A significant expansion of the Jeep model range sees the exciting return of the legendary Wagoneer brand. Does the Wagoneer live up to the OG of SUVs?
When I saw the news of the Wagoneer concept dropping, I damn near knocked over my coffee all over my zip pocket, ironically, almost burning the part of me that makes me genetically predisposed to loving all things Jeep and all things OIIIIIIIO.
Growing up in the 90’s and watching countless American family movies, you are exposed to quite a few Wagoneers. I grew attached. Instantly. I had a favourite. The blue 1987 Grand Wagoneer from the Problem Child franchise. What a thing. My very first favourite vehicle and probably what sparked my love for cars. That and the Wrangler from “MacGyver” and the 308 GTS Quattrovalvole from “Magnum, P.I.”. Point is, I love the Wagoneer. Always have. Does the new one do justice to a brand that was born in 1962 and led the field up until end of production in 1991.
Trivia: Did you know that the Wagoneer was the vehicle that started the luxury 4X4 niche and was the first to become known as a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)? Source
We’ve established my love for it, but does the new Grand Wagoneer concept live up to its iconic name?
Off the bat I can tell you that it won’t necessarily bring about the nostalgia of the old Wagoneer. It is as new as you can get. Loaded with the latest driving tech and luxuries Jeep has to offer. None of this is bad, though as it promises to be a very capable, very large, very luxurious SUV.
I guess that’s also the point. In the modern era there is no space for nostalgic design and old-fashioned comforts. If the Wagoneer a luxurious 4X4 in the 60’s, it just absolutely has to be one now.
One design piece that got my immediate attention was the grill. Jeep’s design team has managed to pay homage the iconic grill Wagoneer.
“Each slot features intricate lightweight latticework, while the space above and between each of the seven slots is lit to create a signature LED design. This LED pattern forms an elegant outline to the grille, helping to emphasize the width and overall front fascia of the vehicle.“
There are quite a few elements that I absolutely adore about the new Wagoneer and chances are that I will be very impressed by it when seeing it on the road one day but my personal feeling is that it won’t be an emotional connection. It will be functional and great but my pulse won’t race when taking ownership of one as I know it would with an original Woody Wagoneer.
See what Jeep has to say below the gallery.
An all-new Grand Wagoneer Concept – introduced today in Detroit – marks the rebirth of a classic and premium American icon, providing a vision of what the modern expression of the original ultimate premium SUV can be.
The stunning and sophisticated Grand Wagoneer Concept’s debut instantly positions the storied Wagoneer name as a premium extension of the Jeep brand. Wagoneer will define “American Premium” while delivering a unique and unprecedented customer experience.
“Our new Grand Wagoneer Concept marks the first step in the rebirth of Wagoneer – a true and rare premium American icon,” said Christian Meunier, Global President of the Jeep brand – FCA. “With the electrification of each Jeep nameplate coming in the next few years, and the reintroduction of Wagoneer, we are quickly expanding into new segments and more premium space.
“Wagoneer is unquestionably rooted in the legendary Jeep brand and its unmatched heritage of leading capability, authenticity and freedom, and its return allows us to expand to a much more premium arena with new levels of design detail, and advanced safety and technology features,” Meunier added. “While Jeep vehicles bring leading capability, efficiency and performance across the mainstream SUV market, Wagoneer will ultimately become a portfolio of vehicles that will once again define ‘American Premium,’ making it the standard of sophistication, authenticity and modern mobility.”
The Grand Wagoneer Concept boasts a wide array of leading-edge premium technology – including an electrified powertrain, sophisticated 4×4 off-road systems, and a first-ever passenger screen in an SUV that is part of and an unmatched selection of upscale, premium interior features.
“For more than a quarter century, the first Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer created a new segment for American consumers as the ultimate premium SUV of its day,” Meunier said. “The new Grand Wagoneer Concept is our vision of what a modern expression of this timeless icon can be, and hints at how we will redefine and recreate the benchmark premium SUV.”
Born in America in 1962 for the 1963 model year, Wagoneer was the first four-wheel-drive vehicle mated to an automatic transmission, pioneering the first modern SUV. The 1984 Grand Wagoneer marked the beginning of the premium SUV, giving buyers an unheard-of combination of standard features, such as leather upholstery, air conditioning, AM/FM/CB stereo radios, and added sound insulation, with a dramatic increase in horsepower and torque.
Always at the forefront was a beautifully crafted, stately design that exuded class, elegance and a premium feel. That formula continues with the new Grand Wagoneer Concept.
“The original Grand Wagoneer was the first premium SUV, and its timeless design combined with the soul of Americana helped it achieve an iconic place in many hearts,” said Ralph Gilles, Head of Design – FCA. “The Grand Wagoneer Concept is inspired by the original, but with a modern interpretation of luxury and freedom. We strived to create an elegant design with a timeless silhouette, featuring countless beautifully crafted details that come together to give it an undeniable presence.
“The Grand Wagoneer Concept’s interior is spacious and features premium materials that accentuate our team’s obsession to detail and celebrates American craftsmanship,” Gilles added. “A full digital cockpit takes advantage of leading technologies that are beautifully presented with expansive and easy-to-use screens and limited buttons, allowing the focus to be placed on a pleasant and intuitive experience for the driver and passengers.”
With this new Concept, the Grand Wagoneer nameplate features – for the first time ever – a spacious third row.
Production versions of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are slated to arrive in showrooms next year. They will be reborn in America – in Warren, Mich., near downtown Detroit. As a nod to its manufacturing home and the Brand’s headquarters, the Concept’s full-pane glass roof houses a map showcasing Detroit and the surrounding area.
When the production version of the Grand Wagoneer arrives next year, it will boast leading capability courtesy of three available 4×4 systems and the renowned Quadra-Lift air suspension, premium driving dynamics with an independent front and rear suspension, unmatched towing capability, powerful performance, advanced technology, safety and connectivity, a new level of comfort and overall passenger volume – all wrapped in a stunning, elegant new design.
Grand Wagoneer Concept redefines what the ultimate premium SUV can be, boasting American craftsmanship and heritage
The Grand Wagoneer Concept encapsulates the future of the ultimate premium SUV with a focus on being both modern and authentic. A stunning ultra-premium exterior design featuring modern-yet-familiar touch points and Obsidian Black accents across the exterior create a new timeless design.
The Grand Wagoneer Concept’s exterior design is anchored by a prominent Obsidian Black-accented grille featuring the Jeep brand’s iconic seven slots. Each slot features intricate lightweight latticework, while the space above and between each of the seven slots is lit to create a signature LED design. This LED pattern forms an elegant outline to the grille, helping to emphasize the width and overall front fascia of the vehicle.
The SUV itself is fully-dipped in a stunning new Arctic Ice exterior paint and directly above the grille sits raised illuminated letters spelling out the word Wagoneer. The design team created a custom-made font for all of the Concept’s exterior lettering.
On either side of the grille sits twin bi-functional LED projector headlamps that are cradled by genuine teak wood. Premium design meets capability in the form of an Obsidian black aluminium front skid plate and accented front tow hooks.
From its side, the Grand Wagoneer Concept features a stately, distinguished profile. The Grand Wagoneer Concept SUV stands tall on 24-inch multi-spoke Obsidian-finished aluminium wheels featuring 3D-printed elements that reside just below the vehicle’s iconic trapezoidal wheel arches. A three-piece wheel cap features the Wagoneer logo suspended in acrylic.
Raised aluminium letters with copper-side accents spell out “Grand Wagoneer” on the lower third of each front door. An American flag flanks the aluminium letters and pays tribute to the Brand’s home country.
LED taillamps wrap from the rear quarter panel to the back of the vehicle and create a solid form, which allows the vehicle to achieve a more upscale appearance and complements the overall exterior design statement. A subtle rear diffuser sits below the power tailgate and aids in the vehicle’s aerodynamics by guiding air for maximum efficiency.
A full suite of exterior LED lights — including premium LED headlamps, fog lamps and taillamps — enable the Grand Wagoneer Concept to shine in any environment.
The Grand Wagoneer Concept’s elegance is on full display before the doors even open. Upon remote activation, the full suite of exterior LED lights subtly engage with a full “welcome” sequence that brings the concept vehicle to life.
A full-pane glass roof visually expands the vehicle’s interior space and admits natural light to all occupants. Flanking the full-pane glass roof on both sides are roof rails featuring four tie down loop openings. Each loop opening houses additional teak wood that is supported by bronze latticework.
Teak wood was chosen both for its elegance and durability. Once seen primarily on yachts and in the most extravagant estates, teak wood is now a premium wood of choice for designers across industries.
An interior that exudes and ultra-premium upscale environment, rich with Grand Wagoneer heritage
The Grand Wagoneer Concept represents the pinnacle of ultra-premium full-size SUV interiors with a modern American style, meticulously crafted details and elegant appointments that inspire upscale, premium travel.
True to its name, the Grand Wagoneer Concept offers a grand interior for up to seven passengers thanks to its spacious comfortable front- and second-row captain’s chairs as well as its third row – a first for the Grand Wagoneer nameplate. The relaxed atmosphere of the interior — accentuated by the use of customizable ambient lighting, both in colour and intensity — offers a liberating feeling of tranquility for everyone on board.
The spaciousness of the premium interior is enhanced by large glass windows that offer greenhouse-like views, a feature that distinguished the original Grand Wagoneer and does the same for today’s modern Grand Wagoneer Concept. As the original Grand Wagoneer provided a window to the world, the new Grand Wagoneer Concept is inspired by premium transportation and architectural design creating an exclusive environment for each passenger.
Many of the interior elements pay tribute to the rich history of the Grand Wagoneer, such as the two-spoke steering wheel. Opening the front driver-side door reveals the outer edge of the instrument panel that features an inscription — EST. 1963 — that pays homage to the first model year of the original Wagoneer.
A premium combination of sustainable materials
The Grand Wagoneer Concept provides the nameplate’s most spacious and premium interior ever delivered with refinement and elegance. Inside the cabin, an onyx glass mid-bolster runs the length of the instrument panel and gracefully accents the spaciousness of the interior. Glass is a sustainable, fully-recyclable material that provides environmental benefits and is made of an abundant natural raw material.
The onyx glass mid-bolster appears to float above a structural wing crafted from sustainable raw aluminium, which was also chosen as the key material for creating the door speakers, shift knob and vent surroundings.
This structural aluminium wing cradles a 3D inlay of heat-treated lacewood across the instrument panel and the front doors. Emerging from under the structural aluminium wing is the centre console, which flows out of the lower panel and adds a fluid design element to the spacious cabin.
The 3D wood inlay has a sculptural quality to it and reveals an elegant exposed edge on the instrument panel, doors and centre console. “Grand Wagoneer” is inscribed in raw aluminium directly into the heat-treated lacewood on the passenger side of the instrument panel.
While the original Grand Wagoneer famously featured an extensive use of wood on its exterior, the Grand Wagoneer Concept houses a vast amount of genuine heat-treated lacewood along its interior. This is one of the many examples of how the design team was able to retell a new chapter of the original Grand Wagoneer story in a modern way.
Additional sustainable interior appointments include a full suede headliner made of Dinamica — a fully recyclable premium microfibre suede — as well as premium carpets made from Thrive fibre, which is comprised of recycled content using pre- and post-consumer materials. PUR, a sustainable synthetic material, was chosen to upholster all of the seating, console, door and instrument panel surfaces in the Grand Wagoneer Concept.
A technology-rich interior for drivers and passengers alike
Nearly 45 inches of total screen span the length of the instrument panel: a 12.3-inch driver information display behind the steering wheel, a 12.1-inch horizontal touchscreen serves as the main display screen in the centre console, with a 10.25-inch horizontal comfort display touchscreen below, separated by the structural aluminium wing. Additionally, a 10.25-inch passenger screen provides the front passenger with dynamic touchscreen control at their fingertips.
Second-row passengers have 30 inches of total screen space at their disposal with a 10.25-inch comfort display screen housed on the centre console located between the two captain’s chairs. Each second-row passenger also has access to their own 10.1-inch entertainment touchscreen.
The technology-rich interior is powered by FCA’s all-new Uconnect 5 system, which delivers operating speeds that are five times faster when compared to the previous generation. Uconnect 5 is more connected, helpful, content rich and adds greater personalization, making it the most advanced Uconnect system ever. Additionally, Uconnect 5’s Android operating system lays a foundation, bringing access to a broad catalog of applications to answer the rapidly developing demand for an improved user experience (UX).
The Grand Wagoneer Concept is the only vehicle audio system in the world powered by McIntosh – another classic American luxury brand known for offering distinguished home audio systems that deliver the ultimate experience in music and film. The Grand Wagoneer Concept’s McIntosh audio system features 23 custom-designed speakers connected to a 24-channel amplifier that provides an immersive audio experience. The audio elements are designed in aluminium and gloss black, true to the design aesthetic of McIntosh’s high-end home audio systems.
Advanced premium electric-vehicle technology
The Grand Wagoneer Concept features a no-compromise plug-in hybrid electric vehicle powertrain system, in line with the Jeep brand’s plans to offer electrification options on all models in the next few years.
Electrification will modernize the Jeep brand as it strives to become the leader in “green” eco-friendly premium technology. These vehicles will be the most efficient and responsible Jeep vehicles ever, provides absolute and quiet open-air freedom while taking performance, 4×4 capability and Jeep’s fun-to-drive experience to the next level. With greater torque and immediate engine response, these electric vehicles will offer an even more fun-to-drive experience on the road and more capability than ever off the road.
Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer history
Born in 1962 for the 1963 model year, the original Jeep Wagoneer was the first four-wheel-drive vehicle mated to an automatic transmission, pioneering the first modern SUV. It was the first SUV that matched four-wheel-drive capability with state-of-the-art ride quality, a stylish appearance and premium interior. An independent front suspension was optional. Quadra-Trac®, the first automatic full-time four-wheel-drive system, was introduced in 1973.
The Grand Wagoneer debuted in 1984 and marked the beginning of the premium SUV, giving buyers an unheard of combination of standard features such as leather upholstery, air conditioning, AM/FM/CB stereo radios, added sound insulation, and wood-grain exterior trim. Considered “the gold standard of the SUV market,” Grand Wagoneer also featured a 360 c.i.d. V-8 with increased horsepower and torque and the segment’s highest towing rating.