2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 V-8 First Drive: Bronco Who?

3 April 2021

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 V-8 First Drive: Bronco Who?
The long-awaited factory V-8 Wrangler (at least for now) drowns out Ford’s contender.
If we told you there’s a new vehicle on the block with an output of 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque from a 392-cubic-inch V-8, a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 13 seconds, and that it’s an all-wheel-drive convertible, would you guess we’re talking about a Jeep Wrangler? Maybe—if we also told you the doors come off, the windshield folds down, and it still has a crawl ratio of 48:1. Meet the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392.

What Even Is The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 392? 

After years of customer requests, the wait is over and Jeep has finally put a factory V-8 in the Wrangler for the first time, and, boy, is this one worth the wait. But before we get into driving details, we should tell you what the 392’s engineering team went through to shoehorn the V-8 into the Wrangler’s narrow engine compartment, which typically carries a V-6 or a four-cylinder.

With the same 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 and 8HP75 eight-speed automatic transmission that grace the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, the Wrangler 392 faces packaging challenges its larger sibling doesn’t, and that necessitates a few key changes. A redesigned front accessory drive sees the alternator move to the top of the engine, while the oil-filter mount had to be adapted to clear the front axle’s travel. New cast-iron exhaust manifolds are tucked tight to the engine, and a rear sump oil pan is fitted. The cooling module has been moved forward 20 millimeters to better manage heat, and the regular Wrangler’s 600-watt fan is now an 850-watt unit. The 392 also uses the Jeep Gladiator‘s higher-flowing grille.

The Wrangler 392 Is A Tough Customer

In addition to the drivetrain changes, the 392 also benefits from an upgraded and reinforced frame with strategically placed stiffeners. The front frame crossmember is reshaped to clear the crank pulley and the engine mounts are also stiffer. Because the V-8 engine is so tall, Jeep increased the suspension height by another inch over the Rubicon to clear the engine. 

To retain proper suspension geometry for ride and handling, the rear suspension mounts are relocated, now one inch lower for the lower arm and one inch higher for the upper. Despite boasting the tallest lift in the Wrangler portfolio, jounce travel is restricted by two inches, clearing the engine and giving the 392 the same effective jounce travel as the Wrangler EcoDiesel. 

Other handling improvements come by the way of a front spring-rate increase of 10 percent, while the rear spring rate drops by 20 percent. A stiffer rear anti-roll bar helps to balance the changes and makes for a chassis that feels more planted. The Rubicon’s Tenneco monotube shocks are replaced with non-reservoir, aluminum-bodied 2.0 Fox monotube shocks. 

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