Jeep shares concept V-8 Wrangler ahead of Bronco reveal

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Jeep on Monday teased the possibility of a V-8 powered production Wrangler with details of a concept vehicle just hours ahead of the debut of Ford Motor Co.'s off-road Bronco SUV that is seeking to bite into Jeep's market.

The announcement from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles does not state the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept is on its way for sale. But the possibility of a Jeep with a 6.5-liter engine that packs 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque with a claimed acceleration of 0-60 in less than 5 seconds is likely to excite performance fans.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept

"Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts have been asking us for a Wrangler V-8 and our new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept proves that we have the ability to make that happen," Jim Morrison, FCA's head of the Jeep brand in North America, said in a prepared statement.

Details of the eight-speed transmission Jeep come ahead of the highly anticipated return Monday evening of the Ford Bronco after nearly a quarter century.

"It's just a concept — again. *whisper voice* (someone is very very nervous)," Ford spokesman Mike Levine tweeted following Jeep's news release.

He later shared a photo of concept Wrangler, adding: "The Streisand effect is a social phenomenon that occurs when attempting to hide information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information. It’s named after Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress photos of her home only drew further attention to it."

A Jeep spokesman declined to comment on the concept vehicle's timing. A video shared on social media, however, emphasizes "there's only one" Jeep.

The brand traditionally introduces concept vehicles in the spring to promote its Mopar accessories. Such vehicles typically are relatively easy to put together, said Sam Fiorani, AutoForecast Solutions' vice president of global vehicle forecasting.

"It helps draw some of the attention from Ford at this point," he said. "The Bronco is the first real competition for the Wrangler in a long time. There's no real need for that much horsepower at this point unless the Bronco starts taking sales away from the Wrangler. They're making tons of money on Wranglers as it is. Competition spurs innovation."

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept

The company sold more than 96,000 Wranglers in the first half of 2020, an 18% year-over-year decline, even with production shutdown for about two months.

The last time Jeep offered a V-8 engine, according to the company, was on the 1981 CJ with a 5-liter engine that delivered 125 horsepower and 220 pound-feet of torque.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble