If bigger equals better, Wagoneer rates a best bet.
The all-new hulking 2022 Wagoneer represents the largest five-door sport utility vehicle in Jeep’s expanding portfolio. Three-row seating comes standard with room enough for kids and gear all tied together with more than a whiff of luxury.
Those of a certain vintage remember the first go-around of the Wagoneer moniker debuting back in the early 1960’s and soldiering on through 1991. Then, as now, the name signified Jeep’s biggest crowd pleasing (and carrying) offering.
Just how big is big? Wagoneer measures in 10 inches longer than the newish Grand Cherokee L (the L signifies ‘long’), already adding 14 inches to the mid-size Grand Cherokee.
Jeep’s trademark seven-slot front grille returns, but similar to the mid-size Grand Cherokee of the last several years, boasting a notable reduction in point size when compared to yesteryear Jeeps. The geometrical wheel well design also screams ‘Jeep’ with its four-sided brim rather than the traditional semi-circular arch. Similar to Grand Cherokees, narrow slot-like front headlights take the place of a circular “Wrangler-ish” design.
As with Cherokee and its spicier Grand Cherokee stablemate, Wagoneer 2022 comes to market with a ‘Grand’ Wagoneer compatriot replete with upper echelon tapestry targeting the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Lexus LX.
Eight-passenger seating comes standard (2/3/3) with Wagoneer. A pair of row-two Captain’s chairs are optional resulting in seven rider comfort (2/2/3). Grand Wagoneer flips the script, with second-row Captain’s chairs standard.
A well-tested and respected, muscular 5.7-liter V-8 Hemisphere (Hemi) engine comes standard blasting out 392 horsepower contributing to an above-average 10,000-pound towing capacity. This powertrain’s first generation debuted in 2003 within the Dodge portfolio. Now in a refined third Generation this motivator, utilizing two spark plugs per cylinder, sprinkles through Dodge, Ram and Jeep portfolios.
Consider Wagoneer, with its sturdy body-on-frame truck-like structure, a Sport Utility Vehicle built for heavy-duty exercises, not a five-door uni-body crossover with less towing authority. Jeep’s Grand Cherokee and Cherokee fall into the crossover classification. Two Wagoneer trim levels available in its first year include Series II and Series III, all with standard rear wheel drive and 4 x 4 optional. A Series I trim is scheduled for late arrival in the 2022 calendar year. Grand Wagoneer offers Series I, II and III from the get-go.
Wagoneer’s traditional internal combustion V8 adds a tad of electrification, with no plug-in required. The 48-volt mild gas-electric hybrid technology (which Jeep markets as e-torque, first tried in the 2019 Ram 1500) contributes to an impressive 404 pound-feet of torque, helping achieve impressive (and class leading) towing and payload capacity stats. It teams with a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission.
Since its not of the ‘all-electric’ variety, recommended mid-grade 89-octane gasoline feeds this beast (although 87-octane remains acceptable). Expect 16 miles per gallon in city travel and 22 mpg highway when teamed with rear-drive; 15 and 20 with all-wheel drive. For a hulking V-8, it slips in about average. Generous fuel tank capacity checks in at 26.5 gallons. Assisting highway mpg; cylinder deactivation halving the number of cylinders in use when traversing the open road.
Technical advances include a start-stop mechanism silencing the engine at prolonged before returning to duty when lifting the right foot from the brake; it’s one of the more seamless designs with minimal perceptible intrusion when cycling on and off. If desired the system easily deactivates from a dashboard button.
Independent rear-suspension (in place of a truck-prominent leaf spring variety) adds a subtler, less bouncy ride when pavement bound, most appreciated when occupying rows two and three. A similar design underscores the full-size Ram 1500 pickup, with which Wagoneer shares many rough-and-tumble underpinnings. Electronically controlled suspension also delivered subtle ride quality while heading to and from the Mississippi River along I-80 in mid-January.
The brake pedal, with predictable foot travel, is easy to master. Maneuvering this biggish brute within small-ish suburban strip mall parking slots takes more practice.
Choosing a 4 x 4 also necessitates selecting from two distinct systems: hassle-free, Quadra-Trac I with full-time, 50-50 torque split four-wheel drive and single-speed transfer case or Quadra-Trac II with two-speed transfer case and variable front-rear torque split. Both have a long history with other Jeep products. The 4 x 4s come standard with five terrain settings selectable from a tab next to the transmission dial.
The opulent ‘Grand’ Wagoneer comes standard with a larger V-8 (6.2-liters, 471 horses) with 4x4’s teamed with Quadra-Drive II, delivering torque to tires with traction during detected slippage.
Despite the bulk, Wagoneer offers hospitable niceties. For example, It’s a pleasant journey to front buckets from Mother Earth, thanks to side running boards and vertical grab handles adhered to inside A and B pillars. Top trims include optional, retracting boards for a smoother exterior finish. With standard suspension, ground clearance measures at a class average 8.3 inchers. Optional ‘Quadra-Lift’ air suspension boosts inch count to 10.
Running boards pay dividends when entering the third-row once second row seatbacks tilt forward and slide. It’s an easy scoot to the way back even for a sixty-something thanks to Wagoneer’s extra length. Two adults and a smallish teen or preteen in the middle could occupy row three for extended drives, a claim not all three-row vehicles boast. Third row backrests manually fold forward and pull back via well-placed pull straps accessible from the opened hatch.
A handy hands-free power lift-gate comes standard requiring a simple Hokey-Pokey like foot swipe under the cargo region. A lower belt line gives pause to larger side and hatch windows helping improve sight lines for pilots. Large, vertically-orientated, side-view mirrors include low-tech but highly effective concaved upper corners allowing views of side blind spots. At night, puddle lights stream the word “Wagoneer” to the pavement below.
The well-padded, expansive, ebony upper portion dashboard adorns soft-touch materials and team with elegant white stitching. Four smallish vertical ventilation slots intersperse from end to end. Supportive and wide front buckets work in tandem with elbow rests built into ends of the extra-large center storage bin.
An electronic push start/stop button resides on the dash right of the steering column and free from any direct impediments. Smartly, ‘Run’ and ‘Stop’ wording illuminates the button confirming the vehicle’s state. Also of an electronic nature, the eight-speed transmission just east of the start/stop orb employing a tactile twist dial when shifting between PRND.
Every Wagoneer includes upscale nuances such as Nappa leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front buckets, power-tilting/telescoping steering column, three-zone climate control and leather-wrapped steering wheel. All help justify the $71,845 starting price for our Series II tester.
Prices travel North from there with 10 optional equipment packages from which to pick and choose. Series III, starts about $5,000 higher. Our Series II bottom line ended at $82,925 with extras including air suspension and heads-up front windshield display. Included is 120 standard and/or optional high-tech safety features.
Popular Smartphone pairings Car Play and Android Auto come standard (wireless charging included) as does the latest fifth-generation ‘U-Connect,’ Jeep’s quick-responsive interactive in-screen technology. Wagoneer’s sizeable central 10.1-inch display window may seem intimidating at first, but logical design and large graphics speed the learning curve along. Numerous USB plug ports (totaling eight) intersperse throughout the three rows.
Plus the system includes secondary audio and pre-set controls mounted on the steering wheel’s back side, letting finger tips monitor listening comfort in their natural positioning; one of the industry’s best. The steering wheel face front includes cruise control functions at 3 o’clock and instrument panel selections commanding the 10.25-inch digital display cluster at nine sharp.
A five-year ‘Worry-Free’ maintenance program includes complimentary dealership scheduled oil changes and tire rotation. This impressive timeframe usually associates with high-end luxury autos. 2022 Jeep Wagoneer
Price as tested: $82,925
Wheelbase: 123.0 inches
Length: 214.7 inches
Width: 94.0 inches
Height: 75.6 inches
Engine: 5.7-liter, V-8 internal combustion
Curb weight: 6,190 pounds
Powertrain warranty: Five-years/60,000 miles
City/Highway economy: 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway
Assembly: Warren, Michigan