Up close with the new Jeep Wrangler V8

Wrangler gets a long -awaited factory V8 engine, but it’s not for Australians.

Jeep V 8 1 Jpg

Jeep has pulled the wraps off its first V8-powered ‘traditional' Jeep in almost 40 years, with the unveiling of the 2021 Wrangler Rubicon 392.

Before you head on down to your local dealer to orders yours, cool your heels, as the Wrangler 392 will be made in left-hand drive only so it’s not coming to Australia.

“At this stage, the Rubicon 392 is going to be produced in LHD only," said a Jeep Australia spokesperson.

However, the door hasn't shut completely.

"With that said, we know how much Australians love their V8s, so if that changes we’ll be the first to put our hand up,” teased the spokesperson.

FCA remains the only manufacturer to offer non-premium V8-powered passenger cars in Australia, with the Chrysler 300C sedan and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV still available with V8 power.

Interestingly, those power plants form the basis of the same 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine as found in the Rubicon 392.

This isn’t the first time FCA has denied Australians what would be a desirable powertrain in their Jeeps.

The recently released 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that is available in the JL Wrangler and JT Gladiator pick-up in the USA is also left-hook only, and not for us Aussies.

This is the first time Jeep has fitted a V8 engine to a Wrangler and the first time to a ‘Traditional Jeep’ since the last of the CJ7 models in the early 1980s.

We can expect the V8 Hemi engine will also find its way into the JT Gladiator at some time in the future, although that is unconfirmed.

Jeep Rubicon 392 V8 in detail

Jeep officially calls the V8 JL Wrangler the Rubicon 392, but it doesn’t come with all the hardware we expect in the Rubicon models.

Yes, it has locking Dana 44 differentials front and rear and the disconnecting front sway bar, but the V8 and eight-speed auto transmission are backed by the full-time Selec-Trac transfer case with 2.7:1 low range gears in lieu of the 4.1:1 equipped Rock-Trac usually found in Rubicons.

The final drive ratio in the 392 is 3.73:1 instead of 4.1:1, giving the Rubicon 392 a 48:1 crawl ratio.

That higher gearing might have something to do with the 392’s output, with some 350kW and 637Nm going to the wheels.

These numbers are the same as that found in the 300C SRT sedan, suggesting the Wrangler’s V8 is the same tune as found in the Chrysler.

Jeep claims the Wrangler Rubicon 392 will cover the zero to 100km/h dash in 4.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.0 seconds. 

This a wicked wagon when you consider it still has excellent off-road capabilities.

In fitting the V8 engine within the Wrangler frame Jeep has beefed up the chassis rails to give them more strength and equipped the 392 with a ‘factory’ 50mm suspension lift using Fox shock absorbers.

The beadlock-capable alloy wheels are fitted with 33-inch off-road tyres, giving the 392 approach, breakover and departure angles of 44.5, 22.6 and 37.5 degrees respectively, and the ability to traverse up to 825.5mm of water.

A model-specific Hydro-Guide air intake system includes a tri-level ducting system that separates water – up to 57 litres per minute – away from the engine’s incoming air, while a functional bonnet vent feeds the V8 engine’s intake.

Of course, the Rubicon 392 is equipped with plenty of model-specific trims and features to clearly identify it as the V8 model, and there is a huge range of Mopar accessories available for it.

Unfortunately, don’t expect to be seeing it on Australian tracks any time soon. We’ll just continue to rely on aftermarket V8 engine conversions.


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