A new large seven-seat SUV that will be known as the Jeep Grand Wagoneer is set to give the US off-road specialist brand a rival to the European luxury brands.
The development of the long-awaited range-topping model that will sit above the Grand Cherokee in the Jeep line-up and offer a three-row, seven-seat layout is progressing according to plan, according to Jeep president and CEO, Mike Manley, who told CarAdvice at the 2014 Paris motor show the Grand Wagoneer will play an important role when it launches in 2018.
“Is it close? Yes, it has moved forward really quite well,” he said of the model, which was detailed as part of the company's investor day details in May 2014, where Jeep stated the new model would sit above an all-new version of the Grand Cherokee (due in 2017).
Manley indicated that the Grand Wagoneer model would give Jeep a vehicle that will push it to a new level in terms of its price and positioning, but that he feels Jeep is ready to fight against prestige offerings from BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover.
“Fortunately with Grand Cherokee we’ve proven that we can compete at the very premium end of the segment,” he said.
“The cross-shop that we have with BMW, for example, is phenomenal. In the US our premium end is our number one cross-shopped vehicle,” he said of the flagship Grand Cherokee models.
“It wasn’t even on the scale [in 2010 when the new-generation Grand Cherokee launched]. In fact in 2010 it wasn’t even on the scale with the new vehicle – it was only when we introduced Summit and Overland that we began to prove that we could compete right at the very premium end,” Manley said.
Under the new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles umbrella, Jeep will potentially have something of an internal fight on its hands at the top end of the market against a new Maserati Levante SUV set to be based on Jeep’s hardware.
However, Manley suggested that he’s not worried about the Maserati model cutting Jeep’s grass.
“I think when you think about the two brands – Maserati and Jeep – I think they have very, very different missions in life. I have zero sleepless nights about the launch of their vehicle,” he said.
“Range Rover is a different story. Range Rover and Jeep have historically competed. Some of that competition has not been so evident because we’ve either been through product portfolio changes, or they’ve been through product changes. But they are the only other pure SUV brand in the world. So they will always be competition with Jeep,” Manley said.
“Part of my plan is there’s space for us above Grand Cherokee. I’ve always talked about Grand Wagoneer, and that for me is a big focus, and will fill out the brand on the top end.
“I think that vehicle – and obviously I have intimate knowledge of what it is – can very, very effectively compete with premium SUVs. When it comes, obviously.”
We expect to learn more about the Jeep Grand Wagoneer in 2015.