Last week, Jeep orchestrated the unveiling of two very important models that will adapt very different stances within the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) off-road brand. The Wagoneer returns with a nostalgic name for the brand’s fans, while the Wrangler looks to the future with a plug-in hybrid engine.
By reviving the Wagoneer name, abandoned in 1991, Jeep wants both to expand its range with a new full-size SUV and also to diversify its positioning.
The model will become the manufacturer’s luxury flagship in the Grand Wagoneer version, while the Wagoneer livery will aim at a more affordable entry price. By unveiling – virtually, pandemic obliges – its new protégé in the form of a concept vehicle, Jeep has not a priori specified anything on the technical aspect of the Wagoneer, which will be marketed next year.
However, Sergio Marchionne, a former FCA boss who died in 2018, had declared in 2017 that this large SUV would be based on a ladder chassis, probably derived from that of the RAM 1500 pickup truck. There could therefore be a sharing of mechanicals between these two models.
A slightly greener Wrangler
Jeep also introduced an all-new rechargeable hybrid version of its Wrangler designed to reduce its environmental footprint. Called the Wrangler 4xe, this version essentially uses the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a small electric motor that acts as starter and alternator. A second electric motor is housed in the transmission. It powers this Wrangler when in electric mode.
Jeep estimates the range of this plug-in livery at 40 km from a 17-kWh battery. The 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of maximum torque – as much as the Grand Cherokee SRT’s 6.4L V8 – will allow for better off-road performance, according to the manufacturer. On sale as early as the dawn of 2021.