We’ve just seen the all-new Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the fancy-ass, LCD-crammed new luxury SUV Jeep wants you to go into a bit more debt to buy. But do you even want to consider a Grand Wagoneer without the option of sides slathered in tree meat, be it genuine or fake? Because wood paneling has been a Grand Wagoneer staple for decades. Could it still be possible on the new one?
The original Grand Wagoneer had several versions of its wood trim, including one that had the lighter wood piping just around the overall perimeter of the timber zone, and another option, where there were three sections of wood, front fender, door zone, and rear cargo zone:
The original 1963 to 1991 Brooks Stevens design featured fairly flat, slab-like sides that, while they did have some simple character lines, were really quite easy to clad in wood. The overall design of the car had enough small-scale detailing to support the extra visual elements of the wood and trim. It didn’t feel out of place because there was already contrasting shiny metal trim on the pillars, for example.
The 2021 Grand Wagoneer, though, being a product of modern design vocabulary, is another matter altogether.
Modern designs are less fussy in their details, and make much more use of complex and compound curves and stamped character lines. As a result, there really aren’t large flat areas ready for wood panel application, and substantial details like the large wheelarches and fender flares make the possible areas for paneling somewhat tortured.
Here, look what happens if we try for a woody setup like the more-borders Wagoneer:
Oof. That doesn’t work at all. Let’s try cleaning that up a bit:
Ehhh, a little better, but not that much. Too much border just doesn’t work well here. Would it be better if we kept the doors as one unit, like the original setup?
A little better, but still pretty clunky. Let’s face it, a modern design is going to need a whole new approach, something more sleek and minimal that doesn’t fight as much with the lines of the car. I’m thinking something like this:
That might work. We swap the blonde outer wood border for a thinner stainless steel band and use a more upscale, densely-grained, perhaps darker wood for the interior.
There’s even a Jeep precedent for this sort of minimalist woody look:
I like that! Almost like a wood racing stripe. I think it worked then, and it could work now.
We could offer it in deep metallic-ish grays and almost-blacks, maybe with lighter woods on darker cars for contrast, or go almost black on a white car like this one:
Hell, you could even offer color wood tints for the more daring:
After playing with this, I think it would be possible to do a woody new Grand Wagoneer, though it would have to be a more minimal sort of treatment like this as opposed to full doors of delicious, high-fiber wood (or fake wood).
I think if Jeep offered some cool sustainable options like bamboo this could actually be a distinctive option that would help the Grand Wagoneer to stand out from the crowd and help tie its identity back a bit more strongly to the original, both of which I think this thing needs.
Jeep, if you want me to take a stab at it, just send a press vehicle over. I already have some 2"x4"s and a bunch of wood screws.