Experienced by Leon Brittain
The Wagoneer is no sheep in wolf’s clothing. It’s extra-large, off-road capable, luxuriously laden, powerfully impactful, and technically loaded. As the all-new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer fight for newfound acceptance in the premium full-size SUV market, potential customers will be pleasantly surprised with the Americans’ refreshing touchpoints and level of sophistication. Think of them as the nomads of the Jeep family that ventured off for a lifetime of adventure but eventually returned home to share the excitement.
The Wagoneer looks like how its iconic name reads. However, Jeep is not branding the pair of legends as Jeeps, but as standalone outliers of the brand. Stylistically, the SUV’s unique physique is long, wide, and tall; rounded in the front; and squared off towards the rear. Yet, the Wagoneer will need to establish its identity and disposition with car-buyers. My wife, who spent a long weekend in our Velvet Red Pearl Coat Wagoneer as a passenger for her birthday, initially thought it was a Lincoln Navigator until I explained. The power-folding running boards are also an original Navigator trait, yet they are highly required. Standard 20″ wheels featuring various finishes and textures come standard. However, I’m a fan of the 22″ two-tone black and aluminum rims outfitted on my loaner. This setup matches the black wheel well trim, the sporty black and silver roof racks, the chrome tow hooks, and Jeep’s familiar 7-slot grille.
I felt pretty fancy when I climbed up into the American cockpit to take charge of the flat-bottom steering wheel. Looking around in amazement had me wondering how Stellantis could pull off this level of opulence and wizardry, especially if you choose the Grand Wagoneer that advances the utility exponentially. For example, the Grand features hand-wrapped, quilted Palermo leather seats in all three rows, two 10.1″ touchscreens as part of the available Rear Seat Entertainment system, a start button surrounded by a knurl-patterned bezel and leather with a French accent stitch, a 10.25″ rear comfort screen with configurable controls including standard seat back massage, and a premium 23-speaker, 1,375-watt McIntosh 3D surround sound system with a 12” subwoofer. Unfortunately, though, the 19-speaker, 950-watt version in my Wagoneer was not audibly impressive since full volume is drowned out by heavy conversation. I certainly expected more!
Additionally, the exquisite interior is set off by wood-like panels in the Wagoneer and genuine handcrafted Satin American Walnut in the Grand Wagoneer, an aluminum rotary gear select dial, a digital rearview mirror, a tri-pane panoramic sunroof for shine to all three rows of passengers, and a fancier Uconnect 5 setup with a 10.1” or 12” touchscreen for operating everything from Apple CarPlay to your music choices. I’m also thrilled that product planners kept the physical “volume” and “seek” knobs! Moreover, the 2022 Grand Wagoneer receives a 10.25” screen on the dashboard in view of the front passenger that offers touchscreen control capabilities for various situations. One is Co-Pilot (navigation, device management), the other is entertainment (via HDMI or Rear Seat Entertainment control), and the last is the ability to watch the vehicle’s exterior cameras.
The Wagoneer drives big and heavy but moves fluidly. You know right away that this massive SUV will require extra attention on the road. Power stems from a 5.7-liter V8 engine with 392-horsepower and 404 lb-ft. of torque as well as the company’s eTorque 48-volt hybrid with fuel-saving technologies. On the other hand, the Grand Wagoneer gets down with the automaker’s 6.4-liter V8 delivering 471-horsepower and 455 lb.-ft. of torque. Both are paired with the respected TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission. As a result, acceleration was never an issue during highway passing and overtaking smaller vehicles with ease was thrilling.
When it’s time to hit the trails or go camping with the family, the Wagoneer’s Selec-Terrain traction management system will certainly come in handy. You can set the SUV in Rock, Sand/Mud, Snow, Auto, and Sport modes and manually raise or lower the Quadra-Lift air suspension. Three 4×4 systems include Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II with active low range and a rear electronic limited-slip differential for when the going gets tough. Your ride will be able to swim in 24” of liquid, raise 10″ for more ground clearance, and tow 10,000 lbs. A few advanced safety technologies include Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Driving Assist, Head-up Display, Hands-free Active Driving Assist, Night Vision, Traffic Sign Recognition, and Drowsy Driver Detection.
Yes, a premium American icon is reborn to excite the market with innovation and capability. Expect to initially pay $57,995 for the Wagoneer and $86,995 for the Grand Wagoneer. Keep in mind options can quickly increase the price of both as a Grand Wagoneer can tip the scale past $100,000. Which makes you wonder if customers will put that type of cash towards a large Jeep or stick with Range Rover HSEs, INFINITI QX80s, and Cadillac Escalades. Time will tell; however, you can’t go wrong when entering Jeep Jeep territory.