The news on the return of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer swings wildly depending on the moment. It started off as simple rumors that were later confirmed by Jeep. Fans threw confetti, until news of the Grand Wagoneer’s cancellation surfaced. The latest news isn’t a cancellation, but a delay.
It was last summer when reports had the Grand Wagoneer returning for the 2019 model year. The upscale, three-row vehicle was going to be the pinnacle of the brand and was set to have a rather high price tag.
Pricing was said to be in the neighborhood of $130,000 for a 2018 model year Grand Wagoneer. The Jeep folks talked about their new project as a luxury SUV set to compete with the likes of Range Rover, Porsche, and BMW.
Less than six months after the news first broke, rumors took a turn and had the car completely canceled. It all had to do with the platform, which was expected to be a stretched version of the next Grand Cherokee’s platform. What seemed like a good idea turned out to be one that didn’t actually work. That was enough to kill the car. But wait, there’s more.
The latest news has the car simply delayed rather than canceled outright. It’s part of a reassessment of how FCA is moving forward with development of its larger vehicles, not only the Grand Wagoneer.
Ram’s heavy-duty pickup was on tap for a redesign for 2018, but that won’t be happening either. Instead, the truck will get only a refresh. Why they’re doing this is a mystery as there’s no official comment from FCA, but there’s speculation aplenty. It all comes down to debt.
CEO Sergio Marchionne is working to get rid of $7 billion of debt before he retires in 2018. His plan includes revamping production in North America to focus on Ram trucks and Jeep SUVs along with Alfa Romeo. Sedans like the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 don’t fit the new mix.
Ram heavy-duty trucks come from Saltillo, Mexico, and retooling that plant will cause supply delays. If they do a refresh instead of introducing an all-new Ram heavy-duty, then the supply stays consistent and the money from selling those trucks keeps rolling in. The danger comes from the competition, which is newer and sexier than what Ram is offering. They could end up losing sales with this strategy so it’s a gamble.
The Grand Wagoneer was set for development alongside the next generation of the Grand Cherokee. They would have built it at the Warren truck plant, but once again that would involve re-tooling the factory. It was another expensive proposition.
FCA has yet to say why they’re putting everything on hold or how long that hold will last. In the meantime, all Jeep Grand Wagoneer fans can do is savor their memories of those vintage, faux-wood-panelled Grand Wagoneers of old.