Jeep’s coming out with all guns blazing at the moment as it refreshes and renews its line-up with an arsenal of hybrid and new metalwork that will keep its product at the pointy end of consumer interest in the coming years.
We learned late last year when we were in NZ for the international release of the Gladiator that Jeep had an advanced program in play to roll out electrification of its fleet across a mix of hybrid and full EVs and that meant diesel was in decline, a fact confirmed this week with the announcement that Wrangler will be petrol only in Australia until the 4XE project is seen here.
4XE is a plug-in hybrid version of Jeep’s range and the Wrangler adopts a green-tinged powertrain that utilises, in the 2021 Wrangler, the turbo petrol 2.0L four-cylinder alternative to the 3.6L V6 Pentastar that we see here. Albeit all sparked-up with an electric motor hanging off the front where you’d expect to see the alternator and another wedged in front of the eight-speed auto.
That combo is said to be good for 280kW and 637Nm. Really? That’s the promise with electrification, massive torque, available right from the get-go and that will work well off-road. Once the solution is found to a decent range between charges for EVs, we’ll be living in a perfect 4X4 world.
Right now, Jeep’s big idea of perfect, is the just-announced Wagoneer concept. The Wagoneer revives a nameplate from the sixties although the faux timber panelling is missing this time around, and that’s a good thing. Woodies have had their time in the sun.
Wagoneer is big. It uses the same platform as the Dodge RAM 1500, which is proving to be a very versatile starting point, having also contributed its backside for the Gladiator. The big point of difference is that whilst RAM and Gladiator use a solid and live axle in the back, Wagoneer goes independent all round.
If you picture your typical big American high-riding 4X4 wagon (I loathe using the term ‘SUV’) you’ll know how big this is. I see flashes of Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade but rehashed for the modern world, with more than a nod to Rivian’s R1S wagon.
This is a Jeep that won’t be tackling the Rubicon any time soon, so you won’t be seeing a Trail-Rated badge on its flanks, especially since the concept sports 24” wheels and a massive wheelbase, rather this is a land-yacht with a hybrid driveline in the 4XE mould, bumped up to pull a mass that’s got to be nudging three-tonnes empty. RAM mostly uses a 5.7-litre petrol V8 or a 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel to get around, so making a hybrid out of one of them is likely.
The interior is full of TV screens to keep everyone amused, as well as seats and surfaces that will consume the hides of a million buffalo. With a climate control system that’s going to need the stored power of the big Tesla battery to compete with all that glass on a sunny Global Warming day, Jeep Wagoneer is gunning to replace Range Rover as the world’s premium uber-SUV, I mean wagon.