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Jeep Teases 392ci V-8-Powered Wrangler Rubicon JL Concept

Jeep owners clamoring for a V-8-powered Wrangler just might get their wish.

Sean P. HolmanWriterJeepPhotographer

The competition may be heating up, but Jeep isn't ceding anything to those other guys across town. Today Jeep revealed the Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept, based on the idea of what a factory V-8-powered Wrangler could look like.

Believe it or not, Jeep has never offered a Wrangler with a V-8 from the factory. Ever since the Wrangler was launched with the YJ generation as a 1987 model, power-hungry enthusiasts have taken matters into their own hands, swapping all sorts of V-8s into their Wranglers. The last time Jeep's famous utility vehicle was available with a factory installed V-8 was in the 1981 CJ line. That vehicle had a 304ci pushrod V-8 that made 125 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque.

The Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept shown here, on the other hand, is stuffed with a 6.4L Hemi V-8 rated at 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque and sits on strengthened engine mounts. Power is routed through an upgraded eight-speed automatic transmission, stout third-generation Dana 44 axles featuring Tru-Lok electronically locking differentials, and 3.73 gears to temper the V-8's thick and broad torque curve. Despite wearing 37-inch Falken Wildpeak MT01 tires, a sprint from 0-60 takes less than five seconds.

To get that level of performance, the 392 Concept's frame has been modified and uses a Selec-Track two-speed, full-time four-wheel drive transfer case. In addition to the obvious performance enhancement of the V-8, potential Wrangler 392 owners can take advantage of the SRT-inspired two-mode exhaust that alters the Hemi's sound profile at the push of a button.

Jeep assures us that none of the Trail Rated goodness you have come to expect from the Wrangler lineup has been compromised. A Jeep Performance Parts 2-inch lift kit from Mopar uses aluminum monotube Fox shocks for improved damping performance and enhanced thermal management, while improving wheel travel and articulation. Custom 17-inch bead lock wheels allow for lower tire pressures and improve traction. The 392 Concept is also fully protected by Rubicon rock rails, steel bumpers with a Warn winch, and a steel belly pan.

Thanks to the taller tires and ride height, approach (51.6 degrees), breakover (29.5 degrees), departure angles (40.1 degrees), as well as ground clearance (13.25-inches) have all been improved appreciably over stock. Water fording also increases from 31 inches to 34 inches.

To ensure every bit of that V-8 goodness underhood doesn't go unnoticed, the 392 Concept has a unique look that will undoubtedly turn heads, even when that big V-8 isn't rumbling. The special color scheme takes a Granite Crystal Metallic exterior with bronze-colored accents on the tow hooks, springs, shocks, wheels, and badging and mixes it with an interior done up in Red Rock leather seats and gold contrast stitching.

The raised performance hood partners with Jeep's Sky One-Touch power top and the long-anticipated half doors (sans the holes we originally saw them sporting at the JL launch) and looks pretty damn awesome doing it. Notably, the rear glass of the power top has been removed, a feature we've been requesting since our first experience with the premium top. Drivers will be able to wrestle those 392 Concept's impulsive side machinations with a performance steering wheel, donated by the Gladiator Mojave.

Whether or not the 392 Concept makes it production hasn't been announced officially yet, but one sentence from Jeep' s press release was awfully telling: "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."

Stay tuned for our first look at the production V-8 Wrangler later this year and don't be surprised if it has even more to offer than what is being teased here.