exterior bronze accents also set the Rubicon 392 apart, as does an Off-road Plus drive mode that allows drivers to lock the rear axle at higher speeds in four-wheel-drive high. There are also Sand and Rock modes. Drivers can also use electronic trickery to use buttons on the steering wheel to set speeds between 1 and 5 mph in 4-Low while wheelin’. No brake or throttle input needed.
New half doors will be available. The gauge cluster is different from other Wranglers, and leather seats and UConnect with the 8.4-inch infotainment screen are standard. Off-road pages allow drivers to check out all kinds of off-road performance indicators, such as roll, pitch, and altitude.
This Wrangler will be sold in nine different paint colors, and it comes standard with features that are usually optional on Wranglers. In addition to UConnect and the leather interior, those include body-color hardtop, body-color fender flares, a switch bank, LED lighting, steel bumpers, the Cold Weather Group (heated seats and the like), remote proximity entry, Safety Group, and Advanced Safety Group.
If aftermarket customization is your thing, Mopar has plenty of accessories for you.
Look for this vehicle to go on sale in the first quarter of 2021.
A V8 Wrangler may seem ridiculous, but it’s not like the aftermarket hasn’t given Wrangler owners this option for decades. At least this one will have a factory warranty.