I came of age in the 1970s, a time of dark wood paneling, shag carpet and the Brady Bunch. It was also the time when the oil embargo shattered all the dreams of cheap gas and changed the American automotive market forever. Cars got smaller, more fuel efficient, and well, just plain ugly.
My best friend turned 16 a year before me which meant I had to put up with him bragging about how he could now drive legally, and I couldn’t. I really didn’t mind too much, after all it was better than walking.
His parents had one of the odder vehicles of the decade, a Jeep Wagoneer. It was a boxy, loud, cavernous sort of truck with a cover over where the bed would be. It also had fake wood decals on the side. For two teenage boys however, it was fine. We spent many a night at the drive in, and when girls were discovered, the Wagoneer was perfect for, well I’ll leave that to your imagination.
The years passed and the Wagoneer faded from my view, though not my memory, and Jeep discontinued it in 1994.
Well, it’s back. Boy is it ever.
Jeep reintroduced the Wagoneer for 2022 and sent me one for a recent week. And honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.
There’s a standard Wagoneer and a Grand Wagoneer. I was sent the Grand version for my week. The Wagoneer is Jeep’s new flagship SUV with the Standard Wagoneer going head-to-head with the likes of the Chevy Tahoe and the Ford Expedition, while the Grand Wagoneer is up against vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade and the Lincoln Navigator.
The Grand Wagoneer has three trim levels: Series I, II, and III. The base Series I is luxurious, and the levels move to lavish, and culminate in over-the-top. Being a Jeep all offer a sophisticated 4WD system and associated mode selection that gives the Grand Wagoneer distinctive off-road capabilities.
Under the hood the Grand Wagoneer gets a 471-hp V-8 cranking out 455 lb-ft of torque thorough an 8-speed automatic.
The first time I saw it parked, I thought, ‘what a nice looking, big, vehicle.’ When I opened the door and the step automatically came out and I climbed in, the only thing I could mutter was what the kids are fond of saying these days:
This certainly isn’t a Jeep Wagoneer of old. The interior is huge, the pleasant smell of leather greeted me, and I would later learn that my Series III tester had the upgraded Palermo leather-trimmed seating option with quilting and leather-wrapped instrument panel.
I was able to find just the right seating position thanks to the 24-way power front seats with power lumbar support and four-way powered headrests, which by the way included a massage feature. There is no fake wood here: the interior features genuine wood accents, and high-tech features, like a 12.3-inch fully digital gauge cluster along with customizable ambient interior lighting, and the center stack, which packs a 12.0-inch center touchscreen that sits above a 10.3-inch touchscreen with controls for the HVAC system and seats. Starting on the Series II, there’s yet another 10.3-inch touchscreen for the front-seat passenger as well.
The second-row captain’s chairs feature a middle stack for touch screen HVAC controls and controls for the entertainment system with screens in the back of the front seat headrests.
Every Grand Wagoneer has an amazing sounding McIntosh stereo, but the Series II and up get a more powerful 1375-watt unit with 23 speakers which sounds even more amazing.
My top-of-the-line tester also had a head-up display, a camera-fed rearview mirror, and rear-seat monitoring system that displays a video feed onto the central touchscreen. And the cargo area behind the third-row measures 27 cubic feet and stowing it provides 71 cubic feet behind the second row, meaning small children could get lost in there. All told there are 75 cumulative screen inches that all manage to present info. My tester also had the optional a passenger movie screen that remains invisible to the driver and a “relax mode” visible to all when parked, which can display things like a crackling fireplace.
Jeep ups the tech game with the latest Uconnect 5 software which acts more like an Android mobile device. It has Amazon Alexa integration and enables two wireless phone connections simultaneously and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported. In the back passengers have the dual-entertainment display and a central touchscreen for the seats and climate controls. Both the front passenger and rear entertainment screens have multiple input options and apps, including Amazon Fire TV, which allows users to pick up where they left off on shows they were watching at home.
On the road the 471 horsepower V-8 brought the pound Grand Wagoneer from 0-60 in just 5.7 seconds. While it’s not “Trail Rated” there is little doubt this Grand Wagoneer could play in the mud better than its rivals and has such features as an adaptive air suspension that can raise its ride height up to 3.6 inches or lower it by a half-inch.
My only regrets during my week were that I didn’t have a chance to take it off road, or on a road trip, either of which would suit this vehicle just fine. Sure, the fuel mileage isn’t something to cheer about, nor is the six-figure price tag for the top-of-the-line Series III, but for those shopping the Escalade and Navigator markets, this Grand Wagoneer deserves a look. Those buyers might dismiss anything with a “Jeep” name badge, but they would be missing out on a large luxury SUV that frankly blows the competition out of the water.
The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Series III 4X4
MSRP (as tested): $106,990
Engine: 6.4L port-injected OHV 16-valve 90-degree V-8, 471 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 455 lb-ft torque @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 13 city, 18 highway, 15 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 17 mpg
Curb Weight: 6326 lbs.
Exterior Dimensions (inches)
Length, overall: 214.7
Width, Max w/o mirrors: 83.6
Height, overall: 75.6
Ground clearance: 6.4
Passenger Volume: 179 ft3
Front head room: 41.3 in.
Front hip room: 63.4 in.
Front leg room: 40.9 in.
Front shoulder room: 66.1 in.
Rear head room: 40.0 in.
Rear hip Room: 63.0 in.
Rear leg room: 42.7 in.
Rear shoulder room: 65.2 in.
Cargo Volume: 27 ft3
Maximum cargo capacity: 116.7 cu.ft.
Maximum payload: 1,560 lbs.
Maximum towing capacity: 10,000 lbs.
Basic: 3 years / 36000 miles
Powertrain: 5 years / 60000 miles
Corrosion: 5 years / Unlimited miles