With the Internet in a frenzy over the all-new Ford Bronco earlier this year, Jeep attempted to steal a bit of the off-roading limelight with a conveniently timed Wrangler Rubicon ‘392’. It claimed the thing was a concept, with brand boss Jim Morrison saying the company was keen to gauge the reaction from Jeep fans. In reality, it had already built 30 prototypes.
Sounds like they already knew Jeep fans would dig it, and a test mule was spotted not long after. Sure enough, the full production version is now here. Do try your best to look shocked.
It’s the first production Wrangler in nearly 40 years to sport a V8, courtesy of a 6.4-litre (392 cubic inches, hence the car’s name) naturally-aspirated mill producing 464bhp and 470lb ft of torque. That’s more than enough go to overcome the 2.3-tonne kerb weight and give some impressive performance, with 0-60mph taking just 4.5 seconds.
The V8’s shove is transferred to all four wheels via an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic gearbox, with no manual available. It’ll make a decent noise, too, with a dual-mode, quad-exit exhaust enhancing the soundtrack. To prepare the chassis for the uplift in torque, meanwhile, Jeep has upgraded the frame rails, front upper control arms and the steering knuckles.
The 392 won’t be slowed much when you leave the road, with Jeep opting to fit a 51mm lift kit and beefy Fox monotube dampers. It gets wider Dana 44 axles with electronically-locking differentials, a Selec-Trac two-speed transfer case, and an electronically-disconnecting front anti-roll bar to give extra articulation.
The approach, breakover and departure angles are 44.5, 22.6 and 37.5 degrees respectively, compared to the regular Rubicon’s 43.5, 22.6 and 37 figures. The wading depth is rated at 825mm as a result of the extra ground clearance and a special air intake that can divert up to 68 litres of water a minute away from the engine.
It’s well equipped as standard, with 11 normally optional features including a leather interior, the infotainment pack and LED lighting specced at no extra cost. It sits on Beadlock-capable 17-inch wheels shod in 33-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain tyres. They’re finished in bronze, to go with the various other bronze accents going on inside and out of the 392. Snazzy.
It’ll go on sale in the USA during the first quarter of 2021, for an as-yet-undisclosed price. To give you an idea of how much it might cost, a Rubicon EcoDiesel is $49,290, meaning the 392 should comfortably eclipse the range-topping, $60,800 Bronco.
Although Jeep was kind enough to bring the mad Grand Cherokee Trackhawk over to Britain, the UK press office confirmed it won’t do the same with the Wrangler 392. This doesn’t come as a surprise. FCA is already paying Tesla millions of Euros to count the EV firm’s vehicles in its EU fleet emissions average and avoid fines, so a V8 off-roader, however modest the sales volumes, wouldn’t be the most helpful thing to sell this side of the pond.