For the 2024 model year it is 1974 all over again for Mopar fans. 1974 was the last model year for authentic V8 powered Mopar muscle cars being available at Chrysler’s Dodge and Plymouth dealerships. 1975 was the dawn of a very long depressing dark area for V8 performance for Mopar fans. Only glimmer of hope during these dark times were the 1978-1979 Li’l Red Express Pickup and later the V8 powered 1993-1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 1998-2003 Dodge Durango, and 1994-2001 Dodge Ram 1500. Soon there-after came the release of the third generation Hemi V8 which powered Daimler-Chrysler’s new rear-wheel drive LX cars, SUVs, and Pickups. It was 20 years of V8 bliss that will end with the upcoming 2025 model year.
The 2023 Dodge Challenger and Charger just ended production. If they return it is unlikely it will be powered by a Hemi V8 or any other V8 for that matter. Dodge (Stellantis) just announced today (January 9, 2024) that its performance SUV, the Durango SRT 392 would end production during the current 2024 model year with the release of a commemorative “Final Edition” of the 2024 Durango SRT 392 model, only 1,000 of these will be produced. Additionally the Durango SRT Hellcat model with its mighty 710 horsepower supercharged 6.2 liter Hemi V8 will end production before the end of the model year. Ram has recently announced 2024 iteration of the Ram 1500 lineup will be the last to have a V8, so none of its three available Hemi V8s will carryover to the 2025 Ram 1500 lineup. The 2500 and higher Ram lineups will more than likely retain their Hemi V8s for 2025 and for at least a few model years after that due to 2500 and higher Rams being in a less stringent emissions and fuel economy category.
This leaves the Wrangler Rubicon 392 as the last man standing, as the possible last vehicle to carry-on with a high-performance V8 since Stellantis has not made an official announcement cancelling it (however more on this topic later in the article). The Wrangler 392’s 6.4 liter Hemi V8 is factory rated at 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The 2021-2024 Jeep Wrangler 392 is the perfect Wrangler or 4×4 for that matter. Right off the dealership lot with no mods it can take on the toughest of off-road conditions and trails and not even break a sweat. It’s loaded with enough standard options that if listed on a sheet of paper is longer than most home mortgage agreements. It is a comfortable vehicle that seemly floats through the air at highway speeds and glides over effortlessly paved road imperfections and potholes like a 2-ton 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. The Wrangler 392 is so civilized on paved roads when compared to its barbaric ancestor the 1987-1995 (YJ) Wrangler which had a four wheel leaf spring suspension that knocked out your teeth when road imperfections and potholes were encountered.
Not to mention with the Wrangler 392 has a 10 out of 10 fun factor like all other Wrangler models, the roof and doors can be easily removed (if equipped with the optional Sky One-Touch Power Top the open air experience is even more easily accessible) and the windshield can easily be folded down. The interior is so pleasing with comfortable leather seats, a perfect dash layout, plenty of headroom and legroom, and a top-tier entertainment system with a easy to use touchscreen. The 2024 version has an even bigger touchscreen and power driver and passenger side front seats. Who would have thought that a Wrangler would ever have power seats?
However the real appeal of the Wrangler 392 is it’s got the heart of a traditional muscle car. Its 6.4 liter Hemi is a traditional pushrod V8 with only two valves per cylinder and no overhead cams just the way they made all American high performance V8s back in the golden era. 0-60 mph comes in only 4.5 seconds and the quarter mile in 13 seconds flat which is amazing fast considering the Wrangler 392 is a hefty 5,300-lb vehicle with the aerodynamics of a brick. It’s full-time Selec-Trac 4-wheel drive system gives all four big 35-inch all-terrain tires maximum traction even at full throttle (some 2021-2023 Wrangler 392s were equipped with slightly smaller 33-inch tires). It’s also got the same great deep resonance V8 growl of a 1965-1967 Shelby AC Cobra 427 with factory side pipes when the dash exhaust button is pushed. This activates solenoids that open valves in the active dual-mode exhaust system giving the Wrangler 392 that traditional deep hollow mufflers exhaust sound that turns heads several blocks away. When a more quiet exhaust tone is desired, pushing the dash exhaust button quiets down the exhaust system to a more civilized tone.
For Wrangler fans, the Wrangler 392 has seemed safe and immune from all the regs and mandates pushing the automobile industry to electrification. After-all Jeep needs a high-end super off-road capable and fast SUV like the Wrangler 392 to compete with Ford’s Bronco Raptor. Especially when you consider that Stellantis’ new miracle motor the Twin-Turbo 3.0 liter Hurricane I6 doesn’t fit in the cramped hood of the current 2018-present (JL) Wrangler. So it seems only logical that the Wrangler 392 would stick around fulfilling this role until the all-new 2028 Wrangler debuts with larger under-the-hood space. Unfortunately we don’t live in times of common sense and logic, the ever tightening emissions and fuel economy standards, rules, and regulations that “the powers that be” have bestowed on the car industry have finally gotten Stellantis to say “uncle”. The party is now over at Stellantis, as it has been pulling the plug on many of its Hemi V8 powered vehicles since 2022.
It’s now the Wrangler 392’s turn at the guillotine. Yesterday (January 8) a picture of a new Jeep January 2024 incentive program began circulating around the Internet where participating Jeep dealers who succeed at the challenge will be rewarded an allocation for one 2024 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon “Final Edition” model. This post appears to be legitimate and confirms that the Wrangler 392’s last year model year will be the current 2024 model year. It’s estimated that around 24,000 total Wrangler 392s will be produced over four model years when production permanently ends.
It’s an end to a great era, the Wrangler will most certainly live on for many years to come but the Wrangler 392 will soon depart forever. Back in 1979 when Car and Driver magazine test drove the last of the Pontiac 400 cubic-inch (6.6 liter) powered Trans Ams it made the most poignant insight when describing the Trans Am with the words “It will not pass this way again”. The 1979 Trans Am was the last of its breed, a muscle car with a 4-speed manual transmission, a large cfm 4-barrel carburetor, and a big thristy V8 with lots of cubic inches of displacement. For the 1979 model year, the Pontiac 400 V8 powered 1979 Trans Am was in its last year of production and was a victim of the more stringent fuel economy and emissions standards of its era. Fortunately V8 powered cars, SUVs, and pickups with generally much smaller engine displacements than the Trans Am’s, survived that era. Unfortunately this will not be the case 45 years later at Stellantis where the white flag has been raised and 2025 begins a new era at Stellantis without the V8. Both GM and Ford for the time remain committed to its loyal customers to continue to offer V8s in its performance cars, big SUVs, and full-size pickups for the foreseeable future.
It is so extremely painful witnessing the Wrangler 392’s demise because Jeep with the Wrangler 392 didn’t just build the perfect Wrangler, the perfect Jeep, or the perfect 4×4 – it built the perfect vehicle – end of story. When Wrangler Rubicon 392 production ends sometime within this current 2024 model year (to quote Car and Driver) “it will not pass this way again”. Please keep the box of facial tissue handy this story has an ending that is a real tearjerker.
Written contents in this article – © 2024 Pete Dunton (Old Car Memories) – All Rights Reserved