Jeep’s Grand Wagoneer could top $100,000 in its most luxurious configuration, the automaker has said, raising the question of whether its buyers are ready for a six-figure SUV. Revealed in concept form this week, the Grand Wagoneer will arrive as a production model in 2021, though it’s unclear just how much of the lavish and tech-filled cabin will make it to the factory.
Certainly, you can’t accuse Jeep of stinting on screens. Indeed you could assume that the automaker had the plight of LCD manufacturers in mind when it outfitted the Grand Wagoneer’s interior with multiple panels.
The driver gets a fully-digital instrument panel for the gauges, and then there are two displays in the center console. The upper, larger touchscreen handles infotainment and vehicle modes. Below it, there’s a slightly smaller – though still, at 10.25-inches, bigger than what many production cars rely on for their primary infotainment interface – display for adjusting seating, HVAC, and other settings.
The front passenger, meanwhile, gets a dedicated display of their own. That can also show navigation and multimedia, along with acting as a receiver for casting video from a smartphone or other mobile device. Jeep hasn’t stinted on physical controls, either, with plenty of hardware buttons and knobs scattered around and between its touchscreens.
In the second row, meanwhile, there are even more displays. Both of the captain’s chairs get a dedicated 10.1-inch display, mounted on the back of the first row seats, for media. A third display is in the center console between them, for independent climate control adjustment. There are plenty of USB ports and outlets, too, with the second row alone having two USB-C, two USB-A, and two types of power socket.
Certainly, an uptick in displays – both in number and size – has been a fairly ubiquitous progression in the auto industry, especially among high-end vehicles. There are clear benefits to being able to offer the hundreds if not thousands of settings a modern car or SUV supports tidied away in a menu structure, rather than having dedicated controls for every one. At the same time, however, safety advocates and organizations like the NHTSA have voiced some concerns about how much potential for distraction there is in today’s screen-packed cabins.
It’s unclear whether Jeep’s production version of the Grand Wagoneer will offer quite this many displays. The front passenger touchscreen seems like an obvious place that number would be trimmed, while in the rear a smaller HVAC settings screen is another strong possibility. The twin multimedia panels for the second row will likely be offered as an optional rear seat entertainment package, though whether that’s preferable or of greater value to just being able to mount a couple of iPads or other standalone tablets – as we’ve seen some automakers embrace – is questionable.
The reality is that few Grand Wagoneers are likely to be configured in anything close to the maximum level of luxury Jeep actually has in mind. The automaker has been upfront about its goal of opening up new markets, above where its current range of vehicles play today. Not only does that offer room for expansion, it also encompasses luxury vehicle buyers who traditionally spend much more liberally than those in the market for a Cherokee or Grand Cherokee.
Whether Jeep can convince that audience depends on more than just big, numerous displays, mind. While the Grand Wagoneer’s exterior styling has proved controversial since the automaker showed it off in full earlier this week, the attention to detail in the interior is clear. Jeep has used high-end materials like raw aluminum, real wood, and glass, with a focus on touch-points and the visual glitz that luxe SUVs typically offer.
How much of that can make it to production is the biggest question. For every part of the modern Jeep – or, indeed, the modern FCA – experience that gets praised, like the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system, there’s typically plenty of areas for improvement, like over-familiar switchgear set into too much underwhelming plastic. It’s not just a Jeep issue, either, with modern Maserati cars also struggling to elevate their cabin experience to the level that might be expected from their potentially six-figure price tags.
If the production Grand Wagoneer can keep its concept sibling’s finesse, the idea of a $100k Jeep may not be so outlandish. After all, the automaker’s vehicles are perennially popular among those who go on to invest tens of thousands of dollars in customization and mods. For now, the Grand Wagoneer concept shows Jeep undoubtedly knows what a luxury SUV should look and feel like inside. What comes next is proving it has the ability to bring that to dealerships in a vehicle you can buy.