Known as one of the first commercially available sport utility vehicles, the Jeep Wagoneer was manufactured from 1963 to 1993 with cosmetic changes but only minor mechanical modification. Wagoneers - the first luxury 4x4's - hold the record as the longest uninterrupted production run on the same platform in the history of United States automotive manufacturing. The unique exterior appearance of the Wagoneer was groundbreaking among true SUV's, representing a new generation of massive passenger vehicles with 4x4 performance specifications. Power steering and automatic transmission - previously lacking in the pool of sport utility and estate vehicles commercially available - were integrated into the Wagoneer's mechanical systems.
The Wagoneer was initially designed by Brooks Stevens based on the original Jeep station wagon being produced by Willys motors. Manufactured in Tehran Iran and the Chrysler plant in Toledo, Ohio, the Wagoneer combined practical family vehicle functions with the off-road performance of a powerful utility and recreation vehicle. Body styles for the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer ranged from two-door trucks and SUV's to four-door SUV's built on the Jeep SJ platform. Fuel economy was never a strong point of the Wagoneer, and pricing at one time rivaled that of many cars considered luxury vehicles in the American market. Jeep broke the mold of utilitarian 4x4's with this model that represented an upscale family carrier in its later years.
Developing through several different exteriors over nearly three decades of production, the Wagoneer evolved into aesthetically pleasing vehicles popular among suburbanites and the affluent. Later models produced under Chrysler after the purchase of AMC were complemented by the release of the Grand Cherokee, another popular Jeep model. The Grand Wagoneer - introduced in 1993 - boasted a 220 horsepower Chrysler Magnum" V8 engine. Wood grain trim, cushy leather seating and sound dampening design innovations further hastened the Wagoneers evolution into the luxury SUV market. The ZJ Wagoneer was somewhat overshadowed by the success of the grand Cherokee, though Chrysler's current sitting CEO has hinted at a possible revival in 2013.
Trim options for the Wagoneer were essentially confined to optional accessories available to upgrade interior functions and seating. The Wagoneer SJ, two-door pick-up and two-door SUV models were overshadowed in later years by the highly recognizable four-door style most popular among consumers. The last model years included rear wiper assemblies, overhead consoles and upgraded wood siding.
The Jeep Wagoneer was considered in the industry to be a groundbreaking vehicle. Trailblazing the future for luxury sport utility vehicles of later generations, the Wagoneer was lauded among car enthusiasts and publications though there was a lacking pool of similar vehicles on which to base comparisons. Wagoneers are still popular choices among Jeep enthusiasts and car collectors.
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