Jeep Grand Wagoneer will not be a great success

Reviews are breaking today about the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer. When Jeep revives one of its most historic full-size nameplates from a three-decade hibernation, it receives very positive press coverage. But Jeep is in for a world of disappointment in a couple of years.

But with the death of Grand Wagoneer in 1991, the SUV market had changed. Competition came from all sides, on the domestic side as the Suburban became increasingly luxurious, and from Europe in the form of the Range Rover and (gray market) Mercedes G-Wagen. Fast forward to today, and the competition is even tougher. Almost all exclusive brands have a full-size luxury SUV, regardless of whether they are of crossover or truck origin.

That hibernation from 1991-2022 is a problem for Grand Wagoneer. Jimmy Dallas and Carol are dead or have moved on to one of the many other prestigious luxury suvs. Domestic, European, Japanese, choose yourself! People under the age of 35 or so who are not interested in car history do not know what the Grand Wagoneer name means. Reviving the brand is practical for luxury SUV purposes, but they waited to long to do it. I will not harp more on that point, I’m just saying that Chrysler / FCA / Daimler / Stellantis have lost the SUV ball since 1994 when the new Ram 1500 lacked an SUV sibling. They continue to release this ball today.

Grand Wagoneer is also too expensive. And I mean it, given its brand, lack of prestige among consumers and, frankly, its dealer network. As Tim quoted in his review, Grand has a base price of $ 86,995 and climbs to $ 106,000 for a fully charged Series III sample after destination fee. It’s full-lux pricing, in a league with the likes of the Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX, and it’s more expensive than any trim of the Lincoln Navigator. What is the driving force behind this award? It’s based on a Ram truck platform (and it’s good) and shares a Ram V8 (also good). But Grand Wagoneer simply does not have the name knowledge that Jeep thinks it has. And when luxury customers walk into a Jeep showroom and talk to Chad Foursquare and are offered a small bottle of Aquafina, they will not feel particularly luxurious.

I think Jeep is painting itself into the corner of model differentiation problems. There are now two Grand Cherokees (standard and L) on a unibody platform as always, and two Wagoneers (regular and Grand) based on the Ram 1500. To most observers, these all look the same, and they are all “Jeep SUVs”. “”, except that Wagoneers cost $ 35,000- $ 65,000 More than Cherokees that look the same and are about the same size. “Ah, but Wagoneers are trucks and have nicer interiors,” you will say. Value that any kind of price jump though?

The new Grand Wagoneer needed wooden boards on the sides if it was to detract from the distinctive image of the old Grand Wagoneer. The styling signals are a bit too literal where they should not be (pillars, all chrome details) for Jeep not to take it all the way and beat some wood on the side. Grand Wagoneer would have been in a class of its own at that time. Big, bold and very American. They took back an icon (too late) and then made it half bad. Choosing white as its promotional color was also a mistake as it looks like a large floppy drive-like choice. I would never think it was truck-based, but rather a Grand Cherokee L-XL installation.

This leads me to Jeep’s final disappointment. With sky-high prices and a crowded field of bonafide luxury competition, I predict slower sales than Jeep expects. It will be sold at the debut to some people who want to be different, do not want a Range Rover and who are willing to put up with service at their Jeep-Eagle-AMC-Plymouth dealership in the local car mall. There will also be some money-rich AMC retirees willing to pay for the Grand Wagoneer name and park it next to their Matador in the garage. But these people will only buy one. In a couple of years, I look forward to a big rock wall when it comes to the sale of Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. At that point, Jeep will again remove the icon. Maybe this project can create full size ChryCo should have has done all the time: a seven-passenger, three-row Ramcharger and Ramcharger XL.

[Images: Tim Healey / TTAC, AMC]

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