Finally getting a true competitor to Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LX and Lincoln Navigator, the Jeep brand adds a new full-size SUV to the lineup for 2022. Badged Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, this new vehicle offers three rows of seats for a capacity of up to 8 passengers and has a rugged body-on-frame chassis that's designed for towing and hauling. Slightly larger than the standard Escalade and Navigator, the new Wagoneer is offered with rear- or 4-wheel drive. Grand Wagoneer is only offered with 4-wheel drive.
Both Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are the same size, but Grand models are more luxuriously equipped and designed to compete with Cadillac, Lincoln and Lexus. Grand Wagoneer prices start at $88,440 and trim levels include Series I, Series II, Obsidian and Series III. All get a 6.4-liter V8 engine that makes 471 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque. Sole transmission offering is an 8-speed automatic. All Grand Wagoneers come with a 2-speed transfer case for the 4-wheel-drive system and an electronic limited slip rear differential.
Standard equipment on all models includes a head-up display, forward-collision warning with brake assist, blind-spot monitor, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, automated parking system, 360-degree surround-view camera, 12-inch infotainment touchscreen, digital instrument display, wireless Android Auto and Apple Car play support, 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, wireless charging pad, hands-free power liftgate, panoramic sunroof, 4-zone climate control, leather upholstery, retractable running boards, headed second-row captain's chairs and adaptive air suspension.
Grand Wagoneer's standard 6.4-liter V8 is one of the best engines in the class. It always provides ample power and works well with the 8-speed automatic. When pressed, it will push the 6300-pound beast from 0 to 60 MPH in less than 6 seconds. Impressive indeed. The engine is smooth at all times and has the kind of low-end torque that is necessary for towing and hauling.
Given that Grand Wagoneer is a Jeep, you'd expect it to be capable off road. That's mostly the case, but the sheer size and 123-inch wheelbase limit its maneuverability in tight spaces. The 4-wheel-drive system can be operated on dry ground and has a low range for use off road, if necessary. In addition to 4-wheel drive, Grand Wagoneer offers an adaptive air suspension that can raise its ride height up to 3.6 inches or lower it by a half-inch. Overall, it boasts 10 inches of ground clearance, up to two feet of water-fording capability, and a max tow rating of 9860 pounds.
If the powertrain has an Achilles' heel, it's fuel economy. While GM opts for cylinder deactivation on its big V8 and Ford goes the turbocharging route, Grand Wagoneer sticks to tried-and-true technology, which isn't the most efficient. EPA ratings of 13 MPG city and 19 MPG highway bear that out. In addition, premium-grade fuel is required. To be fair, all others in the class require premium-grade fuel and only get a MPG or two better in most cases. Real-world driving backs up the EPA estimates. You'll have to drive with an empty load and a light throttle foot to achieve more than 15 MPG overall. Thankfully, Grand Wagoneer offers a large 26.5-gallon fuel tank.
As with its domestic rivals, the Grand Wagoneer utilizes body-on-frame underpinnings -- one that is shared with the Ram 1500 pickup truck. However, the Jeep gets an independent rear suspension rather than the Ran's solid rear axle. That one simple change along with the active air suspension means all the world. Instead of riding like a softly sprung truck, the Grand Wagoneer drives like a large crossover. You can still feel a hints of the truck-based chassis on bumpy roads and in quick transitions, though, to be fair, you feel the same thing in Escalade, Expedition and Tahoe.
Thanks to the very long wheelbase and generous tire sidewalls, the ride is very comfortable. It grows a bit busier with the available 22-inch wheels, so be sure to test drive the exact vehicle before you buy. Large bumps are nicely smothered by the absorbent suspension, though at times you can feel some rebound as the front rides over expansion joints. Overall, Grand Wagoneer offers a better ride than any competitor.
As you might expect from a large crossover, nimbleness is not a forte. Calling Grand Wagoneer cumbersome or ponderous would going too far, drivers just need to be aware that you can't expect a 3-ton wagon to react like a sports car. For that part, the steering is a bit slow, and that is most noticeable at parking speeds. Brakes have an easy-to-modulate pedal, but stopping distances seem a trifle long. There's noticeable body lean in turns and the stability control system kicks in very early to mitigate any boneheaded driving maneuvers.
Interior noise levels are low, especially up front. There's hardly any road noise and only a whisper of wind noise at highway speeds. There's a bit more noise in the third-row seat, but still not objectionable.
From the first second inside, its apparent that Grand Wagoneer has taken over the role as flagship at Jeep. The interior is welcoming, modern and fitted with high quality materials throughout. Though there are LOTS of screens and buttons, there's a simplicity to the design that will certainly reassure the technology adverse.
Size wise, Grand Wagoneer splits the difference between the short-wheelbase versions of the Escalade and Navigator with somewhat less passenger volume than both in the front seat, somewhat more in the second and third row. Comfort wise, there's no comparison, Grand Wagoneer seats are more comfortable across the board. Head and leg room are generous in all seating positions, with the second-row captain's chairs being particularly comfy. The front seats also have a wonderful massaging feature, that, along with the adaptive cruise control, go a long way to reducing long-haul driving fatigue. And, thanks to very large windows, outward visibility is very good.
From a technology perspective there is little doubt that Grand Wagoneer is tops in the class -- if nothing else than on screens alone. The center stack packs a 12.0-inch center touchscreen that sits above a 10.3-inch touchscreen with controls for the HVAC system. Starting on the Series II, there's yet another 10.3-inch touchscreen for the front-seat passenger. Second-row passengers are also treated to another 10.3-inch touchscreen between the captain's chairs; opting for the rear-seat entertainment system adds a pair of 10.1-inch touchscreens. Features include a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and USB ports in all three rows. Topping it all off, Grand Wagoneer has a powerful McIntosh stereo, but the Series II and up get a more powerful 1375-watt unit with 23 speakers.
On the cargo front, Grand Wagoneer's max capacity of 116.7 cubic feet bests its domestic competition by 7.6 to 16.4 cubic feet. It should be noted that if you opt for the captain's chairs with center console, capacity is reduced to 94.2. Jeep also offers more space behind the second and third rows, too. Interior storage is excellent
Bottom Line -- Look out Cadillac and Lincoln, there's a new kid in town. Grand Wagoneer may be an old name, but the vehicle is completely new and extremely competitive. It's loaded with safety and technology features, offers ample interior room, packs a powerful engine and heaps on the comfort. It's priced competitively against luxury competition and there's a more-reasonably priced Wagoneer model set to do battle with Ford and Chevrolet. If you are shopping for a large SUV, you'd be a fool not to test drive this latest offering from Jeep.