Escalade be Warned: Jeep Unveils Grand Wagoneer Concept

It’s not the production model, but it’s the closest we’ve gotten so far to Jeep’s returning full-size SUV. Sport-utility family, to be clear, as Jeep plans to offer its body-on-frame rig in a variety of flavors.

Entry-level Wagoneer will give way to the high-zoot Grand Wagoneer — a vehicle Fiat Chrysler claims will redefine “American premium” by offering a plug-in hybrid variant and a host of “ultra-premium leading-edge features and technology.”

Alas, the real thing remains distant. Scheduled to go into production in the second quarter of 2021 at Warren Truck Assembly, the actual Grand Wagoneer is heralded by a “vision of what [the] production vehicle could be.”

Feast your eyes.

Certainly, the production Grand Wagoneer will be packaged similarly to the concept; both are meant to be hulking, three-row SUVs with obvious Jeep heritage splayed across the front end. It remains to be seen whether the unexpectedly slim seven-slot grille keeps its LED accents. The shiny latticework might remain. Inside, the fully digital cockpit, if FCA can pull it off, would serve as a fitting rebuke to Cadillac’s new-for-2021 Escalade and its IMAX-worthy curved dash screen.

Will front-seat passengers really be able to fiddle with their own screen? Time will tell. Between the four screens (driver information display, over-and-under center stack touchscreens, and passenger-side dash), there’s nearly 45 inches of LCD up front. It certainly looks like backseat passengers won’t want for audiovisual distraction, either, what with the twin 10.1-inch touchscreens in the second row. A new Uconnect 5 infotainment system ropes together all of these screens.

Will front-seat passengers really be able to fiddle with their own screen? Time will tell. Between the four screens (driver information display, over-and-under center stack touchscreens, and passenger-side dash), there’s nearly 45 inches of LCD up front. It certainly looks like backseat passengers won’t want for audiovisual distraction, either, what with the twin 10.1-inch touchscreens in the second row. A new Uconnect 5 infotainment system ropes together all of these screens.

Elsewhere, Obsidian black grille accents, as well as an aluminum front skid plate in the same shade, could easily appear on the actual Grand Wagoneer. Those monstrous 24-inch wheels likely will not. The cabin, furnished in rich leather with raw aluminum and onyx glass trim and highlighted by ambient lighting, seems to be chasing the Lincoln Navigator Black Label. It’s a level of refinement one wouldn’t normally associate with the Jeep brand.

There’s even teak to be found outside the cabin, surrounding the LED headlamps and making up part of the roof rails. You don’t want for a yacht with this concept.

“We strived to create an elegant design with a timeless silhouette, featuring countless beautifully crafted details that come together to give it an undeniable presence,” said FCA design boss Ralph Gilles in a statement.

Viewed from the rear, the Grand Wagoneer Concept’s LED taillamps (a strong horizontal line that doesn’t quite touch in the middle, underscored by four lenses on each side, looks understated and modern, but the very upright rear glass and D-pillars seems somewhat out of place. Yes, the original Wagoneer family sported utilitarian styling and upright greenhouses, but the added length here, when coupled with the tall rear and blacked-out roof, seems off. Maybe it’s just this writer’s eyes. After all, GM’s full-size trio aren’t exactly coupe material.

Still… it’s possible to be too minimalist when dealing with this amount of real estate.

Sadly, Jeep wasn’t in the mood to share powertrain details, though it did state that the production vehicle will be able to drive electrically for certain intervals, as all Jeep models will within a few years. As stated before, the pinnacle of Jeep will come in many grades.

“When the production version of the Grand Wagoneer arrives next year, it will boast leading capability courtesy of three available 4×4 systems and the renowned Quadra-Lift air suspension, premium driving dynamics with an independent front and rear suspension, unmatched towing capability, powerful performance, advanced technology, safety and connectivity, a new level of comfort and overall passenger volume – all wrapped in a stunning, elegant new design.”

That’s FCA’s take on it. Now, what’s yours?

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

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