Jeep hasn’t offered a CJ/Wrangler with a V8 engine for almost three decades, but that may change following the release of the ‘Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept’.
Unveiled on 13 July, the 392 Concept is powered by FCA’s 6.4-litre (392 cubic inch) V8 engine, which in this application produces 335kW (450hp) and 610Nm (450lb/ft), with a claimed 0-97km/h (0-60mph) time of less than five seconds.
Compare that to the last factory V8 Jeep on the CJ platform, from 1981, that offered just 93.2kW (125hp) and 298Nm (220lb/ft) from a 5.0-litre V8 strangled by anti-pollution gear.
“Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts have been asking us for a Wrangler V8 and our new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept proves that we have the ability to make that happen,” said Jim Morrison, Head of Jeep Brand – FCA North America.
“Jeep is clearly listening to its customers. We are anxious to gauge their reaction to this new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, a vehicle that delivers an incredible and unmatched level of fun-to-drive performance and capability, on- and off-road.”
Power, Strength, Durability
The 6.4-litre engine in the concept is matched to a two-mode exhaust (that alters the performance sound at the touch of a button) and a strengthened eight-speed automatic transmission, with the Wrangler’s frame and engine mounts modified and upgraded to suit the addition of the V8.
Suspension has been upgraded, too, with new aluminium monotube Fox shocks fitted for improved damping and heat dissipation, while a Jeep Performance Parts 2.0-inch lift kit improves the concept’s ground clearance to 33.6cm, enhances the approach, departure and breakover angles to 51.6, 40.1 and 29.5 degrees, respectively, and improves wading depth to 86.3cm.
Familiar Wrangler components on the concept include the Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case and 3.73 diff ratio, Dana 44 axles front and rear, Tru-Lok electric front and rear diff locks, a bumper-mounted Warn winch, 17-inch beadlock wheels and 37-inch Mud Terrain tyres.
Improving durability, the concept also features Rubicon rock rails, steel bumpers and a steel underbody skid plate.
All these features, Jeep says, allow the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept to retain the production Wrangler Rubicon’s Trail Rated status.
The concept is finished in Granite Crystal, which is an already-available Wrangler colour, but this has been enhanced with Bronze detailing for the tow hooks, badging, springs, shocks and wheels.
Unique touches include custom half doors and what Jeep calls a “heavy-duty” performance bonnet with a functional air scoop that carries ‘392’ callouts on the sides.
For open air driving, the Wrangler’s ‘Sky One-Touch’ power folding fabric hood is incorporated, with removable side panels included.
Completing the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept’s fitout are bolstered sports seats trimmed in Red Rock leather with gold stitching, and a performance steering wheel.
Concept to Reality?
Jeep chose the same date as the new Ford Bronco’s release to unveil the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, no doubt to remind the market that they have the heritage when it comes to off-road capability and performance.
While the concept is considered likely to become a production reality for the North American market, expansion to overseas markets is less certain.
It’s almost certain a V8 Jeep Wrangler won’t go to European markets due to stronger emission regulations there, but release to Australia is possible.
The Wrangler is currently only available with the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine and 2.2-litre MultiJet turbodiesel locally, but given the local appetite for a bent eight is still strong (the V8-engined Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, S-Limited and SRT have found Australian buyers), Jeep could certainly sell a V8 Wrangler if they decided to offer it here.