The next big thing in the Jeep lineup will be "positioned significantly above Grand Cherokee."
It’s an open secret that Jeep has been desperately working on a seven-seat Grand Wagoneer to sit above the Grand Cherokee in the SUV brand’s lineup, but until now, no one realized just how high FCA might be aiming. Recognizing the cachet that the Jeep brand holds, Jeep boss Mike Manley wants to continue the upmarket push that the Grand Cherokee built as a popular winter or adventure vehicle for affluent buyers.
Mike Manley, head of Jeep Brand, spoke about the brand’s background in the premium segment in an interview with Top Gear at the Geneva Auto Show: “If I go back a few years, Grand Cherokee is positioned against [the BMW] X5. It was a premium position, and it should be rightfully in that place… I want to keep Jeep premium in the larger car segments.” Jeep certainly prices the higher trims in line with premium competitors, with a dizzying array of trims, configurations and options that will make your head spin, even if the starting price of $32,995 seems like a bargain.
The 4x4 Summit trim runs the bill up to $53,995, a few thousand more than a loaded RX350 AWD, the sales leader in the luxury midsize segment, and within a grand of the Mercedes GLE 350 4Matic. The X5 is another story, only starting in the high 50s. Jeep also plays in the same sandbox as the AMG GLE 63 and X5 M bonkers SUVs with their SRT model, and one could argue that the Trackhawk puts even the Porsche Cayenne Turbo to shame at two-thirds the price with its 707-hp, and 3.5 second sprint to 60 mph. All that is to say that the Jeep Grand Cherokee holds its own, selling more than all four of the above luxury nameplates above combined.
So which models would the Grand Wagoneer target? Manley hints that there is no limit to its upper echelon trims: “Grand Wagoneer [due in 2020] will be super premium. We’ve been working on it for several years. It has a long gestation period, and will be clearly positioned significantly above Grand Cherokee.” Forget about Lincoln and Cadillac, that sounds like the Mercedes GLS and Range Rover to us. The Navigator and Escalade nameplates might have a certain iconic status, but the luxury experience and finish isn’t at the level of the European brands and no FCA brand is better positioned to appeal to buyers with $100K to spend on a full-size, seven-seat SUV.
So just how pricey could Jeep price the Grand Wagoneer? In an earlier interview with AutoExpress, Manley said the sky is the limit: “If you look at the upper end of the segment in the US, for me, the Grand Wagoneer done well can compete all the way through this segment... pushing the car up to $130,000 to $140,000 may be possible, but we need to establish Grand Wagoneer in its own right first. That’s why I wouldn’t say there’s price ceiling.” And don't let the Chinese-market Grand Commander distract you, as that is a China-only model and clearly not the product for Jeep in North America. Think more along the lines of something to share a platform with the Maserati Levante and the rumored 7-seat large SUV coming for the Alfa Romeo brand.