RFI: Jeep Wagoneer

When I first came over to the U.S., I went to the Chicago Auto Show and just for the hell of it, sat in a Jeep Wagoneer (not the Grand Wagoneer, the smaller one).  It looked exactly like this one:

Immediately I sat in it, I thought, “This is a nice, comfortable car, and I wouldn’t mind owning one.”  For the record, it is one of the few cars I’ve ever felt that strongly about at first seating, so to speak.

I couldn’t afford it new, of course, because I was just starting to rebuild my career pretty much from scratch and hadn’t the funds even for a down payment.

A year later, however, I did have the opportunity to buy one.  One of the execs at the Great Big Research Company was being moved to France permanently, and he needed to sell his Wagoneer.  He was the original owner, and the thing only had about 4,000 miles on it.  Even better was that he didn’t want a lot for it — and I’d scrimped and saved enough for a deposit, and built my credit score up enough for the bank to okay a loan for the balance.

So like a good husband I went home and bounced the idea off the (then-) Mrs., and was shot down in flames because “that tank gets crap gas mileage.”  (I should point out that I lived three miles from the office, and my longest drive would be to the airport.)

Anyway, I never did get the Wagoneer, and I’ve always regretted it.  Jeep stopped making it a year or two later, leaving only the over-large Grand Wagoneer in the showrooms.

Now for the RFI about that Wagoneer:  huge miss, or lucky escape?


  1. Which generation or year are we talking? Personally, I would love a first generation late-60s or 1970s Wagoneer or Grand Wagoneer. The second generation from the 1980s or third generation for the 1990s were okay, but I don’t think they’re a huge loss having missed out.

    For the 1980s, I did like Jeep’s quite powerful 4.0L in-line 6-cylinder engine that was used in the Cherokee, Wagoneer, Wrangler, and Comanche. However I didn’t like the Wagoneer’s faux woodgrain and would have much rather had the 1980s Cherokee instead.

    For the 1990s, I preferred the Grand Cherokees to the basic Cherokee.

  2. I’ve always liked everything Jeep because they always seem a “little bit different” than everything else out there. The only direct experience I have with them is putting about 10k miles on various army Jeeps, and I have nothing bad to say about them.

  3. There is something attractive about these things that certainly doesn’t have to do with beauty, economy, or even, necessarily, reliability. Perhaps it’s a practical level of “jeepness” that you don’t get from the CJ’s and the Wranglers … the more “jeepy” jeeps.
    My son-in-law bought a Cherokee as his first grown-up car. Had to have it. Drove it in Boston winters for a few years. I think he caught the same bug that Kim did. When their family moved overseas, I bought the thing from him on the promise that he had an option to buy it back when they got home. Sure enough, his Cherokee was one of the main things he missed and he bought it back … by which point I had caught the bug and was reluctant to part with it.
    It was loud, didn’t handle particularly well, got terrible gas mileage, the 4.0L six required constant maintenance, and overheated, but it still made me love it, to the point that I was miffed when he eventually sold it out of the family. I’d have taken it back. I can’t explain.

  4. Had one for a company car in the early 90s. Terrible mileage, about 10, but I loved it. Rode and drove great, comfortable, and the AMC 360 V8 was a great engine. From time to time I think about getting one and restoring it, but the prices have gotten absurd.

  5. Best in class 4wd, couldn’t get one stuck and could just about get anything else unstuck. We had a number of them since we lived in the woods and snow was an issue. I loved driving it but it was a gas hog, totally. Great thing was the back window could be lowered from the drivers seat and we always sat on the floor in the back. I have great memories of them and like them but would buy a GMC motorhome before at Grand Wagoneer.

  6. My dad went through two Wagoneers, one late 1960s and similar from the 1970s (which I drove from Washington State to San Francisco to Colorado one time). He used them to pull his Airstream trailer, so had transmission coolers and other add-ons.

    Yes, 14 mpg on the highway with no trailer, but pretty solid, and easy to fill up with camping gear, dogs, and all of that. I think he had the second one until the late 1990s.

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