Fiat Chrysler’s current performance car strategy (slot a big V8 engine into everything) has reached the Jeep Wrangler.
The result? You’re looking at it. Meet the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, the first V8-powered Wrangler since 1981 and a firm middle finger to the Ford Bronco with its turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine.
First up, the engine. It’s a 6.4-litre naturally-aspirated V8 pumping out 350kW of power and 637Nm of torque, good for a 60mph (97km/h) sprint of just 4.5 seconds and a 13.0-second quarter mile.
For comparison, the 2.7-litre EcoBoost Nano in the Ford Bronco makes 231kW and 540Nm.
Unfortunately, the Wrangler won’t be available in Australia at launch – but Jeep wants it.
Jeep says the engine has been tuned specifically for life in the Rubicon 392, with almost 75 per cent of peak torque on tap just above idle for effortless rock crawling and off-roading.
The functional intake sitting proud of the bonnet isn’t the only clever tech on hand to help the engine breathe easy. There’s a tri-level ducting system to make to keep water away from places your really don’t want it, for a claimed maximum wading depth of 825mm.
Jeep says the Rubicon 392 will forge on even if a bow wave pushes across the bonnet. It’ll even deliver peak performance when that giant bonnet scoop is blocked, apparently.
The noise is arguably more important than straight line performance, which is why there’s a switchable active exhaust and quad pipes standard.
Power is put to the (off-)road through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddles and a Selec-Trac four-wheel drive system.
Although it’s the most drag-capable Wrangler ever, the Rubicon 392 shouldn’t make too many sacrifices off the beaten path. It’s still Trail Rated, and the standard four-wheel drive system packs an active transfer case with a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio.
Along with 4-High, 4-Low, and 4-Auto modes, there are dedicated drive modes for rock, sand, crawling, and situations where the axles are locked.
Under the skin is a strengthened ladder frame, along with new front upper control arms and steering knuckles. There are bigger brakes, as you’d expect.
Jeep has fitted a 2.0-inch (5cm) lift kit, backed by unique Fox shock absorbers. The basic suspension setup is otherwise unchanged compared to the regular Wrangler.
Separating the Wrangler Rubicon 392 from its less powerful stablemates are bronze badges, wheels, and tow hooks, along with its taller bonnet and air intake.
Inside, there’s an 8.4-inch infotainment screen with smartphone mirroring and factory satellite navigation, along with a full range of off-road pages.
The seats are trimmed in leather, and there are premium additions including an auxiliary switch bank, a body-coloured hard top and flares, a steel bumper, LED lighting, keyless entry and start, and the full suite of safety assists available on the North American Wrangler.
As with any Wrangler, there’s a full catalogue of Mopar accessories on offer for the Rubicon 392.