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Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 20th Anniversary – Shootout at the Seven-Slot Corral

Car Reviews

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 20th Anniversary – Shootout at the Seven-Slot Corral

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 20th Anniversary

Shootout at the Seven-Slot Corral

Jeep rarely has a bone to pick but they’re more than happy to remember the military made them – and put up a fight when necessary. It happened when Hummer put a seven-slot grille on a truck, and this Jeep has two of them – a seven-slot grille up front and the same pattern embossed on the inside of the rear door, and  closely echoes the wretched excess that defined Hummer. When Ford announced they were finally building a new Bronco, Jeep brought out the “392,” a thinly veiled reminder there is no replacement for displacement. And now we have the 20th Anniversary model marking two decades of Rubicon.

Jeep walked down the hall in Auburn Hills and asked how many extra “392” engines (it’s actually 391 cubic inches) its powertrain group had. I’m sure there was some pushback since Wranglers do things no other 392 recipient does, but with adjustments to oiling and intake air free of water and snow (the hood scoop is functional) 470 hp and 470 lb-ft is yours in a Wrangler. I won’t call the 13/17 EPA label fiction but it’s unlikely in most uses, and absolutely out of the question using the Rubicon as intended.

The 6.4-liter V-8 makes wonderful noises but can be muted, and despite this Wrangler weighing more than the truck I previously used to flat-tow Wranglers, blasts it to 60 mph in four seconds and smack into its top speed limiter in 13 seconds. The fuel gauge may well register that exercise too, and anyone going backcountry exploring would be wise to invest in a couple of fuel cans.

Unlike other Rubicons the 392 comes only with Selec-Trac – Jeep speak for full-time 4WD; I suspect it’s to limit hooliganism and preserve mechanical parts and because the abundant power negates the need for the Rubi-standard 4:1 low-range. A 392 also brings suspension upgrades, stronger brakes and a host of standard equipment.

Rather than give their baby the traditional emerald, the 20th Anniversary pack receives plenty of decals and wallpaper…on the shifter, inside the tailgate, on the shock absorbers for crying out loud, and across the hood with lat/long coordinates for those who can’t find the Rubicon on a map (look west of Lake Tahoe). Cosmetics include front bumper hoop, red belts, dash trim and Nappa leather upholstery, along with bronze wheels and trim bits.

More useful parts include the Xtreme Recon unique suspension and 35-inch tires, Mopar tool kit, air compressor, off-road camera, rock-slider side steps, Gorilla glass windshield, slush mats and a trailer package. The remaining options on my example were optional paint and a power sliding top with removable quarter windows, for a grand total as eye-opening as the roar it makes: a shade more than $95,000. I’m no jeweler but that’s a lot of emeralds.

You can take this Rubicon almost anywhere they sell gasoline. It’ll hold four or five people for schlepping kids to school, assuming they don’t have a large band instrument or sports bag, fit inside the majority of mall and airport parking structures and cruise along an Interstate more quietly than you’d expect. None of which is the point…leather be damned. Some reports have thought it darty on the highway, which I suspect is a function of slightly-smaller-than-a-bus tires and trail-biased suspension reviewers are simply not used to. I found that speed limiter once and it didn’t scare me nearly as much as “range” might far from pavement.

Rubicons are made to leave the pavement and a 392 anniversary will go most places it fits if it’s less than three feet deep—remember it’s substantially wider, taller and nearly five feet longer than the original Jeep, and it’ll go further still once you master the art of airing down. Certainly there are obstacles that will stop it but I dare say the only mass production vehicles going further would be a more maneuverable two-door Wrangler or Bronco.

So who is this for? I’ve taken $150,000 Ranger Rovers and G-Wagens four wheeling but I’m the exception, which may be why I took this four wheeling and otherwise left it parked and drove my car. Will Wrangler and/or Hemi collectors grab one for a future auction? Will people drop $100K at a dealership and hit the dirt, or just the YouTubers bent on gaining views by destroying perfectly good machinery? Would I get one if I had a spare $100K floundering about and BLM land or a big ranch nearby? Probably, and I might put the windshield down and not bother with license plates either.

Mr. Whale's been breaking parts for 45 years and writing about it for 30. An award-winning writer, he's served as Technical Editor on several major magazines, been published in more than 40 outlets, and served as driving instructor and motoring book judge. He's a member of the Motor Press Guild, Texas Auto Writers Association, and if you say "It's OK, I'm a racer" to him he'll run to the nearest large body of water.

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