Jeep teased fans with what would be the first V8-powered Wrangler since the 1981 Wrangler CJ "Civilian Jeep" (CJ). The timing is interesting, given that the Fiat-Chrysler-owned SUV brand revealed the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept on the exact same day Ford unveiled a competitor in the revamped 2021 Bronco. An accompanying teaser video even shows the Jeep scattering a herd of horses. The symbolism is not lost on anyone.
And while the Bronco is offered with either a 310-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 or a 270-hp turbocharged four-cylinder, this Wrangler boasts a massive naturally aspirated 6.4-liter V8 that cranks 450 hp and 450 pound-feet of torque through a robust eight-speed automatic transmission and full-time two-speed 4x4 transfer case. Jeep, which has never been a badge associated with high speed, even claims a sub-five zero-to-60 mph time to go along with plenty of low-end torque.
Requisite upgrades to support the powertrain include heftier engine mounts and a modified frame, while the aluminum suspension gets monotube Fox shocks for improved damping and heat dissipation. Other features include two-mode exhaust, Dana 44 axles, electric front- and rear-axle locking differentials, and 17-inch beadlock wheels that help secure 37-inch mud-terrain tires on extremely lateral roads, allowing for reduced tire pressure operation and added traction.
A Mopar two-inch lift kit increases ride height for additional suspension articulation and superior approach, breakover and departure angles. Rubicon rock rails, steel bumpers, a winch, and a steel undercarriage promise to keep the Wrangler Rubicon 392 rocking on potentially hazardous grounds.
The body, shown here in "Granite Crystal" paint, contrasts with bronze accented tow hooks, badging, springs, shocks and wheels, while heavy-duty raised performance hood adds a hint of aggression. Custom half-doors and a powertop open up to reveal Red Reck-colored leather clad seats with gold stitching.
“Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts have been asking us for a Wrangler V-8 and our new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept proves that we have the ability to make that happen,” said Jeep executive Jim Morrison.
It sounds like a V8 might actually be offered on production Wranglers, alongside the 2.0-liter inline-four, 3.6-liter Pentastart V6, turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6, and the upcoming Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid. Fingers crossed.