Eric D. Lawrence
| Detroit Free Press
Stellantis, the automaker formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, revealed the brand-new 2022 Jeep Wagoneer or Grand Wagoneer on Thursday.The vehicles will compete with the likes of the GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.“You look at some of those vehicles (the Yukon, Escalade and Navigator), and they’re kind of black and white, or a little bit bland. That’s why we talk about the warmth of this vehicle,” said Jim Morrison, who heads the Jeep brand in North America.Thursday marks the dual unveiling of the new large SUVs being built north of Detroit. It’s also the day the company said it will begin accepting preorders for the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer with a $500 deposit at wagoneer.com on models that should be available this summer.Is the gas car on its last legs?: Welcome to the ‘golden age’ of EVsDisney Store closings 2021: Is your closest location holding a liquidation sale? See the store closures list.It marks a return for the Wagoneer name after a 30-year absence. Times have changed, however, and Wagoneer returns to a world where SUVs, including high-end ones, are ubiquitous. In an ever more competitive market, Stellantis is looking to tap into a profitable vehicle segment it has left open to others.Christian Meunier, global chief executive officer for the Jeep brand, said the segment has become plain, and Wagoneer and its premium sibling, Grand Wagoneer, will change that. “Most premium SUVs on the road today are quite invisible,” Meunier said. “We will bring a soul to the segment.”Wagoneer, he said, will be a brand within a brand.Telling, perhaps more than all the premium touches, all the leather and wood and metal, that these vehicles represent something new for Jeep is the apparent absence of the Jeep name in its typical prominent spots. Instead, the company references the seven slot-grille, “hinting at family ties.” When asked whether the Jeep logo is anywhere, company officials noted that they’re proud of Jeep and said there would be some Easter eggs, little hidden references, to signify the connection.Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will be 6 inches taller and 10 inches longer than the three-row Grand Cherokee L.Meunier said the Wagoneers will share “very little” content with the Grand Cherokee. The Wagoneers are also a body-on-frame construction versus the Grand Cherokee’s unibody. Price will certainly put the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer in new company. A 2022 Wagoneer will start at $57,995, the Grand Wagoneer will start at $86,995, and a fully-loaded Grand Wagoneer Series III will top $111,000. Prices don’t include the $2,000 destination charge.The Wagoneer will offer a 5.7-liter V8, rated at 392 horsepower and 404 pound-feet of torque, including a 48-volt battery assist; the Grand Wagoneer will come with a 471-horsepower, 6.4-liter V8, rated at 455 pound-feet of torque. Both engines, which are made in Saltillo, Mexico, will be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the company said. Some versions will have the ability to tow up to 10,000 pounds.Fuel economy ratings aren’t yet available.The overall appearance is also touted as something beyond typical, with a new exterior design that “is confident, crafted with a wide stance, and features large architecturally drawn windows for enhanced outward visibility.”The features and offerings are extensive. As for the luxury extras, these vehicles are designed to be steps above anything else in the Jeep lineup. That covers everything from 24-way power front seats with massage setting on the Grand Wagoneer to a third row of seating that can recline or fold flat. A “tip n’ slide” feature allows entry to the third row even if a child seat is in the second. Seating for eight is possible depending on the seating choice in the second row.Leather trimmed seats are standard, but top models offer “an even more opulent Palermo leather trimmed seating option with quilting and leather-wrapped instrument panel, consoles and door panels with accent stitching.”The Uconnect 5 infotainment system offers 10- or 12-inch digital displays with an Android operating system and over-the-air updates that “seamlessly communicates” with an industry-first Amazon Fire TV for Auto, the company said.In a nod to distraction worries, a special film will prevent the driver from being able to watch what the front passenger has on his or her screen, and entertainment features in the center screen will only be viewable in park.The stereo also gets a significant upgrade, with a high-end McIntosh audio system in several versions.A variety of advanced driver assistance systems will be available at launch or later on, including head-up display, adaptive cruise control, active driving assist and night vision, according to the company.The dealer and service experiences are also supposed to be special. For instance, dealers “earn the chance to host Wagoneer customers” if they have a “Customer First” award for excellence by J.D. Power and customers can expect five years of “worry-free maintenance.”When asked about the possibility of street racing or trail-rated versions, officials said only that there would be more to come on additional variants.Most trims are four-wheel drive, but there are a couple of two-wheel drive offerings as well.Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Eric D. Lawrence on Twitter: @_ericdlawrence.