"We're finding more and more people want the combination of the best capability and the best luxury," Morrison told Automotive News. "This new Grand Wagoneer will bring new people to our dealerships, bring new people to the brand and really be a good growth opportunity for us. A lot of people that wanted this type of luxury couldn't even buy American, and we're so proud to actually have something that we can offer these customers."
The Wagoneer, with a starting price of $59,995 for the Series I, will compete in what Jeep calls the heart of the large SUV market. But the base model won't be available at launch. The lowest-priced option for early buyers will be the $69,995 Series II 4x2 model. Morrison said Jeep is prioritizing the top-end models first to meet customer demand.
The Grand Wagoneer, opening at $88,995, can top $111,000 when fully loaded. All prices include shipping.
Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions, said Jeep buyers are "upscale enough to appreciate models in this price range, but finding the huge number expected will be tough."
Fiorani said buyers who grew up on the Grand Cherokee in the 1990s have financially matured to the point of wanting to drive luxury Jeep models like these. The brand has been losing these buyers to Cadillac and Lincoln and even Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, he said.
It "sees the money generated by the other models in this space and it just makes sense to move Jeep into the mix," Fiorani said in an email. "Not only will these models appeal to American Jeep fans, but buyers in a number of export markets will find them nice additions to their fleets."
Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader, says there's pent-up demand for Jeep to capitalize on with the nostalgia emanating from the Wagoneer name.
"It's one of those folklore-type vehicles, a 'too-bad-they-don't-make-that-anymore' vehicle from the past that gets a certain group of buyers excited," Moody said in an email. "With the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, Jeep is rounding out it's totally logical move upmarket. All the Gen Xers who loved their Wrangler but have matured and want something nicer — and notably larger — the new Wagoneers are just the ticket. And, most importantly, the Jeep badges and branding are hard to miss."