Why The New Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 Is the Ultimate Grown-Up Tonka Truck

When you drive some cars, there’s an instantaneous “I get it” or “I know how I need to frame this” that strikes somewhere along the drive. With others, the path isn’t always so obvious, and staring at the new Wrangler Rubicon 392 after a couple of weeks at the wheel, it was clear that this brutish behemoth was one of the latter. That’s not to say that it’s not a capable vehicle, or that I didn’t have a toddler giggle-inducing good time driving it — it is, and I did. The real issue at hand is how to contextualize a vehicle as obscure and unorthodox as this, but at the same time it’s no more niche than the countless other six-figure cars on the road today; this one just comes in slightly different packaging.

The 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

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The 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

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The 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

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The 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

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The 2023 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

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A Value Proposition(ish)

To some, the Rubicon 392 ticks the boxes of a “budget” Mercedes G-Wagon, saying budget solely on account of the base sticker prices being roughly $70,000 apart. In case you’re wondering, the base price of the Rubicon 392 is $110,640, and the G 550 starts at $174,900. The base G-Wagon is the closest comparison to the Rubicon, and with that price tag also comes an advantage in power (delivering 470 horsepower compared to 416) and speed (4.5 seconds from 0-100 versus 5.9 seconds in the Merc). No, a Wrangler-to-Benz comparison is not a fair one for those with any kind of attachment to brand identity, nor are they equals in the areas of purported status and perceived luxury. That said, both vehicles carry a similar stature and attitude when rolling down the street — the tall and imposing rolling bricks both carry with them a sightly menacing demeanour, and symphonic soundtrack that only a large-displacement V8 can deliver.

Taking the Benz out of the equation entirely still leaves us with a value argument to be made. Think for a moment of how often you see a modified/lifted/etc Jeep Wrangler or pickup truck on the road on any given day. It’s a scene that somehow continues to grow, and to build some of these vehicles properly — not going the cheapest route to accomplish an aesthetic alone — you’re looking at spending into the six figures including the initial vehicle purchase. Then you need to find a qualified builder, decide on what vehicle to start with, and even then you wouldn’t be able to build your own equivalent to the Rubicon 392 without resorting to an engine swap — no doubt pushing you well above and beyond what you’d send buying this Jeep outright (with a full warranty, to boot).

A Better Way to Mid-Life Crisis

To some this is going to read a bit harsher than it’s meant — allow me to elaborate. At a certain point in our lives we reach a threshold where there’s an acceptance of the idea of treating yourself. When one both desires and can justify the expense of a “toy” vehicle of some sorts, this is often viewed as a “mid-life crisis on account of many reaching that stage of professional and financial security somewhere around mid-life. This isn’t a bad thing, nor is it something to look down upon or judge in any way. If you want it and can afford it, why not enjoy it?

The argument for the Rubicon 392 as better answer to that call is simple. Supercars on public roads can be uncomfortable, abusive, and downright not fun at times, and unless you want to risk impound, you’re not driving them the way they’re built to be driven. With the Rubicon 392, you can actually use it. Its acceleration will put a grin on your face, as will its ability to climb over and drive through anything you can possibly throw at it. That rich HEMI burble from under the hood will never get old. And going a step further, the ability to peel back its roof and doors? Come on.

Jeep Rubicon 392

The “Why Not” Debate

Yes, these days there’s ample argument to be made for fuel economy savings and electrification — so much so that even Jeep is looking at electrifying its lineup in the coming years. We can go up one side of that conversation and down the other, but for the sake of this specific dialogue we’ll condense the conversation down to this being a lesser priority for the target demographic of a HEMI-powered Wrangler. This Rubicon 392 is a toy, or a plaything of sorts, the same way one would consider owning a boat. You’re not driving it to the office every day, nor are you taking it on cross-country jaunts (though, you technically could). When it comes out of the garage you’re out to have some fun, and absorbing the associated costs with a smile on your face.

Long story short, love it or hate it (and we rather love it), The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 fills a specific void in the Wrangler lineup that’s clearly been missing for quite some time. For Jeep to not build the 392 now — in a time where Jeep customization/modification/upgrading is at its peak — would be a misstep, especially knowing that the long-term brand road map points to EVs. Why not go out with a bang, right?

Learn more about the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 here.