Review: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 - The Best of the Icon
I made the mistake of driving a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, and now it’s all I can think about.
In case you didn’t know, in addition to offering a 2.0-liter turbo-four, a diesel, a plug-in hybrid turbo-four, and an old-school V6 in their Wrangler, Jeep decided to stuff their massive, 470 horsepower 6.4-liter V8 in, just for fun. And boy, it’s fun. Sorry, no Hellcat option here. The Stellantarians do want some of their buyers to remain above ground.
The result is a fantastic giggle factory of endless smiles. Sometimes described as the American G-Wagen, the Wrangler 392 is exactly that. It’s what Americans have made of their iconic off-roader, just as the Germans have made of theirs.
And it’s so awesome.
The Wrangler 392 is the ultimate off-roader, but it’s also one of the most fun on-road experiences you can buy. Doors on or off, top on or off, Jeep has doubled down on its signature Wrangler charm and reminds buyers that despite the presence of a very cool reinvented Ford, the Wrangler remains at the top of the segment — if you’re willing to pay for it.
Excellent sound, fantastic power
Starting the 392 Wrangler you’re greeted by one of the most incredible exhaust notes to come from a factory today. It’s a deep and bellowing rebuke to all the vanity plate flaunting $70,000 Tesla Model 3 buyers. Enjoy your iPad on wheels, all you B-Level Managers, the 392 Wrangler is here to party — and you’ll hear every second of it. The 392 Wrangler comes with a valved exhaust controlled by a switch on the dash, but we doubt that any buyer will ever flick it to “quiet mode.”
If the sound wasn’t enough to convince you of the sticker shock, the power will. Producing 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, the 392 is a hilarious, loud, brick-shaped rocket on 33-inch tires (35-inch tires are optional with the available Xtreme Recon package). Car and Driver clocked the 392 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat. Bonkers? Yes. Just one acceleration run in the 392 will have you questioning everything about the reality we live in. Take the red pill, my friends.
Jeep has done a great job with their current JL generation of Wrangler in making it a comfortable and modern driver, and that’s extended to the 392 in every way. Aside from all the standard niceties and tech (bewilderingly absent in some other off-roaders, *cough* 4Runner *cough*), the 392 comes standard with Fox shocks and a host of suspension and off-road upgrades. It soaks up bumps in a supremely pleasing way and rears up on its haunches so hilariously under acceleration that it looks like a brick-shaped 747 ready for take-off thundering down a runway.
The 392 Wrangler is a joy to drive both on-road and off-road. Sure, you have all the quirks that come with owning a Wrangler, e.g., wind noise, road noise, other noise, and more noise, plus some steering wander, but it’s just so much fun you won’t care.
Serious off-road cred
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 carries a hefty price premium, with much of that cost wrapped up in its straight-from-the-factory, warranty-included off-road goodies. The non-Xtreme Recon 392 is already amazing but check the Xtreme Recon box and the Wrangler’s capabilities go, well, extreme. Some features include 35-inch all-terrain tires, electronic front, and rear locking differentials, electronic front sway bar disconnect, a two-inch lift, and full-time four-wheel drive.
While the Wrangler 392 is not cheap, it’s also somewhat of a bargain. What would have cost over $100,000 to custom build a few years ago, you can get for much less, all with a factory warranty. The 392 Wrangler is so capable that its competitors don’t feel much like the Bronco and 4Runner — it feels closer to the German G63.
Did we mention the smiles this brick produces? Truly, smiles-per-gallon has never been more true than it is with the Wrangler 392. Stellantis seems to be committed to producing vehicles that are all about ridiculous fun, and this might be their best yet.
Worth the price?
Whether the 392 Wrangler is worth the price comes down to perspective. While some will decry its $80k+ price tag as a ridiculous price to pay for a Jeep, others (like myself) will see this as a small price to pay for the fun you'll have. And in that sense, it’s an amazing deal. Sure, it doesn’t have the luxury of a G-Wagen, but it’s more capable off-road and more fun.
After just an hour with one, I’m saving my pennies. The Wrangler 392 is the end of an era, the last hurrah. But boy, what a note to go out on. If you want a laugh whenever you’re behind the wheel, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is the answer.
Things we loved:
The perfect V8 exhaust note
Better-than expected handling
Excellent on-road driving dynamics
Comfort and interior space
Things we didn’t:
The ultimate Wrangler, an instant icon. It doesn't come cheap, but off-road and on-road driving enthusiasts will find it worth the price. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is the true American G-Wagen.