Well, you just knew the mad scientists at Stellantis had this up their sleeve. First came the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Then the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat family sedan. Followed by the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk family SUV.
Now doff your cap to the earth-shaking 470-horsepower Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 off-road vehicle stuffed with the same 392-cubic-inch V-8 found in the Dodge Challenger Scat Pack, for goodness sake. The forest will never be the same.
I took the juiced Wrangler to Holly Oaks ORV Park in Holly, Mich., and made the trees shake. The ground quake. The rocks crumble. After I hurtled around the dirt track at obtuse angles, Joey Logano approached me and asked if he could enter the Wrangler in next year’s NASCAR Bristol dirt race.
Jeep’s compact SUV is insane. My only question is: was the alphanumeric 392 badge the best marketing could come up with?
How about Beast? Hulk? Was Hellboy taken?
After all, Jeep executives have made clear they don’t have room to fit the supercharged 700-plus horsepower Hellcat engine in the Wrangler without compromising crumple safety zones — so this is the highest-flying V-8-powered Wrangler we’re going to get. Heck, at $74,995 it actually costs more than a Challenger Hellcat. If an alphanumeric badge it must be, how about 666?
The Wrangler Rubicon 392 is a treat from the moment you push the Start button on the dash.
BRAAAPP! The 6.4-liter V-8 roars to life like someone stuck the Kraken with a hot poker (was Kraken taken?). Unlike its sedan and SUV peers, the Wrangler is wonderfully uninsulated due to its removable doors and roof, so the sounds wash over you like a wave.
Anyone who thinks we’ll only be driving electric cars in the future hasn’t heard this pure sound. My Jeep friend Joe instantly fell in love. When his kids turn 16, they’ll get his V-6-powered Rubicon. Dad’s getting the 392.
Hustling up I-75 to Holly Oaks, it’s impossible to resist jumping on the throttle over 3,000 RPM. The soft suspension throws the Wangler’s head back. The huge 33-inch tires churn. Eight cylinders sound like jackhammers in the asphalt.
Naturally, Jeep dressed the 392 in full Rubicon off-road battle dress so that you could enjoy all the amenities the King of Off-road has to offer. The Jeep faithful will strip off the doors and peel back the roof to get even closer to the V-8 roar. If we had done that on this sun-soaked Saturday morning — a day after heavy rains in southeast Michigan — we would have been caked with mud from head to toe. We left the doors on.
A red Wrangler Rubicon is a beautiful canvas to paint with mud. Now that’s landscape art.
When not destroying sports cars out of stoplights, the 392 loses none of its abilities off-road. Indeed, the 392 is raised another inch to encourage you to take it where the asphalt ends.
That extra inch is functional — a testament to the extensive re-engineering Jeep’s surgeons did to make this Frankenjeep monster a reality. The engine bay has been extensively reworked to fit the taller, longer, hungrier V-8. The hood scoop is real, and more airways are available should it get blocked or overwhelmed by a wave of muck while treading up to 32 inches of water.
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