Does Jeep's New "Yuntu" Concept Hint at the Next Grand Wagoneer?
Three rows, ground clearance, rear suicide doors, and a panoramic roof—there's a whole lot to like.
Continuing in the grand tradition of automakers teasing Americans with concept cars that may never make it to our shores, Jeep pulled the veil off its large-and-in-charge Yuntu concept at the Shanghai Auto Show, simultaneously previewing an upcoming three-row SUV for the Chinese market and possibly hinting at its plans for the mack daddy Jeep that fans have been clamoring for—the Grand Wagoneer.
Nobody outside of Jeep knows exactly what elements will make it from the concept to production, but it's clear Jeep understands the lack of third row seating has been something of a shortcoming across their entire model lineup in the age of seven-seat crossovers.
The Yuntu, which is Chinese for "cloud map," takes its design cues from several of Jeep's current offerings - the chunky D-pillar is straight off the Renegade, while the front looks like a mashup of the current Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. But the rest of the exterior is conservatively styled with straight lines, minimal ornamentation, and even functional side mirrors, suggesting this concept is much closer to the real thing than most. Large wheels and a surprising amount of ground clearance also give it a rugged, functional appearance that stands out from most of the pavement-pounding crossovers out there today.
Moving inside through the rear suicide doors, the opulent interior gives credence to the idea that Jeep is testing the waters for a flagship SUV. Lightly-colored wood and leather are a high-class touch, while a full-width LED screen spanning the dashboard serves as both gauge cluster and infotainment unit. And the passengers also get to join the screen party, with each person given a dual-monitor setup mounted on the back of the seat in front. The six-seat arrangement is a bit of a surprise, but Jeep has already confirmed that the upcoming Grand Wagoneer will have seating for seven in this country, while the panoramic roof allows everyone to commune with nature together from the comfort of a climate-controlled cabin.
Overall, there are a lot of recognizably "Jeep" elements in the whole package, save for another surprising detail—the Yuntu is designed as a hybrid, possibly even a plug-in. Jeep's Chinese website is already billing it as the crown jewel for that market, placing it front and center in their model lineup. In pictures it appears to be around the same size as the current Grand Cherokee, but without official dimensions it's hard to tell for sure. Either way, look for different pieces of the Yuntu to make their way down through the rest of their trucks after it launches in China in 2018, and for more specifics on the Grand Wagoneer to trickle out as it inches towards production.
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