If you were to walk into a Jeep dealership today, you’d have three engine options when you go to look at a Wrangler. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the smallest unit, followed up by a 3.0-liter diesel and the staple 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with up to 285 horsepower. What you can’t get is a rip-snorting Hemi V8, but that may soon change. Meet the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept — an answer to enthusiasts’ cries for an engine which hasn’t existed in the Wrangler since 1981.
So, why now? Beyond regulations possibly cutting off FCA’s ability to go berserk with V8 engines in the future, the company is likely showing it isn’t going to take a full frontal assault from the new Ford Bronco lying down.
Making a V8 Wrangler
Mind you, back then the 5.0-liter V8 on offer packed a measly 125 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. How much things have changed in modern times, as the 6.4-liter engine here manages 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. That is tuned differently to the same engine that’s used in everything from the Dodge Challenger to the Ram Power Wagon, and it would be the beefiest Wrangler in production by far if they actually decide to build it. We are talking about FCA here, and they’ve green-lighted some of the most power-crazy vehicles in recent memory. On that basis, it’s fairly appropriate to refer to the Rubicon 392 as a “concept”. It hasn’t been officially green-lighted for production yet, but knowing the company’s other offerings, it’s likely just a matter of time.
Under the skin, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept has a few notable features beyond the engine. A set of Dana 44 axles, full-time two-speed transfer case, electric front and rear lockers and 3.73 gear ratio help retain the V8 Wrangler’s off-road capabilities. It also has 37-inch mud-terrain tires on 17-inch beadlock wheels and a Jeep Performance Parts two-inch lift kit. Thanks to the lift, the Rubicon 392 Concept also has 13.25 inches of ground clearance and 34 inches of water fording capability. Approach, breakover and departure angles stand at 51.6 degrees, 29.5 degrees and 40.1 degrees respectively. If that’s not enough, the V8-powered Wrangler concept has Rubicon rock rails and a steel belly pan. FCA says it’s also fitted a more robust eight-speed automatic transmission.
On the suspension front, Jeep fitted aluminum monotube Fox shocks for improved damping and heat dissipation. Engineers also modified the frame and fitted upgraded engine mounts thanks to the engine’s sheer size. But at least they’ve confirmed what many were wondering — Yes, you can fit a 392 Hemi in a Wrangler’s engine bay.
Custom touches over the standard Wrangler Rubicon
Inside, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is pretty much standard fare, but there are a few unique touches. The Red Rock-colored leather seats with gold stitching stand out from the black seats you’d get in a standard Rubicon. The performance hood obviously gives away the beast of an engine that’s lurking within, as does the performance steering wheel. Unlike the standard Wrangler, this concept also has custom half-doors with removable side panels, as well as the Sky One-Touch powertop. While it may be available in more colors if it reaches production, this particular Rubicon 392 Concept was finished in Granite Crystal paint.
Since FCA is classifying this as a concept for now, there’s no inclination of how pricing would look. The 6.4-liter Wrangler Rubicon 392 would certainly command a premium on the standard Rubicon, likely putting the starting price over $50,000. FCA also showed the V8 Wrangler in a four-door Unlimited configuration, so it’s not likely you’ll be able to get the Hemi version in two-door form. Again, though, take what you see here with a grain of salt. The company may tweak the recipe a bit when they put it into production, if they decide to build it at all.
Stay tuned for more updates!