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CHATHAM, Mass. – Jeep has proven “more is more” when it comes to on and off-road performance for the Wrangler enthusiast with the Rubicon 392 featuring a 475-horsepower Hemi V8 engine, 35-inch tires providing 12.9-inches of ground clearance and an exhaust system which tells the world you are driving the most powerful Wrangler in history.

Thankfully during my week in the Sarge Green four-door (the only body style available with the HEMI) I did not need the extra ground clearance but driving the Jeep on paved roads provided immeasurable fun for a (just to be transparent) former Wrangler (six-cylinder) owner.

This Wrangler showed major advances in every-day capabilities compared to my 2013 two-door Sahara in terms of technology, amenities and drivetrain features.

The first Wrangler with HEMI power

Two years after (the then) Chrysler (now Stellantis) revised its iconic HEMI engine design for the model-year 2003 Dodge Ram pickup, The Grand Cherokee became the first of several Jeeps to gain HEMI power. Today the 6.4-liter V8 can had in the Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer, Grand Cherokee and the Wrangler Rubicon 392.

This powerplant puts the 475 hp as well as 470 pounds-feet of torque through the standard eight-speed electronic automatic transmission and Selec-Trac full-time, active-transfer case. Four modes are available 4WD (wheel drive) Auto, 4WD High, Neutral and 4WD Low for the challenging off-road sojourns.

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Off road, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 delivers the capability for which Jeep is renowned. This includes:

  • Off-road Plus with Sand and Rock modes: The modes adjust throttle, transmission shift points and traction control for peak performance on higher speed passes on sand terrain, as well as during low-speed rock crawling. The Off-road Plus drive mode also gives drivers the ability to lock the rear axle at high speeds while in “4H.”
  • Selec-Speed Control manages vehicle speed in “4L” while traversing off-road terrain without requiring throttle or brake input. Selec-Speed Control is activated using a button on the dashboard and can be adjusted from 1-5 mph simply by using the Electronic Range Select shift control.

Already set up for maximum off-roading, the Wrangler Rubicon 392 can be enhanced, as our review unit was, with the $3,995 Extreme Recon 35-inch Tire Package. More than two inches of extra ground clearance and tires growing from 33 to 35 inches (LT315/70RC 113/110S tires), the optional group also brings: a 4.56 rear-axle ratio; wheel-flare extensions; 35-inch Tire Rubicon 392 suspension; 17×8-inch Bronze Beadlock-Capable wheels; Mopar tire relocation kit; Mopar jack-spacer, and Mopar hinge-gate reinforcement.

Also on the review unit was the Jeep Trail Rail™ Management System, a series of loops on the floor and sides of the cargo area for securing stuff, as well as a mat for the floor.

I have scratched the surface of the components Jeep incorporated into the Wrangler Rubicon 392 for off-roading (while improving its on-road characteristics); this vehicle is VERY capable of handling virtually anything the serious, let alone novice, off-roader might encounter.

Updated amenities and technology make daily driving comfortable

Every Wrangler generation since its 1987 introduction has seen on-road performance and comfort make major strides forward. The 2021 Wrangler Rubicon 392 represents the fourth year of the fourth generation of the SUV, and it is filled with a comprehensive collection of technology and amenities. Gone are the buggy-like traits which evolved from Wrangler’s World War II Jeep ancestor.

Once settled into the heated leather-clad seats, which were extremely comfortable and provide terrific support even during aggressive driving, the height of the vehicle provided a panoramic view in all directions. All seat adjustments are manual, but thanks to the tilting/telescoping leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel – which is filled with controls for a smartphone and audio/infotainment, including voice activation – finding a comfortable driving position is easy.

The 8.4-inch color display at the upper center of the dash provides the heart of the Uconnect 4C infotainment system with navigation.

2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 392 interior

Standard Jeep Advanced Safety Group

Jeep brought advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) to Wrangler with the 2017 introduction of the fourth generation and the Rubicon 392 includes the Jeep Advanced Safety Group as standard.

The systems within the group are blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection; forward-collision warning (AEB); adaptive cruise control; automatic high-beam headlights; ParkSense Assist System, and rear backup camera.

Not specifically part of this group, the optional ($595) integrated off-road camera works in that environment as well as in low-speed parking maneuvers.

Off-road capable with on-road enjoyment

Firing up the 6.4L HEMI V8 announces your presence in the Wrangler Rubicon 392 and reminds you how lucky you are to experience this unique version of Jeep history.

I loved my week in the Wrangler. The ride was a bit stiff but not overly so and the noise – even with the performance exhaust switched off – reminded me that the thin top (not much more sound deadening from the tester’s hardtop versus a soft top version) did little to muffle outside noise. Having said that, conversations between passenger and driver were not impeded, nor did we have to raise our voices.

6.4-liter HEMI® V-8 engine in the 2021 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon 392

This is a special vehicle and carries a price putting it squarely on top of the Wrangler mountain. Comprehensively equipped, the base price of the Wrangler Rubicon 392 is $74,800 with our version totaling $82,170 with major options (the tire package, off-road camera) and the $1,595 destination fee.

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You can get Wrangler enjoyment in a package starting at $32,570. From there you can build your Wrangler with a choice of two or four-doors; four, six or eight-cylinder – even a plug-in hybrid – engines; hard or soft tops, and on and on.

Regardless of how you build it, the Wrangler will deliver off-road capabilities with daily-driving on-road conveniences

Next week TBR Drives the Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid.

Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.