Before people started towing catamarans with loaded Chevrolet Suburbans, before any wizened English farmer conceived that such as thing as a Range Rover would ever exist, people of a certain stripe like to strut in the Jeep Wagoneer and its lavish variant, the wood-side, luggage rack-bedecked Grand Wagoneer. If you’re one of the handful of the more recently born who has no idea what we’re discussing, the original Wagoneer, which lasted in various forms into the 1980s, is the Rodney Dangerfield of historically significant light trucks. It’s based on the station wagon that Kaiser introduced in 1963, which in turn supplanted the ancient Jeep station wagon that had been trundling around since 1948. The Wagoneer, as Kaiser dubbed it, grew in complexity and appointments as Jeep joined the American Motors portfolio. It’s a very big part of the reason why Chrysler bought AMC, and then reimagined the big off-roader as the Grand Wagoneer in 1984, becoming a near-burlesque of traditionalist American station wagon themes.
Chuckle if you wanna, but the facts are that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer made a lot of money for both AMC and Chrysler, and that AMC was selling a premium-level 4×4 station wagon 24 years before the first Range Rover landed on these shores. So take that. You therefore can’t blame Stellantis, the company that builds Chrysler products today, to rekindle some of that high-profit bonfire. It’s announced plans to reintroduce both models during the second half of this year, a strategy that Stellantis’ component firm Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has teased more than once. The late FCA chief Sergio Marchionne voice intentions back in 2015 to revive the luxury wagons. Their WS platform is actually based on the fifth-generation Ram 1500 pickup chassis, which will made the Wagoneers thematic brethren to the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition and Nissan Armada. There’s no hybrid version, but the Grand Wagoneer will top out with 6.4-liter V-8 power that mates cylinder deactivation with variable cam timing. And you’ll notice that there’s not a micron of fake wood – the actual industry term is Di-Noc – anywhere in sight. Instead, both vehicles’ multiple trim levels will be led by the Grand Wagonner Obsidian. Say what? We had to look up the word, which refers to a smooth, naturally occurring glass that forms when volcanic rock cools following an eruption. You read it here first, which may also stand as a hint of the premium’s Jeep’s coming interior treatment.