The Jeep Grand Cherokee is great, but is it park-it-outside-my-Martha's-Vineyard-summer-house great? Perhaps not, which is possibly why Jeep has decided to bring back its ultimate suburban status symbols, the Wagoneer. Here's everything we know about the long-rumored return of Jeep's most luxurious model.
It's Coming Soon
Back in 2016, then-Jeep boss (now Fiat Chrysler CEO) Mike Manley confirmed that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer names would stage a comeback as two distinct high-end models. Since then, Jeep hasn't said much about the Wagoneer's fate, until mid-August 2020, when the company broke its silence with two tantalizing teaser images in a tweet:
Pictured is an exterior badge that would seem to spell out "Wagoneer" (only the last three letters are visible) with an American flag, and an engine start-stop button. Not a whole lot, but this does mark our first official look at the long-anticipated model.
A week later, the company dropped another two-picture teaser on Twitter (above), showing off part of what seems to be the Wagoneer's big shiny grille, along with the upcoming SUV's mirror caps. We have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of these small teases in the lead up to the truck's actual reveal.
Production Was Rumored to Start in 2021
Last year, FCA announced a $4.5 billion investment in various Michigan plants, and as part of that, confirmed that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer would go into production in early 2021. Of course, a lot has changed since then, and we wouldn't be surprised if the COVID shutdown and its economic impacts have delayed FCA's plans. When we asked recently, Jeep was not able to provide details on production timing.
In any case, the Wagoneer models are set to be built at FCA's Warren, Michigan plant, which currently builds the last-gen Ram 1500 Classic. The plant will get a $1.5 billion investment to retool for these Jeep siblings, and an FCA spokesperson confirms that the 1500 Classic and new Wagoneer will share a production line.
About that "Wagoneer" vs "Grand Wagoneer" thing
Right from the start, Jeep has committed to two models within the Wagoneer family: regular, and Grand. Back in 2016, Manley told Road & Track, "[Y]ou could imagine the use of Wagoneer to denote a really premium vehicle, and Grand Wagoneer takes it to the very next level."
Jeep seemed to confirm this with another teaser tweet from early August, pondering the definition of "Grand":
Body-on-Frame Construction and a Ram Chassis
Our colleagues at Car and Driver, writing about Jeep's recent Twitter teases, report that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are expected to share a platform with the Ram 1500 pickup. Both GM and Ford offer pickup-based full-size SUVs, so that sort of thing makes sense for the Wagoneer. Additionally, Car and Driver speculates that the Grand Wagoneer badge will be reserved for an extended-wheelbase variant—think Suburban vs Tahoe.
A Plug-In Hybrid Is Coming
In its 2018 capital markets presentation, Jeep said that it intends to offer a plug-in hybrid variant for every vehicle it sells. That includes the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. Right now, the only plug-in hybrid FCA offers is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, which makes 260 hp from an Atkinson-cycle V-6 and two electric motors. It's unclear whether the Wagoneer would get a similar setup, or something totally different.
A 717-HP Supercharged V-8 Is a Possibility
Last year, we uncovered a document from transmission supplier ZF that indicated a Grand Wagoneer Trackhawk with a supercharged Hellcat V-8 could be on its way. At one point, ZF was working on a high-torque version of its venerable 8-speed automatic for the Wagoneer. This transmission, known internally as ZF-8HP95X, is currently used only in the Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan.
Of course, this document could simply indicate that, at one point, a Grand Wagoneer Hellcat was being tested, with no intention of production. We can dream, though.
It Will Be Expensive
That signals the company's ambitions to compete with ultra-luxury SUVs like the Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. The two Americans in that group can get to around $100,000, while an AMG GLS63 stickers around $130,000 and the Range Rover can exceed $200,000.
We'll keep updating this post as we learn more about Jeep's plans for the return of the Wagoneer.
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