For years, customers, media and enthusiasts have pressed the folks at Jeep to put a Hemi V8 into engine bay of the Wrangler. And, for years, there’s always been some kind of excuse. “It won’t fit.” Or, “it won’t pass crash testing.” Or, “it would make the Wrangler too nose heavy.” But as the old adage goes: some will seek excuses, while others will seek a way. It would appear that FCA has finally found a way, and it arrives in the form of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 392. A JL Wrangler Rubicon 4-door that punches out 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque courtesy of a 6.4L Apache Hemi V8 engine that can be taken across rugged landscapes that would make lesser vehicles quiver with fear.
The Jeep Wrangler 392 will arrive in dealerships in Spring 2021 – just around the corner. However, production volume is said to be limited. We hope to soon learn what that means.
As seen in vehicles such as the Dodge Charger and Challenger, as well as its fellow Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, the 6.4L Hemi V8 engine in the JL Wrangler 392 is comprised of a iron block, aluminum heads, an active intake manifold, variable cam timing, twin spark plugs, and sodium-filled exhaust valves. In this application, the big Hemi punches out 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque to the crankshaft, with 75 percent of the torque available just above idle speed. Specifically for the Wrangler, the engine is set up with rear sump oil pan, high-mount alternator, and cylinder deactivation. That power is then through a ZF-sourced TorqueFlite 8HP75 eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels, by way of a two-speed active transfer case. The T-case features a 2.72:1 low-range gear ratio, set to run in either 4WD auto, 4WD high, neutral, and 4WD low drive modes. A manual transmission is unavailable at this time, but paddle shifters are present.
To make this Hemi V8 upgrade road worthy, Jeep engineers upgraded the frame rails and upper control arms for the Wrangler 392, while also applying cast iron steering knuckles from the Gladiator Mojave in place of the aluminum units on lesser Wranglers. A set of heavy-duty brakes that could handle the extra heft of the Hemi were also called into service to help the lifted Jeep scrub off as much speed as possible.
The engine of the Jeep Wrangler 392 also features an innovation called Torque Reserve, which variably adjusts fuel and spark to help maximize launches of the line, and another feature called “AMax” which reduces throttle cut during full-gas upshifts, which further helps with acceleration. For optimal airflow, the Hemi Jeep features the same hood scoop as seen on the Jeep Gladiator Mojave, while a system branded as Hydro-Guide helps separate air and water before it reaches the engine, at a rate of up to 15 gallons per minute. Overall, the Hemi-powered Jeep Wrangler 392 goes 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, which is a full 45 percent faster than V6-powered models. Its quarter mile time is rated at a respectable 13 seconds, and it could probably be even faster if the top speed wasn’t limited to just 99 mph. The 33-inch BF Goodrich KO2 tires aren’t rated to go any faster. But then again, with that solid front axle, it’s probably for the best.
That said, the primary directive of any Wrangler isn’t what it can do on the road. It’s what it can do off the road.
Water fording is rated at 32.5 inches deep. To put it another way, nearly three feet. Approach, breakover, and departure angles come in at 44.5, 22.6, and 37.5 degrees, respectively. These are actually half-degree improvements on approach and departure angles over four-door Wrangler Rubicons with a lower cylinder count. This is also thanks to the two-inch suspension lift complete with Fox Shocks. Though ground clearance decreases to 10.3 inches from 10.8 inches, largely because of the lower skid plate protecting the new Hemi V8 exhaust.
Jeep enthusiasts may be quick to point out that the 4:1 low ratio found on lesser-powered Rubicons is not offered on the 392, but this is because the Wrangler 392 actually delivers more torque to the wheels with the 2.72:1 case than the 3.6L Pentastar V6 can deliver with its 4:1 gearing. The Hemi Jeep also features special torque converter lockup feature that gives drivers a more direct sensation to the tires, allowing that 48:1 crawl ratio to be utilized with more precision and control.
From there, the hardware found in other Jeep Wrangler Rubicon models is present and accounted for. Such as the heavy-duty Dana 44 axles (with 10-mm-thick axle tubes), electronic locking diffs, and an electronic front sway-bar disconnect.
If the big hood scoop wasn’t enough to distinguish the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 from its little brothers and sisters, the exterior also features unique bronze accents, twin-tip dual exhaust pipes, and wider openings of the seven-slot grille for maximum airflow. The interior then features thicker bolsters on the seats, while the premium fitments of the Wrangler Rubicon are otherwise present and accounted for.
At launch, the limited-run 2021 Jeep Wrangler 392 will come in nine hues: Black, Bright White, Firecracker Red, Granite Crystal Metallic, Punk ‘n Metallic, Sarge Green Metallic, Snazzberry Metallic, Sting-Gray Metallic, and Billet Silver Metallic. The Hydro Blue Wrangler 392 pictured will arrive a little later.
After purchasing the Wrangler Rubicon 392, customers can shop from the comprehensive Mopar portfolio of Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 products, which will feature Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) for the ultimate off-road adventure, including LED off-road lights, Rubicon winch, Ultimate Dana 44 Advantek front axle with gear ratios available up to 5.38, new off-road beadlock-capable wheels suitable for larger tires, tube doors, off-road bumpers, rock rails and more.
Finally, the price of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 392 remains undisclosed at this time. But considering that range-topping Rubicons and Ford Broncos can encroach on $60,000 with options and accessories, we can only speculate that this limited-run Hemi Jeep will land somewhere around that number.
Maybe Ford should take another look at fitting a V8 engine into the Bronco. It wouldn’t hurt.