From its introduction for the 1963 model year until the end of production in the early 1990s, the Jeep Wagoneer was the luxury off-roader, and now it’s coming back.
On September 3, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles unveiled the Jeep Grand Wagoneer concept vehicle and announced that production versions of a new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models will be in dealer showrooms in 2021.
FCA also announced the launch of the Wrangler 4xe, a third electric-powered model for the Jeep lineup.
“Our new Grand Wagoneer Concept marks the first step in the rebirth of Wagoneer – a true and rare premium American icon,” Christian Meunier, global president of the Jeep brand, said at the unveiling.
“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,” he added.
“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.
“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.”
Though work began at Willys Motors in the 1950s, the original Wagoneer was introduced by the Kaiser Jeep Corporation in late 1962 and was the first vehicle to offer 4-wheel-drive with an automatic transmission. It also was proclaimed as the new kind of station wagon, neither converted from a passenger car nor a truck, but a purpose-built vehicle with car comfort and 4×4 capability.
FCA says the new Wagoneer lineup “will deliver capable, innovative, authentic vehicles with premium design cues and technology to a new, distinctive and more affluent array of customers.”
The Grand Wagoneer concept vehicle is electric powered, and FCA says sustainable materials will be incorporated in the interiors of production Wagoneers.
“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.”
Note the lack of wood-grain siding, and long-time part of the exterior design of the Grand Wagoneer, on the new concept car.
Added FCA design leader Ralph Gilles: “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. 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.”
FCA noted that the Grand Wagoneer concept vehicle is the first Wagoneer-badged vehicle with 3-row seating.
Regarding the production models, FCA said the Grand Wagoneer will offer “class-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 best-in-class overall passenger volume – all wrapped in a stunning, elegant new design.”