Some of the highest-performing vehicles being offered lately are 4-by-4 trucks — and Jeeps, including this V-8-powered Wrangler 392.
They are quicker than almost all high-performance cars and can do things no high-performance car can such as crawl over a boulder and ford through nearly three feet of water.
In addition to the 392 cubic inch V-8 under its hood, this Jeep also has a few other tricks up its sleeve.
What It Is
Whether two- or four-door, the Wrangler is one of the most recognizable vehicles on and off the road. Not just because they’ve been making them for decades but because the basic shape hasn’t changed much in decades.
But the goods have.
For the first time in 40-something years, the Wrangler is available with a V-8 — one proudly called out by cubic inches instead of liters, even though 6.4 liters (and 470 horsepower) is pretty impressive, regardless.
Also, the ability to get to 60 in 4.5 seconds makes this Wrangler one of the quickest things on road, regardless of looks.
It also has everything the Wrangler Rubicon has: a two-inch lift over the standard Wrangler, heavier-duty frame rails, decoupling front swaybar, front and rear Dana 44 axles, locking differentials, beadlock-capable wheels, Fox off-road shocks, unique suspension geometry for off-road work, 33-inch A/T tires, plus a functional hood scoop with a Hydro diverter to keep water out of the engine when rooster-tailing through creeks and an “active” exhaust system that lets you open up the V-8’s pipes at the touch of a button.
But because it does come with literally almost everything the top-of-the-line Rubicon has, plus that big V-8 and related peripherals, it also comes with a price to match — $73,500. Which is more than twice the base price of a standard Wrangler ($28,900).
But then, some things are priceless.
In addition to the newly available V-8 — Rubicon trims only — other Wrangler trims can be equipped with a forward-facing trail camera that lets you see where your wheels are about to go without you having to get out and look.
It goes very fast on-road.
It goes almost anywhere off-road.
It has a big gas tank (21.5 gallons), which equals fewer fill-ups.
What’s Not So Good
The big V-8 is only available with four-door Rubicons.
There’s no manual transmission option (it’s available in lesser-engined Wranglers).
Even with that big tank, you run dry fast.
Under the Hood
The Jeep’s engine is essentially the same engine that powers the Scat Pack 392 version of the Dodge Charger/Challenger. It is specifically modified for Wrangler duty, with a rearset sump, high-mounted alternator (to avoid water) and a unique exhaust system that can be “opened up” by pushing a button.
An eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive with high- and low-range gearing are part of the package.
On the Road
This Jeep has more power — and outperforms — the V-12 Ferraris that were available the last time Jeep put a V-8 in a Wrangler. And this V-8 doesn’t use appreciably more fuel than the 125 horsepower 304 V-8 that was available in Wranglers some 40 years ago.
While producing nearly four times as much horsepower.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
On — or off — the road.
The 392 comes with a larger 21.5-gallon tank than the standard Wrangler, which gives it a potential 400-mile radius of action on a full one. But that assumes you drive it like someone who cares about gas mileage, which is an expectation as ludicrous as expecting your teenage kid to not drink any beer at the keg party his friends are throwing.
At the Curb
As always, you can take off the doors — or install the half-doors available over-the-counter at Jeep stores. Fold the windshield forward, and take off (or roll back) the top, and leave the sides on (SkyOne).
If you felt at home in a ’78 CJ, you’ll feel at home here, too.
There are, of course, a number of features that weren’t conceivable back in ’78 — including the 8.4-inch UConnect LCD touch screen in the center stack that has Wrangler Rubicon-specific Off-Road pages that digitally display yaw and pitch and forward and rear closed-circuit Trailcam views of your exterior perimeter — so you can crawl around off-road without having to leave your seat to know where your tires are about to go.
This Wrangler has some indirect competition in the form of the just-revived Ford Bronco. But that one, though also capable, is very much unlike its namesake.
There’s no V-8, which is something that defined the original Bronco. And its twice-turbocharged 2.7-liter V-6 is only half the engine — and only makes about half the horsepower of the Jeep’s 392.
It’s true that there’s a Raptor (or Warthog) version of the Bronco pending, but no matter how much horsepower they get that little V-6 to make, it’ll never be a Bronco in the way that this Wrangler remains a Jeep .
The Bottom Line
Drop the windshield, peel back the roof, lose the doors — and lose anyone trying to follow you.
(SET IMAGE) epe052521adAP.jpg (END IMAGE) (SET CAPTION) View the Wrangler 392 this week. (END CAPTION)
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Last Updated: Monday, May 24, 2021 13:25:20 -0700