Hooniversal Opinion: Jeep Grand Wagoneer “Concept”

Jeep Grand Wagoneer. A name rooted in the SUV and four-wheel-drive history books up there with the likes of Bronco, Suburban, and, well, the other Jeep nameplates. It’s been a while since the Grand Wagoneer nameplate has made an appearance on dealer lots. Twenty-seven years, to be exact. But with the somehow-still-increasingly-popular full-size SUV market operating at full tilt, and with both the Jeep brand and the Grand Cherokee alike doing exceedingly well, the stars aligned. This was, and is, perfect timing for Jeep and FCA to launch a Jeep-branded SUV using a historically-important nameplate. Retro is in, after all.

Enter the Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept. The full-size, three-row SUV boasts cutting-edge technology and looks that position it as a truly, or hopefully, game-changing vehicle. It’s not without weight that I say the merits are strong: With the Grand Wagoneer, FCA came out swinging.

Ignore the laughably large concept vehicle wheels and assess the “concept” at hand. The front end bears the seven-slot grille, with Wagoneer emblazoned across the top and (possibly concept-only) light-up elements present to show anyone who questions what it is, what it is. The back end looks to have a split tailgate, with a drop-down section, and lighting elements that are distinctive and refined.

Inside, screens are king. A 12.3” display serves as the gauge cluster, while a 12.1” touchscreen acts as the UConnect 5 home base above the climate and seat controls’ own 10.25” screen just below. Interestingly, and taken a bit from the Ferrari book, the front-row passenger gets a 10.25” screen for their own pleasure as well. Screens are aplenty, with more for the second row as well. It’s a tech city, and Jeep aims to please.

The surprise– and maybe it isn’t so– is that the Grand Wagoneer will be available as a plug-in hybrid. Not only that, but Wagoneer will house its own slew of vehicles, with Grand Wagoneer being the top-tier, big-dog of the bunch, and the other Wagoneer nameplates falling in below it. Think of it as Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, which isn’t a bad model to emulate. Either way, Jeep has big shoes to fill in aiming to satisfy those wishing for the new Grand Wagoneer to live up to its historical importance.

Obviously, we have feelings about the “concept” we have here. So, as is tradition, we have to voice those opinions. Let the feelings flow…

Adios Wagoneer!

So, the Grand Wagoneer. Big, important shoes to fill. And I was really hoping for the best, This isn’t it. My problem isn’t with the powertrain or tech. Plug-in hybrid? Hell, yes. Screens galore? Not my kryptonite, but will do well with the modern automotive space and the consumer world.

The problem lies in the styling. Or lack thereof. The back end is devoid of any design whatsoever. It’s a blank slate, hardly even a symmetrical version of the asymmetrical Land Rover Discovery. It’s upright and, frankly, boring. Split tailgate is fantastic, but Durango-wannabe taillights aren’t.

Speaking of Durango, the entirety of the front bumper’s bottom portion is lifted from Dodge’s – and FCA’s – own other three-row SUV. Like, directly. Above it, Jeep’s seven-slot grille is angled weirdly, curved even stranger, and a more Cherokee than even Grand Cherokee. It’s also the wrong proportion of the front end than that of the original Grand Wagoneer. But the ¾ angles, too, are wrong. It looks, in however you turn it, like a Durango, a Tahoe, a Suburban, a Navigator, and so on. Nothing about it is distinctive. The styling is a miss for me.

I don’t doubt for a second this will be a good full-size SUV with solid tech and strong powertrain options. But a Grand Wagoneer? It doesn’t hit the same notes as the original. Which is a shame, because the Grand Cherokee is amazing and this could have been the second coming of the great SUV. Hopefully, it performs better than it presents on the internet.

-Ross B

Why did it take so long? There is no reason or excuse for Jeep to not have had a larger three-row SUV a decade ago. All they had to do was take the Durango, make it squarer and add some Jeep bits to it. 

My first issue with the Grand Wagoneer concept is that it’s a concept. That’s bullshit. We’re way beyond the conceptual phase. Just give us the damn production vehicle and all its versions. No one wants to see some bedazzled version that we will never see in showrooms. 

The exterior looks okay to me. They seemed to be very careful not to create another Commander (remember the XK?). It’s muscular but classy at the same time. It’s rough but wearing a suit. Windows look to be big, which is nice. While they tried to try to incorporate some of the old school Wagoneer elements, I think they missed the overall look of the original Wagoneer. 

The interior bothers me because FCA clearly thinks that luxury is made up of screens and shiny things. No, it’s not. Luxury is supposed to be pleasant and relaxing. Luxury is supposed to be easy to use. I shouldn’t have to go through a screen menu to turn my butt warmer on. 

Overall, it’s an idea that is more than a decade late. I hope that in its street execution they focus more on it being a capable Jeep and less of a highway cruising BMW X7 competitor. The market is hot for a rugged looking three-row SUV and most makers seemed to have missed that memo

-Kamil K. 

Jeep is calling this a concept but it has to be pretty damn close to the production-spec version. I could see them dropping that light bar that runs across the nose. But I hope they keep that as it’s something pretty interesting and well done. Maybe a good thing for top-spec versions? What they do need to do on the nose though is make that grille larger.

Yes, I know we say automaker grilles have gotten comically large. But this is too aggressive of a reversal of course. Especially on a full-size SUV. It doesn’t need to be drastically bigger, just 25% would do it.

It’s good to hear it’s based on the Ram 1500. That means the ride quality will be good as the Ram drives shockingly well for a full-size truck. 

My biggest problem with this thing is that the exterior is merely ok. It’s boring, especially from that rear three-quarter angle. Nothing, outside of the seven-slotted grille says “Jeep” to me.

The inside, however, looks fantastic. This truly looks like a step above the Grand Cherokee which it should be since the price range is said to spread between $60k on up to 100k.

Will they make a Hellcat version eventually? Yes, of course. Will it be awesome and unnecessary at the same time? You bet your ass. And will people spend the likely $115k needed to buy one? That’s a tougher question to answer.

-Jeff G.

If this is a concept, it’s more likely a concept for a vehicle soon to be featured in Grand Theft Auto. No competitor will be filing a copyright infringement suit here. As for the design itself, to my eyes, there are a couple of particular flaws.

First, the grille. The trademark Jeep seven-hole design is integrated in a nice way, and the light bar looks sleek and modern. But – and this marks the first time any human has voiced this critique of a modern car – it’s too small. Luxury vehicles need some height to their grilles; this design detail creates an imposing, stately look at the Grand Wagooner currently lacks at its front end.

Next, the back end needs some help. Currently, there’s a bit too much “wagon” in the Wagoneer’s look, which is fantastic for car enthusiasts but not for actual customers. I am not suggesting the Wagoneer be “coupe-ified,” but some additional rake in the rear tailgate would improve the look immensely.

However, I’m glad this vehicle exists. I hope it brings some prestige back to American luxury SUVs, and the new Lincoln Aviator and Navigator will certainly help get this trend off the ground. Jeep appears to have nailed the interior, and I’m optimistic the driving experience will match.

-Ryan L.

If you read the Hooniverse News, first off I’m sorry. But secondly, you’ll know that I have a disdain for the modern luxury crossovers and SUVs posing as sports cars that dominate sales and influence the industry as a whole. But sometimes one comes along that is actually interesting, and for me, it’s this.

I love the way it looks. It manages to look fresh and modern and unlike the rest of the Jeep lineup, yet I don’t think it’s so far removed that it doesn’t look like it belongs in the family. The interior though looks like something that could have been taken from a BMW.

The plug-in hybrid powertrain could be good too. They’ll have plenty of space for batteries and such and Jeep has already said their new 4XE drivetrain is the most capable they’ve produced yet. Not that this will ever go deep into the wilderness as they say it can, it’s cool that it can still do it. Of course, at this price point (which I hear will be around $100K) it’s going to be bought exclusively by the rich and thus only seen at malls. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the thing.

In short, I love it. I hope rich assholes buy fewer Mercs and BMWs and buy some of these instead. If a luxury SUV is going to park an inch off my bumper at a stoplight and fill my Mustang’s mirrors with its fat fucking face, it might as well be something pretty like this.

-Greg K.

I like it, it’s good to see the big SUV is not dying and only growing, with more brands moving into the market. Well done to Jeep for bringing the Wagoneer back to the market, be it in a concept form the moment. 

Big fan of the design, the front still retains the Jeep corporate look, but I feel it loses it Jeep feel the further it moves down towards the rear. Don’t get me wrong I still like the design but It does seem to look like every other big SUV from the rear. 

The interior seems very non Jeep inside, very modern looking, and love that the front passenger gets their own separate screen built into the dash. 

Impressed that Jeep has gone down the Hybrid road with it, but with the release, at the same time, of the 4Xe you would kind of expect it. I hope the Wagoneer comes to Australia but I doubt we will see, you Americans get all the cool cars. 

-Joel S.

5 Comments

  1. I really just want to see this with a saddle brown interior and in some proper colour like a classic Grand Wagoneer. I’m equally underwhelmed by the thing, but it’s really let down by showing it off in such a bland (and frankly un-FCA and un-classic Wagoneer) colour combination. But absolutely, bad taillights, otherwise underwheming. That said, although I’d caught what I assumed to be a rolldown rear window (based on the inset instead of flush mounting), but hadn’t seen the cutline that suggests a dropdown tailgate, and that’s promising.

  2. There have been a handful of cars that received a huge sales boost from product placement in a film, such as the BMW Z3 in Goldeneye (despite the disappointing lack of 007 gadgets) or black Trans Ams in Smokey and the Bandit.

    It is very curious that the Grand Wagoneer concept debuted now. I can easily see it being ready for production by the time the Ghostbusters sequel comes out in 2021.

    https://www.syfy.com/sites/syfy/files/styles/1200x680_hero/public/wire/legacy/stay_puft_marshmallow_man_1984_01.jpg

  3. Funny, I just had this very discussion with my brother-in-law this morning. (Incidentally, he just traded his JKU for a new Gladiator Mojave. The bastard.)

    We came to the same general conclusion that seems consistent here– the styling is the problem. This truck just doesn’t say “Grand Wagoneer” to me. It doesn’t look like a Jeep. However, the current Cherokee and Renegade don’t seem like Jeeps to me, either. This looks like a Dodge, as does the Grand Cherokee.

    I was hoping for a modern take on the old SJ– charming in a rugged, country-esque way. More chiseled. Luxurious in a comfortable way, rather than feeling high-tech. This misses the mark, big time. In my opinion, the niche Jeep has carved in the market is with rugged, honest, functional designs like the JL and JT. Why throw that away with a generic vehicle that could be made by anyone? Jeep design HAS to be more than a damned seven-slot grille.

  4. Is it because Toyota and Nissan so gingerly tested the segment without decent sales to show that no one else makes a competitor to the Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade and Expedition/Navigator? GM and Ford have been cranking those things out averaging at probably $55k a pop average (or more) for a good while now. I get why FCA hasn’t done anything all new, they manage one new platform every five years or so across all brands, but even there they could have used a Ram truck chassis. This looks like they put some effort into it, so that’s good, even if it doesn’t come off as terribly special or better in any particular way than the existing alternatives.

  5. Yawn.

    The grille is nice and I do like the front lighting. The rest is a bit bland.

    And I hate all the ill fitting chrome trim around the windows and roof. Is that gap between the trim and the painted metal deliberate? It gives every window opening a circle of chrome and another circle of black. Too busy.

    I remember back in the 90s Ford, I think, used trim that was made with a thin bit of metal over a black plastic frame, I think. It meant that every piece of chrome had a black frame around it. That looks OK on your Tempo, but on a $100K SUV? No.

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