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Wagoneer to be body-on-frame?

by David Zatz on

The original Jeep Wagoneer had body-on-frame construction — not surprisingly, since the later Jeep Cherokee was the first unibody Jeep (it did use subframes).  Indeed, its engineering was done in parallel with the Gladiator pickup series.

It now appears that, rather than being an offshoot of the Jeep Grand Cherokee or Dodge Durango, the next Wagoneer will be a body-on-frame design, likely based on the Ram pickup (like the old Jeep Rescue concept shown above, but likely based on the Ram 1500 rather than the 2500).

Automotive News appears to have been first with the claim (which we could not confirm) that Sergio Marchionne confirmed the body-on-frame rumor. The Wagoneer will be made at Warren Truck after a renovation of the aging plant; the Rams currently made at Warren are moving out. The FCA CEO said that Ram production at Sterling Heights would start in January 2018, and be fully ramped up by the end of 2018. At that point, the Warren plant will be thoroughly reworked, in both the body shop and assembly. The Wagoneer would then start in late 2019 or early 2020.

Most luxury SUVs are unibody designs; the main exception is the Cadillac Escalade, which is loosely based on Chevy pickups.  The Wagoneer would likely go after the Chevrolet Tahoe with the Grand Wagoneer aimed at the Cadillac. GM’s large SUVs are highly profitable, but attempts by Ford and Toyota to compete directly have failed.

The reason for moving platforms may have been a combination of factors, mainly involving production constraints. With just one “spare” plant and heavy demands on Jefferson North, the company may have decided to go with body-on-frame so they could produce more Ram pickups as well as high-end SUVs. We had heard credible rumors of a Ramcharger SUV, as well; it could be a Wagoneer-Ramcharger duo similar to the Grand Cherokee-Durango.

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