Jeep Wagoneer Through the Years

It led the way on family SUVs decades before others did! Join us today in looking at every generation of the Jeep Wagoneer and all its swagger.

The Original Family Hauler

1975 Jeep Wagoneer -

1975 Jeep Wagoneer – |  Shop Jeep Wagoneer on

During a time when family vehicles included Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac Series 62, Oldsmobile 88, Chrysler New Yorker, and Pontiac Bonneville, along came Jeep with a bulkier, more powerful option: the Wagoneer. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this vehicle changed the way family units traveled for decades to come. If you look at our list of the Top 10 Best Family Cars, you’ll find some sport utility vehicles (SUVs). In fact, we have an entire list of the Best SUVs for Families. That’s because SUVs are the go-to family vehicle these days. That trend can be traced back to the Jeep Wagoneer.

The Wagoneer was a useful full-size SUV before full-size SUVs were cool, but, beyond that, the styling is easily recognizable. Some elements of the design and styling have carried over even into the latest 2022 Jeep Wagoneer and 2023 Wagoneer models. The Wagoneer may not have had a consistent run since the 1960s, but elements of it have been carried on since then, and it’s certainly inspired a new wave of full-size vehicles that fit the entire family!

1st Generation Jeep Wagoneer (1963-1983)

1963 Jeep Wagoneer -
1963 Jeep Wagoneer -
  • Jeep, owned by Kaiser at the time, first started designing what would be known as the Wagoneer (and later the Grand Wagoneer) in the early 1960s. Their goal was to create an updated vehicle with more luxury than the post-war Willys Jeep (later known as the Jeep Wrangler).
  • The 1963 Jeep Wagoneer debuted in 1962. Designed by Brooks Stevens, it was similar to the Jeep Station Wagon that was previously released, but the Wagoneer the first Jeep vehicle that was completely designed from the ground up for a civilian purpose.
  • The first generation of the Wagoneer was called the “Wagoneer SJ” because of its use of the Jeep SJ body platform. This was the same platform the was used on the 1963 Jeep Gladiator pickup truck.
  • The term sport utility vehicle (SUV) wasn’t used then, but the Wagoneer was a SUV since it used the body-on-frame design like a truck instead of a unibody design like a car.
  • The Wagoneer had an independent front suspension, a first for a four-wheel-drive vehicle. This first-generation Wagoneer was also the first 4WD vehicle to offer an automatic transmission. A three-speed manual transmission was also offered.
1966 Jeep Super Wagoneer -
1966 Jeep Super Wagoneer -
  • The 1963 Wagoneer housed a 3.8-liter Tornado six-cylinder engine that put out 140 horsepower.
  • Jeep continued tweaking the Wagoneer over the next several model years. Seatbelts became a standard feature in Wagoneer models.
  • The 1965 Jeep Wagoneer delivered an increased 250 horsepower from a 5.4-liter V8. A 3.8-liter inline-six engine was also offered that year.
  • A new, carl-like grille was in the 1966 Jeep Wagoneer, which came with a Super Wagoneer trim.
  • The top-of-the-line Super Wagoneer introduced power brakes, map lights in the cabin, and a tilt-adjustable steering wheel. That trim lasted until 1969.
  • Buick‘s 5.7-liter, 350 cu-in V8 was an option starting with the 1968 Jeep Wagoneer. It produced 230 horsepower.
1969 Jeep Wagoneer -
1969 Jeep Wagoneer -
  • Rear-wheel drive models were discontinued by the time the 1969 Jeep Wagoneer was released because customers preferred 4WD. Two-door models were also discontinued because four-door options were more popular.
  • American Motors Corporation (AMC) purchased Jeep from Kaiser in 1970 for around $75 million.
  • AMC kept the Wagoneer SJ in production, but they made design changes to reduce road noise and vibrations. The front grille was also updated, starting with the 1970 Jeep Wagoneer.
  • Quadra-Trac, a four-wheel drive system that replaced the locking hubs and manual transfer case from earlier Wagoneers, was introduced with the 1973 Jeep Wagoneer model. This was the first completely automatic full-time four-wheel drive system.
  • The two-door Jeep Wagoneer model returned as a 1974 Jeep Cherokee.
1978 Jeep Wagoneer -
1978 Jeep Wagoneer -
  • Jeep introduced the CJ-7 in 1976.
  • The 1978 Wagoneer Limited was introduced as a luxury model that combined power seats, power windows, air conditioning, and even more noise reduction. This vehicle was later renamed the Grand Wagoneer.
  • Some of the features found in a 1979 Jeep Wagoneer include air conditioning, cruise control, and a cassette player.
  • AMC was producing more 600 Wagoneers a day by the time the 1978 Jeep Wagoneer was introduced.
  • A few changes were made to the 1980 Wagoneer. The Quadra-Trac system was updated and Chrysler started making automatic transmissions for the Wagoneer. No changes were made to the engine lineup.

2nd Generation Jeep Wagoneer (1984-1991)

1984 Jeep Wagoneer -
1984 Jeep Wagoneer -
  • For the 1984 model year, AMC moved the Wagoneer and Cherokee names to small unibody XJ platforms. The full-size SJ Wagoneer was still being manufactured, but it was under the “Grand Wagoneer” name.
  • AMC dumped $250 million into the design and production of the XJ versions of the Cherokee and Wagoneer after doing market research that showed consumer desire for compact SUVs. The 4×4 XJ series was well-received.
  • A low-cost version of the Jeep Wagoneer was also introduced as the 1984 Wagoneer Custom. That vehicle wasn’t as popular and was dropped very quickly.
  • Jeep sold 19,081 Grand Wagoneer units in 1984.
1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer -
1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer -
  • The 1985 Grand Wagoneer and 1986 Grand Wagoneer both grew larger with a new chassis. Suspension was also updated for those two models, improving handling.
  • The 1986 Wagoneer didn’t include massive changes, but a new grille design and hood ornament were two minor updates.
  • The Jeep Wagoneer turned 25 years old with the 1987 model.
  • Chrysler purchased Jeep in 1987. This marked the third owner during the Wagoneer’s production.
1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer -
1989 Jeep Grand Wagoneer -
  • Jeep continued updating the interior in the late 1980s, too. A new stereo system was part of the interior upgrades.
  • Wood side paneling was refreshed on the 1989 Jeep Wagoneer.
  • Grand Wagoneer sales dipped to 10,715 by the time the 1989 model was released.
  • The 1991 Grand Wagoneer was one of the last vehicles in North America with a carburetor.

3rd (Unofficial) Generation (1993-1993)

1993 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ZJ -
1993 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ZJ -
  • Technically, the Wagoneer returned in 1992 with the 1993 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ZJ though it’s not counted as an official generation since it only lasted one year. It was a rare version of the Grand Cherokee the offered premium features including a Magnum 5.2-liter V8 engine.
  • The Jeep Grand Cherokee badged as the Wagoneer ZJ had a leather interior and woodgrain sides.
  • 6,378 units of the 1993 Jeep Grand Wagoneer ZJ were produced.
  • Jeep dropped the vehicle from its lineup before the 1994 model year.

3rd Generation Jeep Wagoneer (2022-Present)

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer and Wagoneer -
2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer and Wagoneer -
  • Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler and Jeep, started exploring the idea of reviving the Grand Wagoneer in 2011, but it didn’t become a reality until almost 10 years later.
  • After a lengthy break, Jeep announced in March 2021 that the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer were returning. What used to be more affordable family vehicles were set to become a premium extension of the Jeep brand, ready to compete with Chevrolet, Cadillac, Lincoln, and Ford options out there.
  • Jeep positioned the Wagoneer as a throwback to the quality-built 4×4 SUV while offering a new level of comfort. Meanwhile, the 2022 Grand Wagoneer was touted as the largest, most expensive, and most luxurious vehicle Jeep has ever built.
  • The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer comes as a Series I, Series II, or Series III. Each Series was offered as base, premium, or Carbide editions.
2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II -
2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II -
  • All 2022 Wagoneer models have a 392-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 engine. Accompanying it is a 48-volt hybrid system.
  • The mild hybrid ‘eTorque’ system and its belt-driven motor turns the engine on and off at stoplights and provides extra torque while accelerating. This combo delivers 404 lb-ft of torque.
  • An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. So is rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is available.
  • The all-new high-strength steel frame was engineered to be lightweight, stiff, and durable. This body-on-frame design provides enhanced stiffness throughout the vehicle, but an electronically-controlled suspension system delivers better on-road handling and comfort. It, of course, comes in 4WD.
  • The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer tows up to 10,000 lbs, a best-in-class rating.
2022 Jeep Wagoneer -
2022 Jeep Wagoneer -
  • 27.4 cu-ft of cargo volume expands to 116.7 cu-ft when second and third-row seats are folded.
  • Autonomous vehicle capabilities include an automated parking system and hands-free active driving assist. Additional driver assists include a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, night vision, and traffic road sign recognition.
  • Inside of the 2022 Wagoneer is a two-spoke steering wheel, mounted LED door puddle lamps, mood lighting available in five colors, and an available 19-speaker stereo system.
  • There’s also a 10.1-inch infotainment display accompanied by a 10.3-inch digital gauge display for the driver. Android Auto, SiriusXM satellite radio, Amazon FireTV and Alexa, Apple CarPlay can all be integrated into the experience.
  • In our full 2022 Jeep Wagoneer review, we described the comeback as a full-size SUV that pairs burly power with fancy features. We also have an in-depth 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer review with more interior photos and performance specs.
2022 Jeep Wagoneer -

2022 Jeep Wagoneer – |  Shop Jeep Wagoneer on

  • The 2022 Grand Wagoneer is essentially the same as the Wagoneer when it comes to mechanics, but it kicks up the luxury and amenities to another level.
  • The 2023 Wagoneer and 2023 Grand Wagoneer added a long wheelbase with the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L. Those versions add 12” in overall length. The wheelbase increases by 7”.
  • A twin-turbo inline-six cylinder engine replaces the previous V8, putting out 420 horsepower.
  • 2023 models will be available at Jeep dealerships in the later part of 2022.

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Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson earned his journalism degree from South Dakota State University. No stranger to newsgathering and reporting, Jesse spent 13 years in TV news. 10 of those years were spent working in Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR. A highlight of his time there was being able to take a lap around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. His interest in vehicles, starting with Matchbox cars, a Big Wheel, and the Transformers, evolved into taking photos of motocross events. Now, he puts his research skills to use on car culture, reviews, and comparisons.

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