Why the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept is Better Than You Think

Why the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept is Better Than You Think

Not too jazzed about the new 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer concept and its design? Get in line, bub. After an interminable decades-long wait for the biggest and most resplendent of Jeeps to return, it seems like the new three-row concept hints at a future production model that won’t quite capture our imagination like the absolutely fabulous Wagoneer did in the 1960s through early 1990s. Instead of a retro-themed glam-hauler, it looks like we’re getting a three-row, Jeepified Durango lookalike with a glitzed-up interior. What a disappointment.

Let’s take a look at FCA’s—now Stellantis’—near unbroken chain of enthusiast-forward vehicles in recent years. Though long, long in the tooth, the Challenger and Charger continue to be some of the sweetest muscle car deals on the market today, with a cornucopia of bright colors, graphics, loud exhausts, and absurd power figures. Loud engines! Aggressive styling! Hellcat! Superbee! Shaker! Hell yeah! USA! USA!

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer: Power to the People

The power-mad Durango SRT and new Durango SRT Hellcat have arrived, followed by the latest iteration of the Ram 1500. By all accounts, the new Ram is an excellent truck that ticks all the boxes of what customers might want, especially if what they want is a Hellcat engine. Yes, just days before the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer concept debuted, the new Ram 1500 TRX dropped on the unsuspecting world, bringing a real fight to the Ford F-150 Raptor’s doorstep. Dude, they put the Hellcat engine in a truck! Are you even listening?

This is to say nothing of the monumental impact the new Ford Bronco has had on the design and marketing sector of the automotive industry, the ripples of which likely won’t be felt until another generation of truck and SUVs. The Bronco blew all of our collective expectations clear out of the water, and set the precedent that yes, automakers can build scaled-up modern interpretations of venerable classics. Jeep’s response to the crashing wave of Bronco media was the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 concept, which finally shoved a V-8 under the Wrangler’s square front hood. And while that move did little to fizzle Ford’s party, it showed Wrangler diehards the Jeep team still has its ear to the ground.

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept Design: Something’s Gotta Give

So, following a glut of hit after hit after hit, what happened with the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer concept design? How could Jeep fumble this so badly? That’s easy—it didn’t. Though the Grand Wagoneer pictured here remains a concept for now, this is absolutely, positively what a modern Grand Wagoneer was always going to be, despite arriving in a veritable tornado of supercharged V-8 fan-service monsters.

I’m not about to go through the entire history of the Wagoneer—our ever-anorak Aaron Gold already did a much better job at that—but realize that the Wagoneer was always the big, lumbering, tech-laden family-hauler during all three decades of its existence. At one point, there was even an ultra-luxe version called the Super Wagoneer that came standard with tony features like power steering, power brakes, power tailgate, tilt steering wheel, A/C, and mag wheels.

Eventually, the Wagoneer and the even cusher Grand Wagoneer became beloved beachside haulers for the families of Nantucket and the Hamptons, especially as the Wagoneer (SJ) was a bigger, more powerful, and more robust on-road cruiser than the contemporary Range Rover. In the end, that’s all it ever was—a well-appointed, preppy 4×4 couch that excelled at fitting in on the front of a postcard trumpeting the American Dream.

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept Design: Better Than You Think

Now, looking over the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer concept and its design, it looks like it fits neatly into that profile, minus perhaps the preppy and American Dream attributes. But, on the ultra-luxe 4×4 couch front, the new three-row Jeep should be exactly what the old truck was, and more. Bummed about the slab-sided anodyne styling? Yeah, I’ll give you that—Jeep could have gussied up its biggest star a bit more. But go look at the old Wagoneers—of any year—and tell me those angled, of-the-period bodylines would translate well into today’s slurry of safety and efficiency standards. They wouldn’t.

Don’t you dare bring up the Bronco, either; as impressive as that truck is, it’s not like the original was much more than a rounded cube on stilts. Besides, if you’re throwing wrenches, you’d better criticize the current Cherokee and Grand Cherokee for straying so far from the utilitarian square-sided ammo-crates they used to be.

What, you wanted wood paneling? In 2020? Don’t be ridiculous. I think there could have been a few more retro touches on the exterior design of the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer concept, and perhaps a different debut color other than white, but overall it’s more or less what we should have expected all along. Whatever—I like the ever-so-slightly angled seven-slot grille accents and almost strange upright proportions of the rear greenhouse.

I’m also not going to break down the fantastic interior appointments and hybrid powertrain—go check out our initial coverage here—but if you can look at that (conceptual) interior and not admit you’re at least moderately impressed at the fit, finish, and details, you’ll never be satisfied. This is a Jeep designed to bring the fight to Range Rover, Lincoln, Cadillac, and some of the bigger three-row options from the Germans, and I think it will accomplish this handily.

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept Design: More To Come

Crying foul on the new Grand Wagoneer’s soft-roady setup? As if Jeep won’t offer a Trailhawk-esque off-road trim for those who want to take their extended family glamping. More power? Well, the Durango comes with three flavors of V-8, and the Grand Cherokee has two, so I’d say a Wagoneer with at least the naturally aspirated 6.4-liter is an inevitability. Stellantis even hinted at the potential of two-door and two-row variants; put that in your retro wood-paneled pipe and smoke it.

The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Concept’s design proves you can’t please everyone, even carrying a fat stack of recent slam-dunks. But step back, take a breath, and superimpose what the original Jeep Wagoneer represented onto this new concept, and I think you’ll realize it’s not too far off. Remember, if you want something that looks like the old one, many a shop would be more than happy to modernize and restomod an original SJ you picked up along the way.

Grand Wagoneer Concept