Jeep Wrangler Previews Factory V-8 Engine on Eve of Bronco Launch
The hardcore factory 4×4 competition may be heating up, but Jeep won’t give in to these other guys in town. Jeep today unveiled the Wrangler Rubicon 392 concept, giving its idea of what a Jeep Wrangler with a factory V8 engine might look like. The bomb landed just hours before Ford got ready to remove the leaves from its new Bronco.
A factory Wrangler V-8? It’s a first
Believe it or not, Jeep never offered a Wrangler with a V-8 from the factory. Since the launch of the Wrangler as a 1987 model (the generation of the code name YJ), power enthusiasts and aftermarket equipment such as AEV have taken matters into their own hands, trading all kinds of V-8s in their vehicles while -ground. The last time Jeep’s famous utility vehicle, the Pre-Wrangler CJ, was available with a factory-installed V-8, it was in 1981. This vehicle had a 304 cubic inch V-8 that produced 125 horsepower and 220 lb-ft. of couple. How time flies.
The modern Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is packed with a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 developing 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. Jeep bolted the Hemi to reinforced engine mounts and hitched an eight-speed automatic transmission to deliver engine torque to the third-generation Dana 44 axles with Tru-Lok electronically locked differentials and 3.73 ratios. This last bit, the gear, is intended to temper the thick and wide torque curve of the V-8. Although it carries huge 37-inch Falken Wildpeak MT01 tires, the Rubicon 392 should go from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
To cope with this level of performance, the frame of the 392 Concept has been modified and uses a Selec-Trac two-speed four-wheel drive full-time transfer case (which is more widely used in the Wrangler range for 2021) . In addition to the obvious improvement in V-8 performance, future owners of the Wrangler 392 can take advantage of a dual-mode exhaust inspired by the SRT, which can change the sound profile of the Hemi at the touch of a button.
Jeep assures us that none of the Trail Rating qualities you expect from the Wrangler line have been compromised. The 2.0 inch Jeep Performance Parts lifting kit from the Mopar concept includes Fox aluminum monotube shock absorbers for improved damping performance and improved thermal management on bumps and fast cycle jumps; the extra height also improves wheel travel and axle articulation in difficult conditions. Custom 17-inch bead lock wheels that adhere to the sidewall of tires allow for lower tire pressure (and improved traction), and there is a full line of Rubicon rock rails, steel bumpers, ” a Warn belly pan and winch to protect the concept 392 and save its bacon off road. Thanks to the higher tires and the ride height, approach (51.6 degrees), crossing (29.5 degrees), departure angles (40.1 degrees), as well as ground clearance (13 , 25 inches) have all been significantly improved compared to the original Wrangler. The fording of water also goes from 31 inches to 34 inches.
To make sure that every bit of the goodness of the V-8 does not go unnoticed, the 392 Concept has a unique look that will undoubtedly turn heads, even when this big V-8 is not rumbling. The special color scheme takes a Granite Crystal Metallic exterior with bronze accents on the tow hooks, springs, shock absorbers, wheels and badges and blends it with an interior furnished in Red Rock leather seats and contrasting stitching golden.
The raised performance hood pairs with Jeep’s Sky One-Touch electric roof and long-awaited half doors (without the holes we originally saw when we launched JL) and really looks great to do. In particular, the rear window of the sunroof has been removed, a feature that we have been asking for since our first experience with the high-end roof. Drivers will be able to fight these impulsive side machinations of the 392 Concept with a powerful steering wheel, offered by the Gladiator Mojave.
Jeep just burst Ford’s balloon?
So is it real? Should Ford be worried? Production prospects for the 392 Concept have yet to be officially announced – but one sentence from the Jeep press release is woefully revealing: “Jeep enthusiasts have long called for a production Wrangler powered by a V8 and the new Jeep Wrangler. The Rubicon 392 Concept indicates that they may soon realize their wish. “
We think it means staying tuned for a first look at the production V8-engine Jeep Wrangler later this year, and don’t be surprised if it has even more to offer than what is featured here. In the meantime, enjoy the splashy beginnings of the Ford Bronco. I wonder if this truck will have a V8 – you know Jeep will support the question. . .