Jeep fans get their wish with V-8 Wrangler

Industry

Jeep is adding more power and capability to the Wrangler, addressing a top wish of customers and dealers, and just in time as the SUV prepares to take on the new Ford Bronco.

The Wrangler Rubicon 392 packs a V-8 engine (392 cubic inches) that will deliver 470 hp and 470 pound-feet of torque, while jetting from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. That is 40 percent faster than the V-6 Wrangler Rubicon.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it’s the first time in 40 years that a V-8 has been a factory option on the Wrangler. The Wrangler’s predecessor, the CJ, was the last to have a V-8, in 1981. That model, FCA said, delivered 125 hp and 220 pound-feet of torque.

The Wrangler Rubicon 392 checks off another box on the Jeep fan wish list, joining the diesel Wrangler, the Gladiator pickup and the upscale Grand Wagoneer that’ll bolster the lineup next summer, said Scott Tallon, head of Jeep product marketing, even as the brand charts a greener future.

The Wrangler Rubicon 392 will hit dealerships in the first quarter of 2021, right in time for the Bronco’s spring debut. Jeep began teasing a 392 concept in July. Pricing will be released closer to the sales launch.

Tallon said the V-8-powered Wrangler isn’t a direct response to the Bronco, which won’t have that option when it debuts.

Customers have “been asking for this for years,” Tallon said. “That’s really what’s helped propel the Jeep brand over the last eight decades. Listen to your customers. It’s amazing what they can help and then drive in terms of success.

“Quite frankly, this has been under development for a really long time, before we really knew anything about the Bronco,” Tallon added. “It’s just something we knew was the next evolution for capability in Wrangler.”

The Rubicon 392 will be produced as a four-door model only. Half-doors are available to give occupants more of an open-air feel.

The exterior features a heavy-duty raised performance hood. FCA said the grille design delivers greater airflow and cooling of the engine.

A secondary air path within the hood structure cools the engine in case the hood scoop becomes restricted by snow, mud or debris. This allows the vehicle to achieve top speed “even with a fully blocked primary air path.”

The model comes with upgraded frame rails in addition to heavy-duty brakes, Fox high-performance shocks that enable improved off-road performance and 33-inch tires. The Rubicon 392 has a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Off-Road Plus drive mode, the company said, allows drivers to lock the rear axle at high speeds while in the 4 High gear.

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