2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Unveiled!
Photography by Courtesy of Jeep
- 470 hp 6.4-liter V8
- 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds
- Fulltime 4WD
- 2-inch lift
- Fording capability now 32.5-inches
Wrangler fans have wanted a factory production V8 engine under the hood of their Jeeps since well, forever. The mere idea of a V8-powered Jeep Wrangler is so tantalizing. But what makes the new Rubicon 392 so sweet is that Jeep decided to use the SRT-spec 6.4-liter V8 instead of the “normal” 5.7-liter Hemi. And in this trim, the 6.4-liter cranks out 470 hp at 6,000 rpm and 470 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. Jeep says the new Wrangler Rubicon 392 can accelerate to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and hit the ¼-mile in 13 seconds flat. Those numbers are impressive for a performance car and downright astonishing for a Wrangler.
“They’ve been asking, if not begging (for a V8 Wrangler) for years now. In fact, when we did our 392 Concept this summer, the chatter on social media was loud and it was unanimous,” says Director of Jeep Brand, Scott Talon. “Fortunately, we were well underway with the development, so it just reinforced that we were on the right track.”
The new Wrangler Rubicon 392 will be limited-production and arrive in dealerships early next year. Jeep hasn’t announced pricing and it will only come as a 4-door model. You’ll be able to spot a V8 Wrangler by a multitude of bronze badging and trim, including tow hooks and of course that cool 392 emblem on the hood scoop. Oh, and keep an eye out for the quad tailpipes too.
The Jeep team tested the Rubicon 392 on trails in Arizona and Utah as well as the dunes in Glamis, California and the mud of Drummond Island, Michigan’s OHV trails. And yes, the 392 has been over the Rubicon trail as well. Interestingly, the team says there were no leaked photos of them testing the Jeeps.
“Luckily for us, there are so many modified Jeep Wranglers are out there in the world that we were able to hide in plain sight during all our testing adventures,” says Chief Engineer for Performance SUVs Jamie Standring.
Under the Hood
The 6.4-liter, 392 cid V8 is the same SRT-tuned engine familiar to Dodge, Jeep and Ram fans. In this trim, the 6.4-liter makes 470 hp, loosing just 5 hp to the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Dodge Durango SRT models. And Jeep says 75 percent of the engine’s torque is available just above idle speed, which should be perfect for the trail.
The big motor has an active dual exhaust system with quad tips. Around town, the Jeep should remain subdued. But step firmly on the gas and the least-restrictive exhaust path opens for the full SRT experience. And that Performance mode can be engaged at the driver’s will by simply pressing a button. Jeep says, “everyone knows you’re driving that V8.”
To fit that 6.4-liter V8 under the hood of a Wrangler was no easy task. And engineers say that due to the increased torque, they had to beef-up the engine mounts. They also modified the front crossmember to include a dip to clear the crank pulley of the V8. They say the front frame rails were strengthened too.
To help keep the big V8 cool, the team added the hood from the Jeep Gladiator Mojave with a functional cold air scoop. The team moved the cooling module (engineer-speak for radiator) forward by almost an inch to gain space, used the Gladiator’s front grill design for better flow and upgraded the cooling fan from a 650w unit to an 850w one. And that allows the V8 to not only remain chill on the trail but while towing too. It maintains the Wrangler’s 3,500 pound tow capacity and the team says it can in fact maintain the 65 mph speed limit while towing up the notoriously challenging Davis Dam grade near Bullhead City on the Arizona, Nevada border.
The Jeep breathes through an active intake that incorporates what the company is calling a tri-level Hydro Guide system. Jeep says the system can handle 15 gallons of water per minute over the hood—which sounds like quite a bit to us. And Hydro Guide increases the Wrangler’s water fording ability to 32.5-inches (2.5-inches above a standard Rubicon).
The Rubicon 392’s burley V8 comes paired solely to the ZF 8-speed automatic. And from there, power is split to the axles with Selec-Trac transfer case. That’s significant for a few reasons. In the Rubicon 392, Select-Trac will use full-time 4WD on the street—basically all-wheel drive. That’s right, there’s no 2WD mode. This is basically the same transfer case that comes on upscale Sahara models which actually does have a 2WD mode. Jeep’s elimination of 2WD is an interesting move, likely geared towards both preserving driveline components and maximizing acceleration. If the 6.4-liter’s power and torque were sent solely through the rear tires, it would probably create more smoke than speed.
The Selec Trac transfer case has a 2.72:1 low range ratio instead of the more aggressive 4.0:1 unit normally found in the Rubicon. Jeep says all that deep gearing isn’t necessary because the 6.4-liter delivers so much low-end torque. Our hunch is that it’s also a move to maximize durability. But as an added bonus, the taller gearing should actually make the Jeep more fun and useful in both the sand and mud. Now with all the torque of the 6.4-liter V8 on tap, one might expect stronger axles to be slung underneath this Wrangler.
“We considered looking at Dana 60s but our package space was limited,” says Standring. “So, we took the Dana 44s and we upgraded them.”
The front and rear axles are similar to the Dana 44 Advantek units used in the Gladiator Mojave. So the front axle has cast iron knuckles and thicker axle tubes. The rear axle is further upgraded from the unit in the Mojave. It has thicker tubes, but it also has revised suspension mounting points for improved handling. And unlike a Rubicon which uses 4.10:1 gears, the V8 Wrangler has 3.73:1 gears. Of course, the electronic locking differentials are still part of the package.
The 392 doesn’t share the same suspension with conventional Rubicons. In fact, the V8-powered beast rides on springs that are 2-inches taller than a standard Wrangler or one inch taller than those on a normal Rubicon. Jeep says the extra height helped the team package the big V8 engine under the Wrangler’s hood while still maintaining the Rubicon’s impressive axle articulation. And yes, the disconnecting swaybar is still standard equipment.
In the rear, Jeep says they added new suspension geometry along with a stiffer swaybar. And the springs and Fox 2.0 monotube dampers are both re-tuned for this Jeep, the company says, to account for a change in weight distribution. With a curb weight of 5,103-lbs—this Jeep is certainly heavy. In fact, it weighs 654 lbs. more than a 3.6-liter 4-door Rubicon and even 241 lbs. more than an Ecodiesel Rubicon.
A one-inch lift over a standard Rubicon isn’t quite enough to stuff 35-inch tires without rubbing on the trail at maximum articulation. So, the Rubicon 392 still wears 285/70R17 (33-inch) BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires (Falken Wildpeak M/Ts are optional) wrapped around unique and very cool beadlock-capable bronze wheels.
The Rubicon 392 will be the flagship of the Wrangler lineup. So, expect quite a bit of equipment to come standard including the Steel Bumper Group, LED lighting, body colored hard top and flares and the Advanced Safety Group. Of course, the company’s fantastic Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system is standard with an off-road page that shows pitch, roll, GPS location and torque distribution in the drivetrain.
The 392 wears a full leather interior too with special bronze stitching. The seats have additional bolstering and are borrowed from the Mojave (although leather here) and the steering wheel is also the sportier model used in the Mojave but with paddle shifters. Yes, paddle shifters in a Wrangler. And new this year is the return of the half door option package that now comes with a set of steel full doors too. The 392 will come in a choice of 9 colors.
Jeep won’t say exactly how many Wrangler Rubicon 392s they will produce each year. But they did say production will be limited. The team said that this engine won’t find its way into the Gladiator. But knowing Jeep, we’re not sure we believe them. It seems like the Gladiator Mojave was made for this engine. Imagine all that power plus the Mojave’s smooth and capable suspension. That’s a truck we’d want—perhaps even more than a Ram TRX.