Jeep Ponders Hybrid Power For Grand Wagoneer

Enormous luxobarges like the Cadillac Escalade are all the rage. The bigger and thirstier the better. In the time of Donald Trump, many people feel it is incumbent upon themselves to drive a vehicle that shouts “Mine’s bigger than yours!” every mile. Jeep feels aggrieved because it doesn’t have a gas sucking ground pounder of its own. Why should General Motors be raking in all those fat profits with no competition?

Jeep Cherokee grille

In the fall, Jeep let it be known that it is contemplating a new SUV to be known as the Grand Wagoneer. Perhaps Jeep thinks everyone who remembers the original Wagoneer — a ponderous pachyderm with the handling agility of a hippopotamus — are dead, but there are few of us still around. If a Wagoneer is good, a Grand Wagoneer has to be even better, doesn’t it? It just stands to reason.

Speaking at the Paris auto show, Jeep brand head Mike Manley told the press the Grand Wagoneer concept was “moving forward.” In theory, it  will compete with the likes of Range Rover, Porsche, and BMW. “I don’t think there’s a maximum price ceiling per se for Jeep,” Manley told Auto Express. “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.”

Manley hinted that the new Grand Wagoneer could retail in the $130,000 to $140,000 range. That’s a lot of cabbage. At the moment, the most expensive Jeep is the Grand Cherokee SRT priced at $66,795. If there is a Grand Wagoneer, it will not appear until the 2019 models roll off the assembly line. Sources suggest it will ride atop that latest version of the Grand Cherokee chassis due out at the same time.

Interestingly, $140,000 is about what a fully loaded Tesla Model X costs. Jeep execs wouldn’t be dumb enough to think people will equate its Grand Wagoneer with a Model X, would they? Sadly, the answer is seems to be yes, they are that dumb, at least when their heads are filled with dancing dollar signs.

Engine choices for the behemoth are unclear at present. Every engine in the vast Fiat Chrysler empire is a possible candidate, including those that power Maseratis. Slipping an Italian made V-8 under the hood might help star struck people pony up the bucks Jeep wants to charge for this brute. But Detroit, we have a problem. US fuel economy standards would make it hard for such a gas hog to pass EPA muster unless it is augmented with a hybrid power train.

Perhaps Chrysler could invigorate the V-6 plug-in hybrid from the Pacifica with a few more beans so it can lug around the excess avoirdupois of the Grand Wagoneer.  The next Jeep Cherokee is supposed to have a hybrid option. Maybe that power unit — whatever it is — could find its way into the Grand Wagoneer. We won’t know until Jeep makes up its mind sometime down the road.

In the meantime, the car companies are lobby the incoming Trump administration to relax all fuel economy standards in the interest of selling more cars and thereby creating more jobs. There is even a possibility that, after Myron Ebell takes a wrecking ball to the EPA, there won’t be any more CAFE regulations at all.

If that happens, Chrysler could slip a Hellcat beneath the hood of the Grand Wagoneer. If you can afford $140,000 for what is essentially a bauble to impress your friends at the country club, getting 8 to 10 mpg shouldn’t be a problem. Just as long as you have no concern for your fellow man, that is.

Source: Truth About Cars



Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.