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The clouds of war are forming in Michigan, as Ford begins final preparations for tonight’s debut of the 2021 Ford Bronco. When the Dearborn automaker entered the final stages of its preparations last weekend, Jeep was not far behind, with the iconic off-road brand releasing a lone teaser rendering of what appeared to be a V8 equipped Wrangler. Fast forward to today, and Jeep fired a proverbial warning shot, with the brand unveiling the first real world pictures of the Wrangler 392 Concept.

Wrangler 392

The exterior styling of the Wrangler 392 Concept does not stray too far from its core Wrangler DNA, with Jeep designers using a soft top equipped Rubicon as the base for this creation. However, eyes are immediately drawn to the hood which features a big hood scoop to help channel air to the 6.4 liter Hemi V8 lurking underneath. Jeep has said in the past that a factory V8 Wrangler would not happen due to the engine not allowing enough crush space for it to pass crash tests. However, it would seem that Jeep engineers (perhaps with some added motivation from their crosstown rivals) have found a solution to this problem. Jeep did not dive too deep into the specifics, but it is known that the concept has an upgraded frame, along with stouter engine mounts to handle the extra power on hand.

The two images Jeep released only provide fleeting glimpses of the interior, but the vibrant leather seats and the contrasting black trim does look stunning, and perhaps the cabin is hiding a few more surprises borrowed from the SRT model family.

Of course, the big news here is what is lurking under the hood, with the concept being powered by the 6.4 liter Hemi V8. No Hellcat to be found here, but we suspect few will scoff at the notion of a Wrangler wielding 450 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque. Those figures are a massive leap over the naturally aspirated 3.6 liter V6 which only makes 285 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Unlike other Wranglers, no manual is on hand, with the 392 Concept sending its power to all four wheels through an eight speed automatic. A two speed transfer case is also on hand, with Jeep claiming that the setup allows the concept to rocket its way to 60 mph in less than 5.0 seconds which is very quick, especially for a Jeep Wrangler.

But the Wrangler 392 Concept goes far beyond mere straight line sprints, and still manages to offer the high levels of capability that Jeep enthusiasts want. High strength Dana 44 axles and locking differentials are mounted at both ends, while the suspension benefits from a two inch lift, monotube Fox Shocks, and 17-inch beadlock wheels. Those wheels are shod in 37-inch mud terrain tires designed to help the concept power its way through the toughest of terrain.

The timing of this announcement is certainly no accident, with Jeep timing the unveil of this concept to occur on the same day as the Bronco’s debut. This is further proof that there is some gamesmanship taking place in Auburn Hills in an attempt to try and take some momentum away from the Bronco’s debut. Ford has certainly noticed however, with  Ford North America Product Communications manager Mike Levine tweeting that it’s a sign that Ford’s key competitor is getting very nervous. Levine would subsequently go for the kill in a separate tweet (above) likening Jeep’s efforts to Barbara Streisand attempting to suppress information about her home, but only for it to backfire. Ouch, but this back and forth also shows that Ford is not backing down, and this will certainly further motivate the Blue Oval to really drive home the Bronco’s mission in life to buyers.

As for Jeep, it stopped short of confirming whether the concept was given the green light for production or not, but the brand did reveal that it could be a very compelling preview into the future stating  “Jeep enthusiasts have been clamoring for a V-8-powered production Wrangler in recent years and the new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is an indication they may soon get their wish.” As for us, we like healthy competition, and perhaps an all out sales war in the off-road SUV segment could help provide a fresh spark into a growing segment that has recently dealt with sales challenges from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


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