2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Road Test Review | Pounding pavement the American way
Greater. Greater. More quickly. Volume up. Sure, but if there's a single word to describe the 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392, it's "more" - like more power, more speed, and probably a little more power. (More words too. Check out this name!). A 470 hp Jeep Wrangler might not be what the world needs, but for Jeep fans (of which I am one) this has taken a long time.
The Wrangler hasn't had a V8 since then. The latest generation of Jeep off-roaders with a V8 available was the CJ, which was older than the Wrangler nameplate. The current generation (JL) is the first time the Jeep Wrangler has been offered with more than one engine since the TJ retired after 2006. The last generation model (JK) was introduced with a 3.8 liter V6 (also known as the "minivan" engine) before becoming the 3.6 liter Pentastar (actually also a minivan engine ), but whatever V6 was available in a particular model year, that's what you got. No options.
With the JL, that changed dramatically. Now there are six: a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, the latest 3.6-liter Pentastar, an “eTorque” mild hybrid version of this V6, a 3.0-liter turbo diesel, the 4xe Plug-in hybrid system and this one - the 6.4-liter V8. Argue how you want about the exact powertrain hierarchy, but in the Jeep world, the 392 is considered by many to be the front runner. With that much power (and a matching 470 pound-feet of torque) it is certainly not a puppy and is tossed for a boat along with conventional parts. This is important for people who take their cars off public roads; Whether you prefer the walk or the route, a known crowd is a convenience.
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At first glance, the Rubicon 392 is just a top of the line Wrangler Unlimited with a V8 instead of the V6, but of course it's more complicated. Fitting this 6.4 liter model involved modifying a front cross member and shuffling around some other parts. One look at the engine compartment and you can easily imagine why: it sits right there. Check out the large built-in hood inlet while you have it open. It's functional!
The 392's amazing torque output (which the Pentastar is not known for, I assure you) required a higher gearbox and all-wheel drive system on all the time. Unlike most Wranglers, the 392 doesn't have a part-time all-wheel drive system that you'll appreciate the first time you overpower it on a wet road. Sending power to all four wheels under normal driving conditions also helps advance the 392 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and cover the quarter mile in 13 flat.
That brings us to the tires, which are pretty much standard Rubicon tariff as well. That's a good thing in terms of off-road capability, but it affects the 392's top speed. Most regular Rubicon buyers may not care that their rigs can't cross the 100 mile mark, but the 392 buyer could .
The 392's most subtle differences are on the outside, which may seem odd for a Jeep, but the Rubicon is already so crowded and infinitely dotted with burly bits that the "392" badge on the hood curve is easy to miss. Don't worry though. The performance exhaust ensures that you are heard long before you are seen. No other factory Wrangler sounds this good, and it's not even close.
That being said, it offers 10.3 inches of ground clearance (only half an inch less than the regular Rubicon) and an approach angle of 44.5 degrees, a take-off angle of 37.5 degrees, and a breakthrough of 22.6 degrees. These arrival and departure numbers are actually the best of the other Rubicon variants. According to Jeep, the 392 can also traverse up to 32.5 inches of water and benefits from a unique air intake system that can draw up to 15 gallons of water per minute away from the engine. It also has a secondary inlet in case the hood scoop gets clogged.
Now the bad news. For starters, the 392 is just automatic. So if you want to row your own behind a 6.4, the Dodge Challenger remains your only option. It's hard too, thanks to the Honkin iron block V8. At 5,100 pounds, it's also about as heavy as the battery-powered 4xe hybrid, and with the included 2-inch lift, that weight is heavy.
You will also feel everything behind the wheel. It's big, loose, and heavy. Believe it or not, Wranglers are not hopelessly clumsy vehicles. Do not get me wrong. If you're in a car remotely sporty and having trouble keeping up with a Wrangler driver on a winding road, start looking for driving lessons right away. Even so, the uninitiated would probably be surprised at how nimble a Wrangler can be - especially if you're talking about a two-door hatchback, but I digress.
The 392 only drives big and is therefore more difficult to position. While this didn't seem to be a problem in Jeep's controlled off-road scenario, I find it hard to believe that it would be completely irrelevant for things to get tight and pointed.
And while it basically still drives like a Wrangler, the added weight amplifies many of the quirks of its signature behavior on the road. It's not more prone to hiking, nor does it require more corrective action than a regular Rubicon, but you're more likely to notice them because there is simply more Jeep between you and the road.
The good news is that it does most of the things that make a Wrangler so fun and characterful on the street, even better than a regular Wrangler. It looks great, it sounds great, and it comes with multiple tops. So if you value those Jeep owned things, you are golden.
However, this is not just a Wrangler 392, but a Wrangler Rubicon 392 as well, and frankly I think this is a minor bug. If ever a Wrangler was built to parade roof-down around town on a sunny day, it will, and I wonder how many more owners will do with it. Oh sure, there will be people who are desperate to spin their nearly $ 80,000 toys, but I suspect they will be runaways. Feel free to prove me wrong. It is your wallet. Oh, and send us the videos.
But this thought process leads me to another inevitability: if we assume the 392 is a good idea for a Wrangler, it seems an even better one for a gladiator, where the power could be more practically used. What else do pickup buyers love more than a good, old-fashioned V8? It seems far more suitable for a high-speed off-roader such as the Gladiator Mojave.
The Rubicon 392 is a loud, boisterous example of fan service. It checks the Factory V8 Wrangler box, but it's no more than the sum of its parts. It's one of those things that seems to be out there, so I appreciate it, but with prices starting at over $ 75,000, it's more of an icon for the true believer than a must-have for the off-road enthusiast.
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