Jeep’s new Grand Wagoneer is a land yacht that’s ready to take on X7, Range Rover

By Motoring Staff Time of article published Mar 12, 2021

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DETROIT - Jeep might be a pioneer of the SUV game, but it has long missed out on one of the most lucrative segments in existence. But not anymore.

The American 4x4 brand, is launching three large Jeep SUVs this year, crowned by the Grand Wagoneer, a land yacht that will take on high end rivals like the Cadillac Escalade, BMW X7 and Range Rover. Its more affordable sibling, simply called Wagoneer, will take on products such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition.

But don’t expect to see these huge Jeep twins in South Africa any time soon as they won’t be built in right-hand drive format, although those wanting to buy a bigger Jeep might still be able to opt for the new Grand Cherokee L, which does have a RHD variant.

Interestingly, whereas the Grand Cherokee is based on a premium unibody architecture, the new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are built around a more upscale version of the Ram 1500 bakkie’s ladder-frame chassis.

The Wagoneer starts at $57 995 (R870 000) in the US, and the Grand Wagoneer starts at $86 995 (R1.3 million) although the most expensive versions will test the $110 000 (R1.65m) mark when fully loaded.

Extravagant amenities account for the eye-popping $30 000 (R450 000) price difference: Palermo quilted leather-trimmed seats, passenger and rear-seat screens, Amazon Fire TV, and a McIntosh 1375-watt premium sound system with 32 speakers. The trucks will also offer "hands-free" driving assist features and the ParkSense automated parking system.

On the engine front, however, it sticks to the old-school pushrod V8 formula, even on the base model.

Wagoneer models come with a 5.7-litre V8 petrol engine that produces 292kW and 548Nm, while the Grand Wagoneer upgrades you to a 6.4-litre V8 with 351kW and 617Nm. It also boasts a towing capacity of 4.5-tonnes.

A brand within a brand

The new models signal an evolution "into something totally new, like a brand within a brand," Christian Meunier, global head of Jeep, said in a virtual press conference last week. "This product is meant to build memories," he said. "It's meant to be, at one point of time, full of mud."

It's also leaning on the nostalgia of the original Jeep Wagoneer, whose signature wood-panelled siding is buried in the American consciousness. It will also serve as the luxury benchmark for the brand.

Jeep Wagoneer.

"Jeep has never been a luxury brand, and competing against the luxury brands or premium brands is not an easy thing," said Felipe Munoz, an analyst at Jato Dynamics, a research service focused on the auto industry. "So we'll see how they do."

IOL Motoring & Bloomberg News

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