An off-road-focused SUV debuted today … and it wasn’t the 2021 Ford Bronco. At least, not yet. Instead, Jeep stole some of the Bronco’s thunder by showing off a V-8-powered Wrangler concept, dubbed the Rubicon 392 Concept. While Jeep is calling the Rubicon 392 a concept, there are signs we may finally get a V-8 Wrangler, though not necessarily the Hellcat-powered one that has thus far eluded us.
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That’s not to say you can’t get a Hellcat-powered Jeep — for a bit more than $200,000, Hennessey Performance will gladly build you a Maximus 1000, a Jeep Gladiator with a 1,000-horsepower version of the Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. Jeep, however, has resisted putting the 392 or Hellcat V-8s into production versions of the Wrangler or Gladiator because of concerns about crash safety and such a vehicle’s ability to pass crash tests, instead limiting V-8 applications to one-off concepts. That may not be the case anymore, however.
“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 Jim Morrison, head of Jeep. According to the brand, the Rubicon 392 has upgraded engine mounts and frame modifications to accommodate the big V-8 and a more-robust eight-speed automatic transmission. That doesn’t sound like a one-off to us.
In addition to the 6.4-liter 392 V-8 — good for 450 hp and 450 pounds-feet of torque in this application, down from 485 hp and 475 pounds-feet in the 6.4-liter Dodge Challenger and Charger — the Rubicon 392 has been lifted 2 inches. It also uses enhanced suspension components, including new Fox monotube shocks, and has a two-mode exhaust system. Finally, it rides on 37-inch mud-terrain tires wrapped around custom 17-inch beadlock wheels. Despite the off-road tires and boxy profile, Jeep says the Rubicon 392 can do the 0-60-mph sprint in “less than five seconds.”
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Does the Rubicon 392 herald the coming of a V-8 to the Wrangler and probably the Gladiator, too? Is this just a one-off concept designed to steal some of the headlines away from Ford ahead of the Bronco’s long-awaited debut? We’ll have to wait and see to be sure, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jeep turn this into a production vehicle.
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