The all-new Grand Wagoneer Concept marks the rebirth of a classic bringing back an American icon.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles revealed plans to revive the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and showed off a concept version of the luxury, three-row SUV on Thursday.
The company said it will make an entire lineup of vehicles under the long-retired Wagoneer nameplate, which was introduced in 1962 and phased out in 1991. They will range in price from about $60,000 to more than $100,000 with all the bells and whistles.
The automaker did not reveal many details about its plans for the vehicles, which are expected to begin production in 2021.
The Grand Wagoneer will “be competing with the Cadillac Escalade and the Range Rover and will bring a level above in terms of premium-ness and sophistication and craftsmanship,” said Christian Meunier, global head of the Jeep brand for FCA.
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The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer (the company mentions both) are entering a world much different than when they were canceled in 1991.
“It dominated the premium SUV scene, really invented it and dominated it for 28 years, but that was 30 years ago,” Ralph Gilles, FCA’s head of design, told journalists during a preview session.
Much has changed, and now Jeep will be the new kid on the block in the full-size SUV segments, including the luxury variant, where General Motors competes with the likes of its Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon and Ford has its Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will allow FCA to tap into SUV segments that make auto executives salivate and in which Jeep has been absent.
“The large and especially the midsize utility markets are hot. Now FCA has entries with the added magical strength of the Jeep name,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader.
Prices for large SUVs have been inching upward over the last year. Kelley Blue Book lists the average transaction price for full-size SUV/crossover increasing from $62,420 in July 2019 to $64,031 in June of this year and for luxury full-size SUV/crossover increasing from $89,446 in July 2019 to $90,182 in June of this year.
“This size vehicle and this type of vehicle is a cash cow so getting them to get into this market is a way to expand the revenue generation they’re getting from the Ram truck, which is a big hit,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at Auto Forecast Solutions. “It takes Jeep into the place where it should have been a while ago.”
SUVs and crossovers tend to be divided into those based on trucks or those based on cars. The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are being built at the Warren Truck Assembly plant in Michigan, where FCA produces its Ram 1500 Classic pickup, the older version of the 1500.
Many details about the new SUVs were not provided during the preview, although Meunier said “there will be a very appropriate powertrain when we launch, and electrification is something that we’re working on right now.”
FCA noted that the vehicle shown, in a color called arctic ice, with 24-inch wheels and 3D-printed trapezoidal wheel arches, is still described as a concept, so it’s unclear what will make it to production. Wagoneers are, however, being tested “all over the world already,” Meunier said.
The company said the new vehicle would have a premium audio system, have multiple touch screens and be available in several off-road variations.
Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Eric D. Lawrence on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.
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