It's been eons since the Jeep Grand Wagoneer was first announced. What was the hold-up?
A full nine years have elapsed since Jeep first announced the return of the Grand Wagoneer to its SUV lineup. To put that into context, the announcement first came during Barack Obama's first term as US president. Amazon stock was only valued at around $100 a share. No one had ever heard of Cardi B.
Yet the luxurious three-row was only debuted, in concept form, earlier this month. What gives? According to FCA's Head of Design, Ralph Gilles, it simply wasn't the right time to execute such an ambitious project.
"Had this vehicle been born 10 years ago, I don't think we would have executed it as well," he told MotorTrend in a recent interview. "There is luxury in every square centimeter of this vehicle. My team 10 years ago wasn't ready for that."
Gilles said that "a lot of things had to align" to make the Jeep Grand Wagoneer happen, both with regard to his team developing the skills and know-how to do the vehicle justice, and what platforms they had at their disposal. The automaker tried to get the Grand Wagoneer out sooner; somewhere, there's a warehouse full of early Grand Wagoneer designs dating back to the mid-1990s, reflecting Chrysler's constant "do we or don't we?" with regard to releasing a large, premium Jeep SUV. None of them ever got the green light.
"I think we ended up with the right one," Gilles said. "Some of [the designs] were trying too hard to be retro or trying too hard to be spaceships. We went with something much more timeless. I think the design is elegant."
Late though the Grand Wagoneer may be, Jeep is still expecting success with the large SUV, banking on the fact that the segment is stable enough that "our customers are still ready for it," in Gilles's words.
The new Jeep Grand Wagoneer will be not only the flagship vehicle for the Jeep brand, but for FCA as a whole, with features and materials rivaling those available in Cadillac's hot-selling Escalade large SUV. If that's too rich for you, a more mainstream Jeep Wagoneer model will join it on the market, with a price tag expected to be some $40,000 lower.
But if you're holding your breath for a throwback "woody" version with wood panels on the body sides, you should probably just go ahead and inhale. FCA "thought about it for about two minutes," Gilles told MotorTrend, but "there was no credible way to do it without actually cheapening the vehicle."