DETROIT – Fiat Chrysler's long-awaited Jeep Grand Wagoneer SUV will top $100,000 – likely making it the brand's highest priced vehicle as it attempts to compete against the Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover and others.
The new large SUV will be the stablemate of another model called the Wagoneer, which will start at about $60,000 when the vehicles go on sale next year, according to Christian Meunier, global president of Jeep. The six-figure price tag for the Grand Wagoneer will be for a fully loaded model, he said.
"It's clearly the return of a premium American icon," Meunier said during a media event ahead of Thursday's unveiling of a concept version of the resurrected SUVs. "Wagoneer will expand to become a portfolio of vehicles that will redefine American premium while delivering a unique customer experience."
The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer names were previously used by Jeep for large SUVs from 1963 until 1991. The company had promised to resurrect the Wagoneer name for nearly a decade as a way to better compete in the highly profitable large SUV segment.
The SUVs will be offered in two lengths and compete in the mainstream and luxury SUV segments, Meunier said. It's a similar strategy to how General Motors, the industry leader in large SUVs, sells its vehicles across the Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac brands.
The only other Jeep to top $100,000 is the current Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, a low volume, high-performance version of the SUV with Fiat Chrysler's Hellcat V8 engine.
It's unclear whether the Grand Wagoneer will be a separate model or a high-end version of the Wagoneer, which was discontinued in 1983. The company declined to provide additional details about how the vehicles will be positioned. It's possible the Grand Wagoneer will be a premium version of the Wagoneer, as GM's Denali trim is for its GMC brand.
"We see significant opportunity for Wagoneer as a premium extension of the Jeep brand," said Trevor Dorchies, a Fiat Chrysler spokesman. "Jeep is unquestionably the foundation of Wagoneer, but Wagoneer will go beyond that into more premium segments."
The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will be produced at the automaker's Warren Truck plant in suburban Detroit.
The Grand Wagoneer concept represents the future design and technology of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs. Concept vehicles often also set a new design direction for the brand overall.
Meunier said "a lot of things" on the concept will make it into the production versions of the vehicles next year. The three-row concept pays tribute to its heritage while featuring modern designs as well as new technologies and displays on the vehicle's interior.
"We strived for a level of premium executive that we've never done as a company," said Ralph Gilles, head of design for Fiat Chrysler.
On the exterior, the SUV has large windows that form a greenhouse around the vehicle, which was a distinguishable feature of the original Grand Wagoneer. It also includes classic Jeep design elements with modern twists, including the brand's traditional seven-slotted grille with lights in between the slots as well as a headlight-to-headlight light bar above them.
The seven-passenger concept vehicle is powered by a plug-in hybrid electric system, a nod to the brand's plans to electrify every Jeep nameplate by 2022. Meunier declined to comment if such a powertrain would be available on the vehicles next year.
Unlike the original Grand Wagoneer, wood paneling – a well-known characteristic of the former SUV – is not featured on the sides of the concept. However, Fiat Chrysler designers did include teak wood in the vehicle's headlights, roof tie downs and interior, which resembles a digital cockpit more than a traditional Jeep.
On the inside of the vehicle, wood is included on the doors, dash and center control panel. The front interior of the vehicle includes four screens, including a first-ever 10.25-inch passenger screen in an SUV, according to Fiat Chrysler.
The passenger screen features privacy film as to not distract the driver, officials said.
As a nod to its manufacturing home and the brand's headquarters, the Grand Wagoneer concept's full-pane glass roof features a map of Detroit and the surrounding area.
For audio, the Grand Wagoneer concept's McIntosh audio system features 23 custom-designed speakers connected to a 24-channel amplifier.
Jeep also unveiled a new plug-in hybrid electric version Thursday of its flagship Wrangler SUV.
The hybrid still has an electric powertrain in addition to a traditional internal combustion engine. It is the first of its kind for Jeep in the U.S. The vehicle will feature a "4xe" badge, a play on Jeep's reputation as a 4x4 off-road brand.
The 2021 Wrangler 4xe is capable of nearly 400 miles on a single charge and tank, including up to 25 miles of pure-electric driving, according to officials. When not in electric mode, the vehicle is powered by 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
It is expected to begin production at a plant in Toledo, Ohio, in December, followed by availability in U.S. showrooms shortly after that as well as Europe and China by early 2021.