2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 review – Jeep in surplus

2021 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 392 Quick Facts

6.4-liter V8 (470 horsepower @ 6,000 RPM, 470 lb-ft @ 4,300 RPM)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

13 city / 17 highway / 14 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

18.5 city / 14.1 motorway / 16.5 combined. (NRCan Rating, L / 100 km)

Base price: 73 500 $ (USA) / 101 445 $ (Canada)

As tested: 78 545 $ (USA) / 111 445 $ (Canada)

Prices include US $ 1,495 destination fee and US $ 1,895 (up to $ 2,795) for shipping, PDI and A / C tax in Canada and are not directly comparable due to cross-border equipment differences. Note: This trim was not available in Canada 2021 but was added to the 2022 range, so Canadian figures are based on 2022 MY.

No needs and V8 i and Jeep Wrangler. But sometimes brands do things just because they can. Which is the case with this particular Jeep – there’s a fucking Hemi hood, for no other reason than Jeep can do it.

Well – there’s another reason. The company can rake in some serious money.

This is because the addition of the 6.4-liter V8 puts a lot of weight on the price tag. My test vehicle affixed for almost 80 thousand.

Eighty thousand for a Wrangler. One that outside the V8 and Rubicon off-road training – something that is available with other powertrains – adds very little to the overall Wrangler experience.

That said, the extra power – and the exhaust pipe, especially when the dual-mode exhaust system is set up correctly – are appreciated. I have driven many Wranglers, and the 392 is the first one I have driven that had a real pass stroke. It may be exaggerated, but who cares? At least until it’s time to refuel – which it often is.

Editor’s note: Even though we are well into 2022, we will still be running reviews of some 2021 models, especially models that will not change significantly for 2022. This is partly because these models are important to the market, partly because yours was really had to take back some reviews when working on other internal projects, and partly because some 2021s are still in the press fleet. In fact, I recently tested a 2021 Bronco.

By choosing this Wrangler with Rubicon decor, you get a 6.4-liter V8 (470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, Fox damper, water demand of up to 32.5 inches, 33-inch tires, 2-inch lift , eight-speed automatic transmission and a creep ratio of 48: 1.

Apart from the V8, you have the Wrangler experience of bog standard, which means a walking highway ride that requires frequent steering corrections, lots of road and wind noise that penetrates into speed and a bouncing ride. Of course, this is not bad – the modern Wrangler’s interior is a nice place to do business, Uconnect is still one of the better infotainment systems available, and there is plenty of terrain candy, especially in Rubicon models, that you could use if you would like have adventures off the sidewalk.

This writer had an adventure, okay. I took this Wrangler off-road and it cleared itself just like any other Wrangler, although the extra torque seemed unnecessary on smoother surfaces (even 4WD engaged and the shoulders locked appropriately). You may want the V8 for its burble, passing power or miserable excess, but you probably won’t need the extra oomph off-road.

Here’s the point of this piece where I’m nagging – just like with the Ford Raptor from a few years ago, I got stuck. Large. It was a similar situation – went too slowly into a water-filled hole and had no traction to get out. In my defense, part of the reason I did not just blow through was that the trail was slippery and there were trees on each side – too much throttle would probably have resulted in a fish tail that could have bent sheet metal.

I felt a little better from my dumbassery when the park ranger who winched me and my companion told me that the same clay hole had killed a Mojave Gladiator the week before. Better, because Mojave is as capable as Rubicon and this watering hole took out two nasty machines, but also worse, because the Gladiator was apparently badly damaged.

As for this test rig, it took us home, without any obvious driveability problems during movement. That said, it stopped going when it was placed in the Park.

I dug around on some forums after the incident and discovered that other Wrangler owners have reported that the same problem occurred after off-road driving if they got a little too dirty. Maybe stones or dirt / mud have gotten somewhere they should not and caused problems.

I also tried to find out Jeep’s brain about the incident – after apologizing profusely, of course – but was told that even if Jeep PR would not hold me back from what happened (shit happens off the road, no sheet metal bent, I asked for sorry, I was transparent, et cetera), they would prefer to keep any lessons learned internally. I heard that the trance might have been replaced, although I could not confirm it.

To be clear, I’m not saying that the jeep failed in its off-road test – I’m the one who failed. And the jeep gets credit – it got us home. So if you have your eyes on this Rubicon trim Jeep, you can be sure that it is as capable as any other Wrangler I have tested, and it fell victim to a bad decision. I will also give a shout-out to the air intake system to keep the jeep running even when it is half submerged.

Apart from bad days in the terrain park, the V8 Wrangler experience, especially in Rubicon trim, is much like the experience of most other Wranglers – you are encouraged to sacrifice some comfort, as well as driving / handling, for off-road driving ability. Here you are further encouraged to make greater sacrifices – a much larger cash outlay and even worse fuel economy. The balance is a serious increase in power that is quite useful on the road, and may or may not help off the sidewalk, depending on the situation – sometimes more power is helpful, sometimes it is unnecessary or even counterproductive.

Besides the engine, what gives you 80 thousand bucks? Full-time four-wheel drive of course and 3.73 rear axle ratio. Other standard features include front and rear axle locking, remote start, towbars, keyless entry and start, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic, heated front seats, Uconnect, Alpine audio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, audio, USB ports, Bluetooth , 17-inch wheels, three-part body-colored hardtop, fenders and automatic temperature control.

Optional features included the Firecracker Red color, a towing package, a cargo package, floor mats for all weathers, off-road camera and Jeeps powertop at the touch of a button (replaces the hard drive in body color). The outdoor price, including the $ 1,495 destination fee, was $ 78,545.

Those gloomy fuel economy numbers I hinted at? 13/17/14. Yes.

Once I shook off the shame of getting stuck (again) and put the Wrangler in the right perspective, I left with mixed feelings. Putting a V8 in a Wrangler sounds good, and when you step on the gas, you understand why the Jeep did it. But the extra power is probably not necessary for most off-road driving. I’m not even sure it’s that useful on the road – yes, I talked about the fact that this Wrangler has much more suitable power than most, but the other powertrains offered are not entirely anemic. They can do most of the fitting and joining work without much drama, especially if you have the patience.

Younger I would just, without much thought, say “screw it, V8 all things”. Older, more experienced me say that putting a V8 in a Wrangler is a bit like buying first class aircraft – it’s much more expensive and definitely more fun, but not absolutely necessary.

What’s new for 2021?

The availability of V8 power and upgraded off-road capacity.

Who should buy it

Those who absolutely, positively need V8 power in their Wrangler – and can afford the payments. And the fuel.

[Images © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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