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The 470-HP Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 Is Completely Bonkers

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

Nothing seems off the table at Jeep, Dodge and Ram: Hellcat engine in a truck? Sure. How about an 800-horsepower sedan? Yeah, go for it. What about a 470-hp Jeep Wrangler? It’ll be sketchy as hell and sound like a Top Fuel dragster, but: Done! I thought the Wrangler was already on the verge of too much power when Jeep introduced the 6,400-rpm, 285-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 for 2012, but then came the 2021 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 with a 470-hp V-8. After driving one, it’s as completely bonkers as it sounds.

Related: 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392: Jeep’s Really Building Another V-8 Wrangler

Wrangler + 185 HP = Crazy

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 engine 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 engine | Cars.com photo by Joe Bruzek

There’s a lot of SRT in the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392. The powertrain doesn’t feel numbed or significantly changed from what you get in a Dodge Challenger, Charger or Jeep Grand Cherokee with the same 6.4-liter. The engine and transmission have similar, snappy shift logic as the street-oriented versions, where the slightest throttle input dumps the transmission into a lower gear, letting the Wrangler rip and snort away from cruising speeds to crazy speeds in very little time. Jeep says the Rubicon 392 can do 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.0 seconds, which is barely slower than the Grand Cherokee SRT’s 4.3 and 12.8 seconds, respectively.

Where there’s a noticeable difference is that it’s in a freaking Wrangler. The booming exhaust with its button-activated loud mode penetrates the Wrangler’s thin, removable roof and doors like nothing’s there. It’s like standing on a racetrack’s sidelines listening to an SRT blast by, but you’re actually inside the car. We normally whine about how loud the Wrangler is on the highway with plenty of wind and road noise, but this replaces the wind whistle and road grumble with the drone and howl of a 6.4-liter V-8 — not a bad trade-off.

On- and Off-Road Driving

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 | Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

It’s still a Wrangler with the requisite off-road equipment, however — this isn’t a performance-oriented street car by any means. It has a 2-inch lift, Fox monotube shocks, 33-inch-tall tires, a 3.73 axle versus 4.10 for the regular Rubicon, and changes to accommodate the V-8 that include strengthened front frame rails, upper control arms and cast-iron steering knuckles. An off-road test will hopefully come later, but for this quick spin, I tooled around suburban streets and gravel roads.

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The V-8 hasn’t changed any of the Wrangler’s other “unique” street driving characteristics — the steering is still light and the SUV still wanders at highway speeds. It’s exaggerated quite a lot during acceleration as the Wrangler squats and scoots, meaning it’s a handful to hang onto. 

In general, high-horsepower cars have become more and more refined to where you can drive around a 717-hp Charger Hellcat and not feel like there’s much under the hood. But in the Wrangler, you feel every bit of power through your white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel and the constant corrections needed to keep the nose pointed straight during a rip. From a stop, goosing the engine up against the brakes before letting go spins the rear tires briefly before the fronts grab as the Jeep angrily barks through gear changes.

At highway speeds, the Rubicon 392 actually felt more settled than other recent Wranglers I’ve driven. At 5,103 pounds, the V-8 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon is considerably heavier than the V-6 Rubicon Unlimited’s 4,449 pound curb weight, so perhaps the extra weight or unique suspension have smoothed out some of the Wrangler’s highway roughness.

Wrangler V-8 Pricing

If that sounds like fun — and, trust me, it is — the cost of entry for the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 is a whopping $74,995 with destination charge, or some $30,000 more than the starting price of a V-6-powered Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. My test Rubicon 392 also had a few thousand dollars in options tallying up to a total of $78,545.

Is It Worth It? 

Placing a value component on this rig is tough. When I was driving around, I was reminded of how many Wranglers Jeep actually sells because I saw one at nearly every stoplight. This is no niche car anymore as it approaches the top 15 in sales around cars like the Honda Accord and Ford Escape. Perhaps it was a bratty move, but the throttle may have slipped a few times driving past other Wranglers with the V-8’s exhaust cracked open. Is that showboating worth an extra $30,000? Who knows, but one thing I can say for sure is that there’s nothing else like the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 in any other factory showroom.    

Related Video: 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe: First Look

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