While this is technically just a concept, it shows where Jeep is planning to go not just with the new Grand Wagoneer, but with other premium SUVs in the lineup to come. As such, you could argue that the Grand Wagoneer Concept and the production vehicle that will follow from it are perhaps the most important vehicles in the Jeep lineup after the Wrangler.
So how do you like it?
In a world where the BMW twin kidneys are starting to look more like twin pancreases, where Land Rovers look like Ford Explorers (or is it the other way around?), where the various Mercedes G-Classes are looking efficient but maybe a little boring, and even Audi front ends look a little more like the steam radiator that was in my old Detroit studio apartment, Jeep had a responsibility to stand out. And to have a seven-slat grille.
It did both.
First off, there is no wood paneling, a staple of Grand Wagoneers since the days of the Conestoga Wagon. There is not even any stick-on vinyl wood paneling. Surely this was an oversight? And yet, the Wagoneer looks handsome without it. Perhaps times – and tastes – have evolved.
Next, let’s go to the front end, the most important part of any Jeep design. A Jeep has to have seven vertical slats in the grille. There’s no debate on this subject. Whether you could call those high-mounted “inlets” on the front “slats” might be open to debate, they look kind of more like squares than slats, but by golly there are seven of them, and for some design commenters, that’s all that matters in a Jeep.
Jeep calls them “slots,” not “slats,” when it says the concept’s exterior design “…is anchored by a prominent Obsidian Black-accented grille featuring the Jeep brand’s iconic seven slots. Each slot features intricate lightweight latticework, while the space above and between each of the seven slots is lit to create a signature LED design. This LED pattern forms an elegant outline to the grille, helping to emphasize the width and overall front fascia of the vehicle”
The word, “WAGONEER” is there in raised letters in a font Jeep invented just for this vehicle. When you approach the Jeep at night the letters light up, followed by the top of the grille, then the headlights, side markers and taillights. If this carries over to production, every Grand Wagoneer owner in America will be dragging his or her neighbors out of their houses at dusk to “…show you something really cool on my new Jeep.” They might even point out the chromed tow hooks.
The whole front end is a big, vertical edifice of auto, folding over to a flat hood and spilling down the very-vertical sides. There’s not a lot of what designers call “tumblehome” to this concept. The sides are as straight-up vertical as the front.
Walk around the back and the verticality continues. Jeep calls it, “a stately, distinguished profile.” That profile rides on massive 24-inch wheels, perfect for a show car, less so for the Rubicon. Towards the back the profile is punctuated by large sheets of glass. In fact, the roof, too, is one big panoramic sky view. The rear three-quarter looks downright, well, a little like the Nissan Armada in that regard.
But it all means room inside. Just as a past Chrysler/Dodge minivan used a lack of tumblehome to increase interior volume, look for Jeep to claim bragging rights on interior volume here, though that’s just a guess as specs haven’t been released yet. The interior volume looks like it will make for a more comfortable third-row of seats, too, as this Concept sports those as well.
Will it all work in a production vehicle? Yes, and it brings a distinct shape to a class that has been packed with lookalike behemoths for generations. And not just to this particular line.
“While Jeep vehicles bring leading capability, efficiency and performance across the mainstream SUV market, Wagoneer will ultimately become a portfolio of vehicles that will once again define ‘American Premium,’ making it the standard of sophistication, authenticity and modern mobility,” said Christian Meunier, Global President of the Jeep brand – FCA.
Whatever shape it is your mind’s eye sees here, you might see it across a lot of other Jeeps in the not-too-distant future. Can’t wait to see the production version.
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