People who buy Jeeps are used to going off the beaten path, and the brand has been taking its customers into uncharted territories for decades. Having just introduced a Jeep that can cost north of $100K in the Grand Wagoneer, Jeep is really trying to take customers—and their wallets—to places they haven’t been.
The Grand Wagoneer in top Obsidian trim starts at $105,980. Both the Wagoneer and the Grand Wagoneer are set to reach dealers by the second half of the year, but both will only be available in pre-configured models at launch. And the pre-configured Grand Wagoneer Series III Premium starts at $107,980!
What makes Jeep officials think it can pull this off?
They say the Grand Wagoneer and Wagoneer customer will be given the VIP treatment like never before. They point to things like the separate showroom and service area, the VIP helpline available for length of ownership, that only Wagoneer Certified Dealers will sell the trucks, and those are exclusively dealers who earn a Customer First award for excellence by J.D. Power.
Christian Meunier, Jeep brand chief executive officer, told Autoweek that the company is trying to get more dealers to agree to a dedicated showroom for the two SUVs and that so far dealers are showing great interest. He said Jeep research shows that when dealers build separate facilities, they sell more cars, customers have a lot more satisfaction with their experience, and the dealers are making a lot more money.
Jeep officials also point out that the brand is making “10 Customer Promises” to every Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer owner, including staffing dealers with Certified Wagoneer Ambassadors who have taken more than 90 hours of training and passed certification exams and thus “really understand the brand, the products, full feature sets, and use cases.” Another promise is Jeep offering a remote showroom, test drives and delivery for sales and vehicle pickup/delivery for service, a free service loaner, and 24/7 customer support.
It all sounds good, but still, more than $100K for a Jeep?
“We think it starts with understanding the customer that’s looking for that $100,000 vehicle,” Jim Morrison, Jeep’s North American boss, told Autoweek. “Some of them were our own customers that transitioned out of Grand Cherokees into other premium brands as their needs grew.”
Some customers needed bigger vehicles, Morrison told us, and some had the means to move up, and they left Jeep. He said the key is understanding what that customer is looking for.
“We tried to design in all the expectations from day one for both the Wagoneer and most importantly the Grand Wagoneer. They’re looking for size, capability, opulence, and I think we’ve delivered with best-in-class second row, best-in-class third row, best-in-class cargo space, and best-in-class capability. Our 10,000 pounds of towing smokes the competition.”
Morrison told us the ’80s Grand Wagoneers did all of those things better than the competition, too, “so we’re doing the same thing in 2021.”
The other piece of it is opening the door and seeing the interior. “It looks like a million bucks,” he told us. “We have the best interior by far with more leather and real wood than the competition—it’s just incredible.”
Meunier pointed out to us that Wranglers and Gladiators are already going for more than $60,000 with a much smaller footprint. “So Jeep is already pretty much premium from the Renegade to the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler and Gladiator. So we believe we can do the same with the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer,” he told us.
He said Jeep’s research on the target customer showed the need for “premium craftsmanship, artisanship, technology, capability, in a product they can enjoy.”
He also said the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer will initially be offered in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East. “We’ve had discussions to add markets later,” he said, “but no decision has been made.”
What’s next? Meunier said that a long-wheelbase Grand Wagoneer is coming but wouldn’t give a time frame. He also said the plan is to go beyond the just-launched SUVs. “We have some ideas on how we can extend the portfolio, and there will be more news. Electrification is in the pipeline as well, so we will expand.”
For now when we hear the words “Grand Wagoneer,” we still inevitably think of the large, square-ish mid-’80s SUV with fake wood on the sides. It’s going to take some time to think of the new one when we hear those words, and perhaps even longer to wrap our heads around a $100,000 Jeep. On the other hand, it’s possible to spend $100K on a refurbished ’90s model. Maybe Jeep is on to something after all.
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