Better Late Than Never: There's Probably Plenty of Room for a Full-size Jeep SUV

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
better late than never theres probably plenty of room for a full size jeep suv

The Jeep Wagoneer looms. So does its ultra-lux sibling, the Grand Wagoneer. A seemingly obvious product that Fiat Chrysler didn’t get around to developing until late last decade, the full-size, Ram 1500-based SUV should reach buyers in 2021.

Will they line up for a chance to take home a vehicle bearing this heritage-steeped nameplate? Probably. America hasn’t lost its penchant for large vehicles, and if you think a shattered economy will push buyers into something else, think again.

A depressed economy will lead to a reduction in sales volumes, but bigger, more expensive vehicles seem to avoid disproportional pain during such downturns. Assuming there’s a lineup of smaller and cheaper vehicles funding their existence, that is — and that’s certainly the case with FCA, as well as rivals General Motors and Ford.

In 2019, with the economy burning bright and no sign of turmoil on the horizon, domestic full-size SUVs accounted for 2.15 of all U.S. new vehicle sales. Two automakers with a platform apiece, and eight models split unevenly between them, sold 368,291 high-margin vehicles to the American public, even with climate change as the country’s topmost issue and electric vehicles making inroads (while gobbling up a ridiculous amount of digital page space).

A new Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator for 2018 helped Ford boost its share of the domestic full-size SUV segment, with the aging Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/XL, and Cadillac Escalade/ESV slipping for a second year in a row.

Total volume of this cohort topped that of all fully electric vehicles on sale in the U.S. by about 50 percent in 2019. Two companies, two platforms shared with other lucrative models. The segment’s not going anywhere.

It’s a resilient one, too. In 2009, no one’s idea of a good sales year, these same eight models accounted for an ever-so-slightly greater share of the country’s annual new vehicle volume (2.16 percent), and that was with seriously depressed fleet orders that typically add wind to the rough-and-tumble Tahoe’s sails. Market in disarray, jobs gone, but big, gas-sucking vehicles still managed to hold on to their share of the market.

Barring some kind of Explorer/Aviator quality disaster right out of the gate, the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer will arrive with appeal in tow. For one, it boasts a familiar nameplate, sold under a heritage-soaked brand Americans love. It’s based on a vehicle that’s very well received by the buying public and motoring press alike. Spy photos reveal it borrows that model’s 12-inch infotainment screen. And an independent rear suspension allows to match Ford and (for 2021) GM on that front.

Power won’t be in short supply, what with the FCA parts bin containing 5.7 and 6.4-liter Hemi V8s, with the EPA (potentially) kept at bay with engines like the eTorque 3.6-liter mild hybrid V6. FCA says there’ll be an “electrified” version, and they probably aren’t talking about a starter-generator that boosts efficiency by a MPG or two.

Who knows what kind of volume Jeep has in mind for its upcoming biggies, but concerns raised that Jeep may have missed the boat on launching a new full-sizer seemed premature in 2019 and still seem that way today.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Join the conversation
2 of 11 comments
  • Karonetwentyc Karonetwentyc on Jun 12, 2020

    I'd just like to see Jeep return from being a brand (as opposed to manufacturer) appealing to lifestylers wanting to build a SICK JEEP BRAH. Unfortunately, it's too late to pull that particular train back into the station. So, any news on when can we get an Angry Eyes grille for the Wagoneer twins straight from Mopar?

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jun 13, 2020

    Why show the old Wagoneer? It was actually smaller than the current Grand Cherokee, in length, width, and wheelbase. What Jeep needs is the size of a 1950 Dodge Commercial woodie station wagon.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?