2022 Jeep Wagoneer & Grand Wagoneer First Drive Review: New Face Of American Luxury

First Drive / Comments

The Wagoneer arrives to dethrone the Escalade and Navigator.

Cadillac and Lincoln had the full-size luxury SUV market to themselves for more than two decades, but Jeep is finally ready to hop in with its own entrant. Well, sort of. The 2022 Wagoneer and 2022 Grand Wagoneer are back, but they don't have a single Jeep badge on them. That's because Jeep wanted buyers to take these vehicles seriously in the luxury segment, so they get special branding (more on that later). There hasn't been a Wagoneer on sale since 1991, but the name still conjures up images of full-size American luxury. With '90s nostalgia running at full power these days, now looks like the perfect time to revive the nameplate.

Jeep says the standard Wagoneer targets the heart of the full-size market; think of it as a rival for the GMC Yukon and the premium Yukon Denali. As for the Grand Wagoneer, it punches significantly higher, going toe-to-toe with the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. So, can Jeep topple these two luxury icons? Based on first impressions, we say, yes.

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Styled By Heritage

Though they have different names, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer share dimensions. They measure 214.7 inches long with a 123-inch wheelbase, making them longer than a standard Escalade but shorter than the Escalade ESV; they are also two and a half inches wider than the GM competitors. These massive proportions give the Wagoneers an intimidating presence worthy of a full-size luxury SUV.

The seven-slot grille ties the Wagoneer models to the Jeep brand, but there isn't a Jeep badge in sight. The Grand Wagoneer's grille contains paint-over-chrome laser-etched rings for a more upscale appearance. Wagoneer models get standard LED headlamps and fixed side steps while the Grand Wagoneer gets premium LED lighting, power-retractable running boards, fender flares, a unique hood, and a black roof. Wheels range from 20 to 22 inches on both models, but 18s can be had on the Wagoneer for off-road use.

Like the original Wagoneer, the new models have large windows, improving outward visibility. The tall window look is a controversial design element, but we think the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer look more elegant in person than photographs. It's difficult to make a full-size SUV appear unique, and it's even tougher to make it pretty. At least in the former, Jeep succeeded here.

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Engine, Performance, & MPG

At launch, there isn't much to choose from under the hood. All Wagoneer models use a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine producing 392 horsepower and 404 lb-ft of torque. This is significantly higher output than GM's 5.3-liter V8 and Ford's entry-level 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. The 5.7-liter engine comes mated to an eTorque 48-volt mild-hybrid system, meaning the stop/start system is seamless and the power band is smooth. The eTorque system delivers 130 lb-ft of torque during throttle tip-in, making the Wagoneer a bit gutsier off the line.

In addition to power and drivability, the mild-hybrid system also improves fuel economy by allowing the Wagoneer to shut off fuel delivery while coasting. Sadly, these fuel-saving measures only go so far on a vehicle that can weigh over 6,000 pounds. The EPA rates the 2WD Wagoneer at 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined, while the 4WD model manages only 15/20/17 mpg. On the bright side, the Wagoneer can tow 10,000 pounds, which is best-in-class.

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Upgrading to the Grand Wagoneer replaces the 5.7-liter V8 with a larger 6.4-liter unit that's familiar to any Scat Pack owner. This muscular engine delivers 471 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, motivating this behemoth up to 60 mph in just six seconds. We wouldn't call the standard Wagoneer sluggish, but the Grand accelerates with more vigor and less effort. As with other applications of this engine, cylinder deactivation helps it save fuel, but it's still a thirsty beast. The EPA rates the Grand Wagoneer at 13/18/15 mpg city/highway/combined in its 4WD configuration, the only one available at launch. We look forward to an upcoming 4xe model with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

Both models send power out through a smooth eight-speed transmission. Jeep offers three available 4x4 systems called Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II. Quadra-Trac is a full-time system with no buttons or levers to interact with, while Quadra-Trac II adds two-speed transfer case. Quadra-Drive II is the most off-road-ready system with a mechanical limited slip differential (or optional eLSD) and active low range.

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Floats Like A Wagoneer

The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer use similar underpinnings as the Ram 1500, the most car-like pickup truck on the market. Front independent double wishbone suspension and multi-link coil-spring rear suspension help the Wagoneer remain compliant, even over torn-up New York City streets. We drove the Wagoneer with the optional Quadra-Lift air suspension (standard on Grand Wagoneer), which further improves the ride comfort beyond what we'd expect in a body-on-frame SUV. With the air suspension equipped on the Wagoneer, it did not feel lacking compared to its more premium sibling. We'd like to sample a Wagoneer without the air suspension to see how it stands up to rough road surfaces.

Both vehicles feel pretty massive due to their width and length, but variable steering helps them maneuver more graciously. The steering gets light at low speeds to make parking lots less daunting, then tightens up on the highway to require less input for lane changes. Even on crappy NYC parkways, both SUVs kept occupants relaxed and comfortable with little road noise. Aside from the gutsier power delivery in the Grand Wagoneer, we didn't think either model lacked in comfort or felt noticeably different.

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A Grand Cabin

Competing in the full-size segment, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer need to offer space in bulk. With seating for up to eight passengers, both models fulfill this role. In fact, Jeep touts best-in-class overall passenger volume and total volume, even counting the long wheelbase Yukon XL and Escalade ESV. Legroom for second and third-row passengers is best-in-class as well, meaning there are no uncomfortable seats in either vehicle. Getting into the third row is simple thanks to a new Tip n' Slide function that pushes the second row forward with a single button press. The third row is power-operated with one touch, and can recline for passenger comfort.

The standard Wagoneer feels premium inside with standard Nappa leather, though the Grand Wagoneer feels far more upscale with available Palermo leather on upper trim levels. Both models receive retro-themed interior nods, such as a two-spoke steering wheel and "EST. 1963" inscription. Jeep offers several different interior colors and veneers depending on the trim, with the highest trim Grand Wagoneer surpassing Cadillac and Lincoln with regards to material quality.

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Screens, Screens, & More Screens

Jeep impresses with its interior quality, but the technology is the wow factor here. The latest Cadillac Escalade launched with 38 inches of screen real estate, to which Jeep replied, "we'll show you screens!" The Grand Wagoneer comes with up to 75 inches of total screen space, while the Wagoneer still boasts an impressive 50 inches. Standard Wagoneer models get a 10.1-inch Uconnect5 infotainment system, while the Grand Wagoneer ups that to 12 inches. Both screen sizes include wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and connectivity for two Bluetooth devices.

The gauge cluster screen measures 10.25-inches in the Wagoneer and 12.3 in the Grand, while the Grand also gets an additional 10.25-inch comfort screen below the infotainment to control the climate and massage functions. In the Grand Wagoneer with captain's chairs, another screen positioned in the rear center console controls the climate and seat functions. Optionally, the passenger can have their own 10.25-inch screen to control input navigation destinations and control media inputs. The passenger can even watch movies or television because the screen can not be seen by the driver.

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The rear seats boast the most innovative entertainment feature with two available 10.1-inch screens mounted to the front seat backs. Rear seat entertainment is nothing new but these screens finally belong in the 21st century with built-in Fire TV integration. Using the touchscreens or two included remotes, rear occupants can watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, YouTube, or pretty much any other streaming service using the vehicle's built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. This is a game changer for rear-seat entertainment. Parents can even use the front screens to monitor what their kids are watching to make sure they don't choose anything inappropriate.

Kids can listen to media through their headphones, but the audio system is part of the experience in the Wagoneer, and especially the Grand Wagoneer. As standard, the Wagoneer includes a nine-speaker Alpine audio system that we didn't have a chance to sample. An optional McIntosh MX950 Entertainment System packs 19 speakers and 950 watts, with a 10-inch subwoofer. Only the Grand Wagoneer is available with the McIntosh MX1375 Reference Entertainment System, which bundles 23 speakers, 1,375 watts, and a 12-inch subwoofer with 3D Surround System. The McIntosh MX1375 is one of the best-sounding audio systems we've ever tested.

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Massive Cargo Space

The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer aren't just spacious for passengers, they can haul a ton of cargo as well. With 27.4 cubic feet behind the third row Jeep claims it has best-in-class volume, though the extended wheelbase Yukon XL and Escalade ESV are slightly larger. With the third row folded using the one-touch power buttons, the space opens to 70.8 cubic feet in the Wagoneer or 70.9 cubic feet in the Grand Wagoneer. Fold down the second row, and the total space becomes 116.7 cubic feet in the Wagoneer or 94.2 cubic feet Grand Wagoneer. These are gargantuan storage capacities.

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Pricing, Trims, & Customer Experience

Pricing ranges drastically depending on the model and trim, spanning from mainstream territory well into the luxury segment. A Wagoneer Series I (late availability) starts at $57,995 (plus a $2,000 destination charge), which is roughly $7,000 more than the cheapest GMC Yukon. The Series II jumps to $67,995 with 2WD ($70,995 with 4WD), while the top-range Series III starts at $72,995 with 2WD ($75,995 with 4WD). Of course, various options can push the price up even higher.

The Grand Wagoneer is significantly more expensive, starting at $86,995 for the Series I, around $10,000 more than a base Escalade or $7,000 more than an Escalade ESV. Pricing starts at $93,995 for the Series II, $98,995 for the Obsidian trim, and $103,995 for the opulent Series III. These are luxury prices that approach European car levels, but the Grand Wagoneer justifies it.

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Customer Experience

Jeep couldn't justify charging six-figures for an SUV unless it offered an appropriate dealership experience. That's where the Wagoneer Client Service program comes into the picture. Only the most highly-rated Jeep dealerships will have the opportunity to sell the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, ensuring that customers receive a luxury experience. Wagoneer Client Service includes five years of standard maintenance (with oil changes and tire rotations), 24/7 concierge support and roadside assistance, no-charge loaner vehicles, VIP events, free cleaning during services, and vehicle pickup/drop-off.

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Verdict: An Instant Luxury Player

Based on our previous experience with the Ram 1500 Limited, we knew Stellantis was capable of building a luxury SUV that could go toe-to-toe with the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer live up to our expectations. Jeep nailed everything it needed to accomplish with these models. The interiors feel class-leading with plenty of space, the technology is outstanding, and the powertrains are competitive. Jeep's first foray into the luxury segment makes it feel like the brand has been building vehicles like this for decades.

The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer instantly vault to the top of our full-size SUV recommendations, with room to grow with future model variants. We expect a more efficient 4xe drivetrain in the future, a long wheelbase model, and maybe even a Hellcat-powered model if we are lucky. Not only would the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer make us reconsider buying an Escalade or Navigator, we'd consider one over a BMW X7 or Mercedes-Benz GLS.

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