The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Is the Right Vehicle at the Wrong Time

It took Jeep more than a decade to deliver on its promise of an all-new Wagoneer. Now it's here, and it can barely top 12 mpg in real-world driving.

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Photo: Lawrence Hodge

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer shows Jeep is serious about taking on the luxury players in the full-size SUV game. It’s the most expensive, finely crafted vehicle the brand has ever created. It’s also hugely excessive in the worst ways.

Full Disclosure: After months of back and forth, Jeep finally got around to letting me get behind the wheel of the Grand Wagoneer. The company dropped it off with a full tank of gas. For a week, it hauled my family and things around in living-room comfort and luxury.

What Is It?

Before you look at what the Grand Wagoneer is, you have to look at the Jeep brand as a whole, and the reasoning behind this latest, largest model. Jeep is a gravy train for Stellantis. The brand prints money with sales of the Wrangler alone. Jeep is probably the most valuable brand under the Stellantis umbrella. But Stellantis wants to move Jeep upmarket, to play in the realm of Range Rovers and Escalades.

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The revival of the Wagoneer nameplate has been a long time coming, but Jeep seemed to take awhile to fully commit to the idea. A rough timeline:

  • January 2011: Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne announces the Grand Wagoneer, a new full-size SUV coming to market in 2013.
  • September 2013: FCA delays production of the Grand Wagoneer to give the recently introduced third-generation Dodge Durango (still on sale today) a chance in the market, avoiding a situation where two FCA three-row SUVs compete for the same buyers.
  • June 2015: FCA says it will show the Grand Wagoneer to dealers at a convention in August of that year.
  • August-September 2015: FCA announces that the Grand Wagoneer will be built at the same plant as the Ram 1500, but that the vehicle has been delayed until 2018.
  • October 2016: Teaser photos of a Grand Wagoneer prototype hit the internet. The vehicle seems to be based on the Durango. Jeep says it will go on sale for the 2019 model year.
  • December 2019: New spy shots show a Ram-based three-row Jeep SUV in testing.
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Finally, in September 2020, Jeep unveiled the huge, opulent Grand Wagoneer concept. Jeep told us it was intended for production for the ‘21 model year, and it would be the first six-figure Jeep.

Now, two years later, it’s here, and it’s huge. Technically speaking, this is the fourth-generation Jeep Wagoneer, and the first vehicle to wear that name in more than 30 years.

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The Wagoneer isn’t just a model, it’s a whole lineup of Jeeps. There’s the standard Wagoneer, a Tahoe or Expedition competitor. Next is the Grand Wagoneer, which is what I’ll be reviewing here. This goes up against the like of the BMW X7, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, or Mercedes GLS. On top of all that, for the 2023 model year, you can get your Wagoneer or Grand Wagoneer in extended-wheelbase form, denoted by the letter L.

Specs That Matter

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The Grand Wagoneer is ... huge. And for good reason. It’s a proper, old-school SUV underneath, built body-on-frame and using a modified version of the Ram 1500 platform. Somehow, the Grand Wagoneer seems bigger than a Ram in every dimension. It’s nearly 18 feet long, seven feet wide, with a wheelbase that’s just over 10 feet in length and a curb weight of 6,420 pounds. Even the doors are huge. Both front doors measure nearly four feet from front to back.

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To move all of that requires a worthy engine. While I was hoping to test out the new twin-turbo Hurricane straight six, that engine is only available on ‘23 model-year Wagoneers. The 2022 you see here makes due with V8 power.

Not just any V8, either. Jeep went and dropped in the same 6.4-liter V8 that powers every Scat Pack Charger or Challenger, along with the SRT Durango and Wrangler Rubicon 392. While it makes up to 485 horsepower in those applications, this SRT-darling engine is slightly detuned in the Grand Wagoneer, making 471 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. That gets mated to an eight-speed automatic and Jeep’s Qudra-Drive full-time four-wheel drive system.

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The combination is as thirsty as you’d expect. EPA ratings for the Grand Wagoneer are 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway, 15 combined. But that’s not what you’ll get in the real world.

Whatever you were thinking of regarding the Grand Wagoneer’s price, I’m betting you need to aim even higher. Including a $2,000 destination charge (Stellantis has the industry’s highest destination charges), pricing on the Grand Wagoneer starts at $90,640.

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There are three trims, called Series I, II, and III. Stellantis sent me a Grand Wagoneer Series III, loaded to the hilt. The Series III starts at $109,995. This thing has so many features I could write a post just about the options. I’m talking a 23-speaker McIntosh sound system, night vision with pedestrian and animal detection, tri-pane panoramic glass roof, beverage cooler in the front console, dual 10.1-inch second-row screens with built-in Amazon Fire TV. On and on. The total price of this particular Grand Wagoneer was a whopping $118,720.

What’s Good

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We need more blue interiors! When I found out that Jeep offered blue leather upholstery on the Grand Wagoneer, I was hoping I’d get to see it in person. And Jeep delivered.

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I mean look at this interior. It’s probably one of the best interiors Jeep has ever created. Everything feels high-quality and luxurious. From the quilted Palermo blue leather seats to the embossed metal interior accents (part of a $1,295 option package) that covered certain switches and dials in real metal, there’s a feeling of craftsmanship to the interior.

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There’s room to stretch out, too. With a total passenger interior volume of 179 cubic feet, there’s room in spades. The second-row legroom rivals what you’d get in a Rolls Royce Phantom. People of certain heights will be able to cross their legs without kicking or bumping anything, thanks to 42.7 inches of rear leg room in the second row.

What’s even more impressive is that actual, adult humans can sit comfortably in the third-row seats. There’s just over 36 inches of legroom in the way-back. Cargo volume is just as impressive. Jeep claims the Grand Wagoneer offers best-in-class cargo volume; if you skip the second-row captain’s chairs and center console seen on this example, you’ll have a New York City studio apartment’s worth of space with all the rear seats folded — 116.7 cubic feet in total. Opt for the rear console and captain’s chairs, and you give up 22.5 cubic feet of hauling room.

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This thing is luxurious as hell. There are features that will coddle, delight and cater to your every need: Four-zone climate control, 20-way adjustable power seats with heating and cooling for the first and second rows, massaging front seats with six different massage types and three intensity settings. As you walk up to the Grand Wagoneer, the air suspension lowers the vehicle for easier entry and exit. The running boards fold out and all the interior lights come on. It’s cheesy to say this, but the whole dance made me feel special about piling into the Grand Wagoneer.

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The Jeep even has a “relaxation mode,” best enjoyed at night. When activated, the three screens up front play relaxing images as soothing ambient light and peaceful, spa-like sounds envelope the cabin. You can display a crackling fireplace or a soothing aquarium on the dashboard screens, with the interior accent lighting echoing the color palette of what you’re watching.

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Jeep says there’s over 75 inches of screens inside the Grand Wagoneer. It sounds unbelievable until you see for yourself. Up front, the driver gets a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel that can show everything from a nav map to a live feed of the night vision camera. The center infotainment display is a 12-inch landscape-oriented monitor powered by Stellantis’s excellent UConnect system.

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Under that center screen is another 10.2-inch articulating touchscreen for climate control and the settings for the heated, ventilated, massaging seats. The climate control screen flips up with the touch of a button to reveal a wireless charging pad and seven different charging ports plus an HDMI port.

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The front seat passenger gets their own 10.2-inch touch screen display. While I thought it was gimmicky at first, it’s a godsend for parents. The shotgun touchscreen allows the front-seat passenger to control what’s playing on the rear FireTV displays, as well as the ability to lock out certain touchscreen settings for back-seat passengers. The front passenger can even monitor what’s going on behind them with the FamCam, a ceiling-mounted camera that lets you see the passengers in the second and third rows from a couple of different angles. The optional $2,195 rear entertainment group adds individual 10.1-inch touchscreens on the back of each front seat, so the kids can watch FireTV. Yet another screen adorns the second row console, offering controls for the rear climate and adjustments for the captain’s chairs.

What People Think

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No one knows this is a Jeep! You’d think the “Grand” in the name would tip off some more observant people, but in my week with the Grand Wagoneer, most people seemed to be left wondering just where this huge luxury SUV came from. And while the GRAND WAGONEER lettering is huge, I counted just four places on the the body where the Jeep name appears: in the headlight and taillight bezels and on the front and rear windscreens.

And while the Grand Wagoneer is gargantuan, the styling mostly works. The signature seven-slot grille provides some family connection to the rest of the Jeep lineup. While some may not care for the styling, it comes across as muscular and dominant. Strong.

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How It Drives

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I’ve made my dislike of SUVs known many times before. My mind hasn’t changed. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get the appeal of a commanding view of the road. In the Grand Wagoneer, I felt like I was at the helm of a ship. Simply put, this thing just dominates the road — and smoothly. While you’re very aware of the fact that this thing is a big, heavy beast, the steering and ride are plush. Jeep did an excellent job with the Qudra-Lift air suspension system, which soaks up every single bump and imperfection on the road. It’s a sleep inducing ride: Most of the passengers that rode with me in the Grand Wagoneer ended up dozing off on longer drives.

The Grand Wagoneer also defies logic with how quickly it can get up to speed. That 6.4-liter V8 is always eager to give you every horse it’s got on tap. While it wouldn’t make sense to talk understeer, skidpad g’s or braking distance in something like this, you need to understand: This thing will leave a wake of confused drivers in its dust coming off a red light. I figure it consistently does the sprint to 60 mph in around 5.5 seconds, which, for a three-ton family hauler, is wild.

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If you need to venture off-road, don’t worry: This is still a Jeep. The air suspension can raise up to provide a full 10 inches of ground clearance. And with drive modes for rocks, sand/mud, and snow, along with low-range 4WD and off-road pages that show wheel articulation and pitch/roll on the center dashboard screen, this thing seems like it could handle its own on a tough trail — if you didn’t mind the risk of scraping all that paint and chrome on some tree branches or rocks.

What’s Weak

Dear lord Jesus, this thing is thirsty. I never even touched the claimed EPA figures. In nearly 900 miles of driving, I averaged 11.8 mpg. The Grand Wagoneer has a 26.5-gallon fuel tank (which you’re required to fill with premium), but it struggled to come close to 300 miles of estimated range on a full tank. It took me nearly $90 to put half a tank in this thing.

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And if you want to save gas, Jeep’s advice to you is “drive slower.” This is one of the only new vehicles I’ve driven in recent years that doesn’t have some sort of Eco mode or fuel-saving drivetrain setting. The air suspension will drop down into its lowest “aero” mode on the highway, but that’s about it.

There were almost too many features in the Grand Wagoneer I sampled. And even though this vehicle was essentially brand-new, less than 5,000 miles on the clock, I encountered more than a few electrical gremlins.

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On three separate occasions, when I started the Jeep, the windshield wipers came on for no apparent reason. The wiper control stalk was set to OFF, and it didn’t seem to be any sort of automated luxury feature. After the third time, it never happened again. Once, when I started the Grand Wagoneer, I got a warning that Tow/Haul mode was faulting. After about five minutes of fiddling with various controls and settings, the problem corrected itself and never returned.

The UConnect system completely crashed one day as I was on the freeway. The center screen went completely dark for about 3 minutes before rebooting itself, during which my music kept playing, with me unable to change tracks or adjust the volume.

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The center display also had a glitchy way of starting up. When it’s working as designed, the central touchscreen plays a Grand Wagoneer-themed animation as the system boots up. I rarely got to see it — instead, the screen would flicker like a broken PC, showing flashes of pink, green, blue, and TV static. This happened every time I started the Jeep.

There were little quality issues too. The switches to open and close the panoramic sunroof and its sun shade both had “Auto” marked on them, but I couldn’t get any one-touch operation to work. And some of the haptic controls in the cabin were either too sensitive, or didn’t work at all. The worst was the haptic control for 4WD, which sits next to the rotary gear shift. The haptic was so sensitive, I accidentally engaged low-range 4WD on multiple occasions, even if the button had simply been grazed by a cloth lanyard.

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Finally, the touch-sensitive controls for the driver’s heated and ventilated seat, massage function, and heated steering wheel never worked for me. Even pressing hard, nothing happened. If I wanted any control over these features, I had to go into the center screen or the climate control screen beneath it to pull up these functions.

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Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Grand Wagoneer. It has distinctive, American styling, and it’s a hell of a first effort from a company that has never played in this price bracket before. I can honestly say I’d choose a Grand Wagoneer over a comparable Escalade, GLS or Navigator. The Jeep has a particular advantage over its American competitors: Unlike the top-dog luxury trucks from GM and Ford, the Grand Wagoneer is not a dressed-up version of a more affordable everyday SUV. When you buy a Grand Wagoneer, you’re getting something unequalled in the Stellantis lineup. That sets this vehicle apart.

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But the Grand Wagoneer is not without some major downsides. This is a mammoth machine, hard to park and difficult to maneuver in tight spots. And the fuel economy is atrocious, which is hard to swallow even as gas prices fall from their summer record highs.

It makes you wonder if Jeep might have been better off launching a new Grand Wagoneer eight or 10 years ago. Back when big, thirsty SUVs felt slightly less maliciously excessive. Jeep could have gently joined the full-size luxury field and worked its way up to the ostentatiousness of the vehicle you see here.

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Then again, the tactic of making a huge splash late in the game seems to be paying off: Jeep moved 3,932 Grand Wagoneers in the second quarter of this year. In total, the company has sold just over 7,000 Wagoneers thus far in 2022. For a domestic vehicle with a six-figure price tag and barely-double-digit MPG, that’s pretty impressive.

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Series III 4x4 Specs
Price starting at
$104,701
Horsepower
471 @ 6000
Torque
455 @ 4400
Displacement
6.4 L/392
Engine type
Premium Unleaded V-8
Transmission/Drive
Automatic w/OD
Curb weight
6420 lbs