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Last year was one of the best in Jeep's storied history. Celebrating 80 years in business, Jeep made sure to go big on its special anniversary with a record number of new product launches, including the 392 Wrangler, the 4xe Wrangler, the revamped Grand Cherokee and the reintroduced Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.
Recently, I sat in on a call with Scott Tallon, director of Jeep Brand Product Marketing of North America, where he discussed all the major updates to the Jeep brand and why Jeep's future is looking bright. Here's what he had to say about the brand's success.
Jeep began 2021 with the first electrified Wrangler, the Wrangler 4xe (pronounced "four by e"). The 4xe takes the Wrangler's best attributes and amplifies them (pun intended). It's an extremely capable version of the Wrangler and is "not a compromise in any way," Tallon said. "It's only been made better." Drivers everywhere agree — the Wrangler 4xe was the best-selling plug-in hybrid in North America for 2021.
The Wrangler 4xe produces 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, making it one of the most powerful Jeeps ever produced. It's efficient, too. With a combined rating of 48 mpg and a 20-mile full-electric range, it's a sensible and economical purchase. "What we're finding is that it's not unusual for Wrangler 4xe owners to go 1,000 miles on a single tank of gas," Tallon said.
Adding to the efficient and capable Wrangler 4xe is the Wrangler 392, an all-out, pure performance Wrangler built for exhilaration. This Wrangler is all about fun on and off the beaten path, producing 470 horsepower and 470-pound feet of torque.
"This is a special vehicle," said Tallon. "Especially with the higher performance Xtreme Recon package and special edition colors we've rolled out." As far as those colors go, Jeep has introduced Chief Blue, Nacho, Gecko Green and Tuscadero, the latter being the brightest pink you've ever seen on a Wrangler. And you better get used to seeing it — Jeep has already received over 30,000 orders.
Jeep Grand Cherokee L and Grand Cherokee
As exciting as the 4xe and 392 Wranglers are, the all-new Grand Cherokee L was one of the main driving forces behind Jeep's record year. A three-row upgrade from the traditional two-row Grand Cherokee, the Grand Cherokee L was a big hit in its first year.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been the flagship of the Jeep brand since the 1990s. When it first came to market in 1993, the landscape was much different — there were fewer SUVs and more passenger cars on the road. Buyers started to gravitate to the Grand Cherokee because of its true four-wheel-drive capability, distinctive styling and premium features that weren't available in other vehicles.
"Building on that tradition year over year, the Grand Cherokee became the most awarded SUV ever," said Tallon. "It's not something we took lightly for the fifth generation. This new generation has been improved in every single way."
Since its debut 30 years ago, buyers have been drawn to the Grand Cherokee's distinctive styling. While the new styling is a departure from the rounded fourth-generation styling cues, it's still very much distinguishable as a Jeep. The upright, seven-slot grille gives the Grand Cherokee a strong presence, the wider wheelset lends it a more pronounced stance and the angles deliver just-right proportions.
The interior has also been revamped for the 2022 model year. "We welcomed rich materials. Authentic wood, metal, leather and contrasting colors are everywhere. Buyers will find the interior very comfortable and aesthetically pleasing," said Scott.
Until this new generation, the Grand Cherokee has been a two-row vehicle. Seeing a gap in its lineup, Jeep evolved with the marketplace and developed a three-row iteration of the Grand Cherokee — dubbed the Grand Cherokee L. "The Grand Cherokee L had to be a no-compromise execution. Not only is the second row best in class legroom, but there are no compromises for the third-row occupants, either," said Tallon. "The third row is no longer a penalty box."
To improve the Grand Cherokee's capability, every trim now comes with an active transfer case that allows the vehicle to move 100% of the torque between the axles. The next generation of the Quadralift air suspension is capable of fording 24 inches of water and offers best-in-class ground clearance. Towing is rated at 7,200 pounds for Grand Cherokees with a V8 engine and 6,200 pounds when equipped with a V6.
While the Grand Cherokee remains an exceptional off-road vehicle, the new Grand Cherokee's on-road driving dynamics are a standout. "The driving dynamics are far superior to the fourth generation," said Tallon. "The on-road driving is truly world-class."
The new Grand Cherokee offers the most comprehensive standard safety suite of features of any SUV in its class. Features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and more are standard on every trim level. Beyond those standard features, there are special features like night vision and a forward-facing trail cam, with even more optional.
Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer
First introduced in 1962, the Grand Wagoneer was Jeep's flagship before the Grand Cherokee came along in the '90s. When its appeal peaked in the '80s, the Grand Wagoneer was, as Tallon stated, "the premium American SUV."
Catering to a high-end demographic, the Grand Wagoneer had premium features no one else offered. With this kind of history to its name, Jeep took no half-measures in bringing back the Grand Wagoneer nameplate. "It had to be the modern iteration of what American premium should be," Tallon said. "Before the new Grand Wagoneer, we had no offering in the large SUV segment and we weren't in the premium space ... it had to be worthy of its name."
Sporting an elegant exterior design, the Grand Wagoneer is beautiful, recognizable and different in its execution. You know right away that it's not just another large shoebox SUV. The grille is wide and bold. The windows and pillars are smooth and nicely connected. In short, the Grand Wagoneer is grand in every meaning of the word.
On the inside, the Grand Wagoneer is top of the line with incredible attention to detail in its materials and colors. There are over 75 inches of total screen space in the Grand Wagoneer, with a dedicated passenger screen that enables the passenger to operate as a legitimate navigational co-pilot. Massaging heated and cooled seats are also available.
Second- and third-row occupants have access to first-class amenities too. "The third row reclines 20 degrees. Second-row passengers are treated to heated and cooled captain's chairs. The third-row occupants enjoy best-in-class legroom. Everyone has their sanctuary. Screens can be loaded with whatever you want," Tallon said. "The Grand Wagoneer is, in short, supremely comfortable."
Jeep hasn't forgotten what makes a Jeep a Jeep, though, and the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are as capable as you would expect from the brand. The Grand Wagoneer can tow up to 10,000 pounds, offers a two-speed transfer case and has up to 10 inches of ground clearance. No matter the conditions, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are going to get you where you want to go.
"This customer expects to be pampered in style, luxury and comfort. So we focused on the customers and gave them the new benchmark in a large, American SUV," Tallon said.
Whether it be the new Wrangler options, the Grand Cherokee L and Grand Cherokee or the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, Jeep has some exciting vehicles for 2022 and beyond.
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About the author: Having owned everything from a DeLorean to an E46 BMW M3 and a Toyota Land Cruiser, Jason Bell is a lifelong car enthusiast who loves sharing his passions as a teacher, writer, speaker and social media manager. Contact him at email@example.com for comments/questions, or just to say "hi."
The views and opinions expressed here are my own and may not align with KSL.com or KSL Cars.