Auto123 reviews the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer.
In a year of many remarkable new additions to the automotive landscape, perhaps the most difficult to ignore is Jeep's new Grand Wagoneer SUV. The new king of the castle in the Jeep lineup of SUVs comes in two sizes: big and bigger.
Although, it is not actually the biggest vehicle in the brand's history. The J20 pickups that were discontinued when Chrysler acquired American Motors (which owned Jeep at the time) were much larger, made that way to compete with Dodge’s pickups at the time. The large M725s of military origin disappeared almost at the same time. Nevertheless, Chrysler kept the big Grand Wagoneer SUV on its roster until 1991. After that, Chrysler, which became Daimler-Chrysler, then Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles and then Stellantis, decided it didn’t want to produce such large SUVs anymore.
Meanwhile, though, GM and Ford continued to work the niche, with some success, offering their Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and XL SUVs in the former case, and Ford Expedition and Max (and Excursion for a short while) including standard and extended Escalade and Navigator luxury variants in the latter.
Since then, Japanese automakers Toyota and Nissan have tried to match them with their large (and recently redesigned) Sequoia and Armada SUVs, accompanied by luxury versions the Lexus LX and Infiniti QX80, while from Europe we’ve seen the arrival of the Range Rover, Audi Q7, BMW X7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS.
Stellantis couldn't stay out of this fight forever. And so here are the new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, large 4-wheel drive SUVs with V8 engines, a bit like the Grand Wagoneer abandoned over 30 years ago. Right when gas prices are at an all time high! No matter, the most recent sales figures show that Stellantis did the right thing by entering this niche.
Just to be clear, this is not a Grand Cherokee L or any other extrapolation of the Grand Cherokee lineage. Despite its resemblance to the latter, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer is an all-new vehicle... well, almost all-new, as its impressive seven- or eight-passenger body is based on a rigid frame chassis derived from Ram pickup trucks. However, the similarities end there.
Jeep's new Wagoneer lineup comes in two flavours, with the Wagoneer going head-to-head with the Tahoe-Yukon and Expedition, and the Grand Wagoneer, even more advanced and luxurious, taking on the Escalade and Navigator.
The Wagoneer “makes do” with a 5.7L Hemi e-Torque (light-hybrid) V8 engine, while the Grand gets a more-muscular 6.4L HEMI (truck) V8. And while the former produces a respectable 392 hp and 404 lb-ft of torque (plus the 130 lb-ft that the electric motor adds), the latter makes 471 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque (allowing for a towing capacity of 4,563 kg).
Both, however, come only with an 8-speed automatic transmission and 4-wheel drive (some models are rear-wheel drive only, but only in the U.S.) with either the full-time Quadra-Trac I transfer case or the Quadra-Trac II, also full-time but with two speeds, available with a limited-slip rear differential (standard with the Grand Wagoneer).
Incidentally, what's surprising is that the rear suspension of this SUV is independent, despite the chassis' origin. Our tester also had the top-of-the-line Quadra-Lift air suspension.
I had the opportunity to spend a week behind the wheel of this new king of the road in its Grand Wagoneer Series III version, the most luxurious trim available. The Grand Wagoneer (Series I) has a base price of $101,495, while the Series III model I was given was priced at – wait for it - $130,270 (including transport and preparation... plus taxes)!
Once you get over the vehicle's size and past its resemblance to the Grand Cherokee, it's the interior finish that surprises you as soon as you get behind the wheel.
To climb inside, a step deploys from the bottom of the body. Once you've settled inside, you immediately notice the immensity of the cabin. You start thinking, this big Jeep would be great for hitting the highway and heading to, say, Florida... especially in winter!
The large dashboard in front of the driver is not cluttered by superfluous lines from an overly bold designer. On the contrary, its curves are simple and tasteful. The instrumentation appears in a very readable digital image including round dials and a clear information centre.
The steering wheel with its flattened base takes up some of the controls without being overloaded with them. In the centre, there are two screens, including a top one of about 12 inches. It's mostly dedicated to the radio and the Tom-Tom navigation system (managed by the user-friendly U Connect 5 system). Below that, there's another screen for climate control and other essential commands.
Note that rear passengers also have a similar large touchscreen for radio and climate control (in addition to the two 10-inch video screens behind the headrests that can be served by Amazon Fire TV, giving passengers a choice of movies or shows available via 4G LTE WiFi telecommunication).
The large centre console supports the shift wheel and Selec-Terrain controls for off-road functions. And there are the inevitable Apple CarPlay, Android Auto plugs in addition to the Alexa virtual assistant.
I'll stop here for a moment to point out that the radio in this Grand Wagoneer was spoiled with a 1,375-watt McIntosh sound system with 23 speakers! A true music lover's dream.
Of course, the vast interior can be illuminated by a massive sunroof with glass panels. The comfortable front bucket seats (heated and ventilated, of course) were upholstered in our tester in grey leather with diamond stitching, a finish repeated on the centre buckets (offering plenty of legroom and headroom). Note that it is possible to get a bench seat in the centre which will add a place for another passenger.
The upholstery of the third row of seats at the very back is the same as elsewhere. Thankfully that row is easy to reach, the centre seats being a cinch to move as needed. Once there, the space is actually quite generous. Divided one-third, two-thirds, this seat folds down to create a massive cargo space, which can be reached from the outside by simply putting your foot under the rear bumper to open (and close) the tailgate.
On the road
Take the Grand Wagoneer out on the road and you quickly notice how quiet and, above all, how smooth the vehicle rides. Clearly, the independent rear suspension plays a big role there. Visibility is remarkable while the multiple driving aids can make the driver's job easier.
All Grand Wagoneers come with the aforementioned 6.4L HEMI V8, an engine similar to what’s under the hood of the big Ram 2500 Power Wagon, and which is very much at home in the big Jeep chassis. With its 471 hp and 8-speed automatic transmission, it can deliver 0-100 km/h acceleration in under 7 seconds, which is remarkable for an SUV weighing over 6,300 lb (2,857 kg).
The steering remains relatively precise even though it is light, while the braking is well adapted to the high weight of the SUV. My test drive took place during the first few days of January, and this Grand Wagoneer was (obligatorily in Quebec) equipped with rather large winter tires (Goodyear Winter Command 285/45 R22). Either they were really quiet by nature or the Grand Wagoneer was superbly well-insulated; one thing's for sure, these big shoes didn't invade the cabin with their sound during the highway portion of the drive. They also proved to be effective in both snow and ice.
In urban situations, the Grand Wagoneer is imposing, on par with a big short-bed pickup, but without being intimidating. Parking isn't as easy as with a subcompact, but thanks to the camera aids, it's still pretty easy to do, especially since the steering radius is relatively short for a vehicle of this size.
This being a Jeep product and given the off-road abilities that fact entails, it would have been tempting to tackle some challenging trails with the Grand Wagoneer (especially since the air suspension can be raised an additional 9 cm). However, my favourite trails were under a thick blanket of snow and not even accessible, so I had to give up the idea of testing this Jeep away from the pavement. Anyway, I can't see anyone who paid over $100,000 for their beautiful Grand Wagoneer attacking really rough trails.
On the other hand, on snowy roads, its four-wheel drive and technological driving aids are undeniable assets and help deliver a very reassuring drive. Incidentally, these same driving aids, including the adaptive cruise control, can help make this Jeep almost “autonomous”.
Consumption and cost
Hmm, right. Fuel consumption. If you're a fan of small, fuel-efficient cars or dreaming of an electric subcompact, skip this paragraph. Because if there's one thing the Grand Wagoneer doesn't deliver, it's reasonable fuel consumption! My week behind the wheel averaged 19.2L/100 km (in mixed driving, and in cold temperatures). Note that the Canadian EnerGuide estimates fuel consumption at 18.6L/100 km in the city, 12.8L on the highway and 16.0L on average... in ideal conditions!
Then there's the pricing, which I touched on earlier. My tester’s price tag of $130,270 included shipping and preparation fees ($2,595! ), special paint ($595), towing package ($1295), rear seat entertainment package ($2695), painted aluminum wheels ($1995) and... the $100 federal excise tax for air conditioning (created in the mid-1970s to “punish” motorists whose big V8s used a big compressor driven by the fan belt... a technology that doesn't exist today!).
Regardless of these two sets of head-shaking stats, early sales figures show that the Wagoneer / Grand Wagoneer duo is on its way in the market, despite the chip shortage that could mess with the availability of both models.
We've learned that Stellantis could abandon the HEMI V8 within the next few years (although we don't yet know if this engine will still exist for trucks), but there are also whispers in the industry that the automaker is preparing a new supercharged 6-cylinder that could very well be used for this Jeep model.
The North American continent is huge and its highway system lends itself to covering great distances by vehicle. And traveling in a Grand Wagoneer is certainly more inviting than doing so in a small car. Time will tell if this Jeep succeeds in imposing its presence among models like the Tahoe, Expedition, Escalade and Navigator. Don’t bet against it.
We like less
Greedy at the pump
Dimensions in urban driving