Why Jeep didn't make the new Grand Wagoneer retro with wood panels
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Jeep's reborn Grand Wagoneer made its debut as a near-production concept without the wooden panels that characterized its predecessors. While some were surprised by this omission, the company's senior stylist said it was intentional, adding that his team had decided not to venture into retro territory early in the design phase.
"We actually had a couple of themes that were based on the last version from 1991. It was almost too retro. We got off that train quickly," said Ralph Gilles, chief designer of Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), to Gear Patrol.
Rather than bringing out a pastiche of an SUV introduced in November 1962, Jeep took the first Grand Wagoneer of the 21st century in a thoroughly modern direction. The stocky design features a high front end with a thin rendition of the company's seven-slot grille and a boxy silhouette accented by a black roof. Gilles described it as "impenetrable, almost like a fortress in some ways". He highlighted the stern as his favorite part of the design.
While it's officially just a concept, the Grand Wagoneer (pictured above) is unlikely to change significantly as it moves to a production model. Recent spy footage confirms that what we saw in September 2020 is very close to what we'll get when the Ram 1500-based family freight forwarder for the 2022 model year arrives at the showrooms - at least on the outside. We have not yet looked at the interior of the production version.
"I know I'll get a lot of crap if I don't get the wood on the sides," admitted Gilles. He added a model of the wooden panels that had been in his studio "for a hot minute" until he shot the project down. It sounds like the old school wood-side look isn't even an option, but the aftermarket will no doubt step in to fill the void.
The missing Wagoneer link
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Jeep's last production model with wooden sides was the second generation Grand Wagoneer, which was based on the ZJ generation Grand Cherokee and was sold exclusively in the 1993 model year. However, the original Liberty (KJ) was briefly offered with a dealer-installed optional package called Wagoneer (see above), which included a chrome-look grille insert, running boards, wood grain on both sides, and Wagoneer badges on the doors.
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