Jeep’s go-anywhere icon, the Wrangler, may be getting an update that could get the world’s most famous off-roader anywhere faster.
On the morning that Ford is reaching into its past to generate some buzz with the debut of the new Bronco – or herd of Broncos if reports are accurate – Jeep took a walk down memory lane and stuffed beefy V8 engine into a Wrangler, perhaps to steal a little bit of the spotlight from its crosstown rival with the new Wrangler Rubicon 292 concept.
This concept features a 6.4-liter, 392-cubic-inch snarling V8 – it’s first since the 1981 CJ was powered by a 5.0-liter V8 putting out just 125 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque – that produces 450 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque. This means rough and rugged also gets mean while it screams from zero to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.
“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 Brand – FCA North America.
“From the recently introduced 29-mpg Wrangler EcoDiesel to our award-winning Jeep Gladiator, and the upcoming Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, 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.”
While speed may kill, Jeep fans will return the favor if this “concept” comes to life and the company gives up off-road capability for racetrack competitiveness. Fortunately, engineers and designers seem to have that issue covered.
The concept gets Dana 44 axles, a full-time two-speed transfer case, electric front and rear axle lockers, 37-inch mud-terrain tires and a Jeep Performance Parts two-inch lift kit from Mopar combine with suspension enhancements, a more robust eight-speed transmission to go with the massive V-8 power plant. The result, according to the company, is likely to be the “ultimate fun-to-drive Jeep vehicle with more off-road capability than ever in a Jeep Wrangler.”
To ensure safety and performance walk hand-in-hand, the concept enjoys upgraded engine mounts and a modified frame. Suspension upgrades include new aluminum, monotube Fox shocks for improved damping and heat dissipation. A two-mode exhaust alters the performance sound at the touch of a button.
The off-road capability gets an upgrade too on the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept with third-gen Dana 44 axles, a Selec-Track full-time two-speed transfer case, Tru-Lok electric front- and rear-axle locking differentials and 37-inch mud-terrain tires that wrap around custom 17-inch beadlock wheels that hold the tires to the rims under extreme lateral loads, allowing for reduced tire pressure operation and added traction.
It also gets a Jeep Performance Parts two-inch lift kit courtesy of Mopar. The additional height lets the Rubicon 392 do more of what it does best: crawl over, around and under things by providing additional suspension articulation and improved approach, breakover and departure angles. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept also features Rubicon rock rails, steel bumpers with a Warn winch and a steel belly pan – all added to help navigate the toughest off-road terrains.
The aforementioned sturdier eight-speed automatic transmission and the full-time 4×4 transfer case combine to improve overall drivability. The concept generates “massive amounts” of low-end torque allow for a 3.73 gear ratio, which delivers improved highway efficiency and a greater range of off-road capability.
A new concept gets a new look as well with the Granite Crystal paint on the exterior and the tow hooks, badging, springs, shocks and wheels highlighted in Bronze. The Wrangler 392 also attracts attending with a heavy-duty raised performance hood, custom half doors and Wrangler’s Sky One-touch powertop, with removable side panels for complete open-air freedom. The exterior is offset inside with Red Rock-colored leather bolstered seats with gold stitching, along with a performance steering wheel.