Ford is coming after the Jeep Wrangler with the new 2021 Ford Bronco. (Here are the details as to how you can watch the reveal, which is going down tonight at 8pm EDT). Reports claim it will offer some off-road tricks the Wrangler doesn’t have, including a manual low-speed crawl gear and an off-road turn assist feature.
But Jeep is not letting Ford's off-road product launch go unanswered. On Monday, hours before the Bronco's debut, Jeep delivered an epic shot across Ford’s bow: the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept.
“392” in cubic inches equals 6.4 liters; in other words, this is a Wrangler packing Chrysler’s 6.4-liter Hemi V8 — the same engine found in the Grand Cherokee SRT, the Dodger Charger and the Dodge Challenger. In the Wrangler, Jeep says it will produce 450 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, and push the Wrangler from 0-60 mph in less than five seconds. Jeep says it has a “robust eight-speed transmission,” which is presumably an automatic.
It’s also the Rubicon 392, so this Wrangler is optimized for off-road capability. Indeed, it packs features beyond those even of the current fully-loaded Rubicon trim. A two-inch suspension lift and 37-inch mud-terrain tires give the Rubicon 392 13.25 inches of ground clearance; it will be able to ford through 34 inches of water and have improved approach (51.6 degrees), breakover (29.5 degrees) and departure (40.1 degrees) angles.
Jeep doesn’t mention whether or when a production Rubicon 392 would go into production, but a line in Jeep's press release bodes well for it: "Jeep enthusiasts have been clamoring for a V-8-powered production Wrangler in recent years and the new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is an indication they may soon get their wish.”
Should it happen, it would be the first time in nearly 40 years a Wrangler or its predecessors has had a V8. (The last time was the CJ in 1981.)
Besides the spectacular timing for this announcement, it should also be welcome news for Wrangler enthusiasts. One of the only weaknesses of the current generation is that the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 is nothing special. Getting an upgraded V8 option (to pair with the EcoDiesel and upcoming hybrid versions) should resolve that issue.