Jeep president Mike Manley is still pushing his brand to develop a seven-passenger crossover at the top of the model range.
“Our priority is above the Grand Cherokee,” Manley told Auto Express. “That car will be a full-size, seven seater that’ll be bigger than the old [2006-2010 Jeep] Commander and will be called Grand Wagoneer.”
The idea of a seven-passenger model that resurrects the Jeep Grand Wagoneer nameplate has been brewing for some time. At the 2011 Detroit auto show, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters, “It’s time we gave the market an upper-scale Grand Wagoneer… You’ll see it in January 2013.” Needless to say, the car never materialized, and Marchionne’s deadline came and went without a new Grand Wagoneer.
At the 2013 Detroit auto show — where Marchionne once promised we’d see the Jeep Grand Wagoneer — Jeep’s Manley reiterated that such a model was still in the cards. “It’s very much alive. There’s definitely room for a three-row model within the range, and I’d like to pursue it as soon as possible,” he told Automobile. “We won’t see anything by 2015.”
Two weeks later, a slideshow issued to Chrysler’s investors showed the Grand Wagoneer in the company’s product plans. Although it wasn’t named, a chart clearly showed an all-new Jeep model that would debut in 2015.
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer will almost certainly be built on a variant of the platform used for the Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango, but few other details are clear. One thing’s for sure: it will be a far nicer vehicle that the old seven-passenger Jeep Commander. In 2011, CEO Marchionne made it clear to Automotive News he was no fan of the Commander: “That car was unfit for human consumption. We sold some. But I don’t know why people bought them.”
In fact, Jeep officials want to send the new seven-passenger model so far upmarket that it could compete with German and British luxury SUVs. “I don’t want to put a ceiling on it,” Manley told Automobile in January about the upper limit for the Grand Wagoneer’s price tag. “If you think of the prices that competitors are asking, ranging from $65,000 up to $100,000-plus — albeit at small volumes — I have no doubt that, with the right kind of vehicle, we can play with those kinds of spenders.”
Smaller Jeep In The Future?
Speaking to Auto Express, Manley also confirmed the possibility of a smaller Jeep below the newly introduced 2015 Renegade. Though he said such a model wouldn’t arrive until after the Grand Wagoneer debuts, Manley said, “An A [segment] SUV is something we’ll look at… There’s relentless pressure to reduce CO2 and there’s much more for us to do.”
One big stumbling block: Jeep doesn’t have a platform it could use to build a smaller crossover. Even building the 2015 Jeep Renegade meant extensively modifying the Fiat 500L’s “small wide” chassis. “We couldn’t make an SUV off of ‘small wide’ as you can’t get the ground clearance… It was completely changed by Jeep engineers,” he said.