The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is like Icarus. It just flew too close to the sun. In aiming for the luxury leaders, I found the Grand Wagoneer lacking when I drove it during the summer of 2021. Its rough ride and lack of power overshadowed the sumptuous cabin and advanced tech.
As it turns out, a little less grand works for the Wagoneer. A week with the standard model reveals that the first full-size three-row from America's off-road icon fits far better in the mainstream segment than its upscale counterpart does in the luxury ranks. I wouldn't buy a Grand Wagoneer over a Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, or the holy grail of luxury SUVs, the Land Rover Range Rover, but the plain-Jane Wagoneer would have a good shot at my money if I were a Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition shopper.
Gallery: 2022 Jeep Wagoneer: Pros And Cons
Cabin Is Still Super Plush
Jeep could park a Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer side by side and it’d still be a struggle to see what’s changed in the cabin. This is, by no small margin, the plushest, most attractive interior in the class. It features the same overall design, rich in leather, wood, and metal accents. You lose the lower of the two central displays, but good riddance as the physical controls are more intuitive. The fit and finish in this cabin is where it's at.
The 12-way seats are 50 percent as adjustable and 100 percent as comfortable as the Grand Wagoneer’s. And the second and third row are as roomy too, although you'll lose out on the standard second-row captain's chairs (they're a $795 option) and the power-operated third row. Still, on the whole the Wagoneer's cabin is fantastic.
Ride Quality, Performance Benefit From Mainstream Positioning
I struggled with the Grand Wagoneer because its 6.4-liter V8 had to manage the vehicle's immense 6,400-pound weight. The standard Wagoneer is hardly a featherweight, with four-wheel-drive examples tipping the scales at 6,190 pounds and 6,230 pounds in Series II and Series III guise, respectively. And with just 392 horsepower and 404 pound-feet of torque from the 5.7-liter V8/mild-hybrid combo, it's down 79 ponies and 51 lb-ft on the Grand.
But the mainstream positioning softened my expectations. Both the Ford Expedition's twin-turbocharged V6 and Chevrolet's optional 6.2-liter V8 feel more energetic, but relative to the standard 5.3-liter Chevy Tahoe, the Grand Wagoneer is at least in the same ballpark. There's strong off-the-line pull and a good noise as the revs climb, although I did need to dip rather far into the pedal in situations where modest pressure would have gotten a Ford or Chevy moving adequately.
Similarly, the rough ride of the Grand Wagoneer is more tolerable in a non-luxury offering. Unburdened by comparisons to Range Rovers and Escalades, the Wagoneer's optional air suspension plays second fiddle only to a loaded-up Tahoe with air springs and magnetic dampers. Sounds from the underbody – the suspension soaking up bumps and the slap of my tester's optional 22-inch wheels and 285/45 tires – were appropriately muted to dull thuds, while the big Jeep felt poised and stable on Detroit's pockmarked streets.
With Uconnect 5 and a standard 10.1-inch central touchscreen, the Wagoneer's tech suite would already earn high marks thanks to the beautiful graphics and crisp response times. But add in the standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a segment-leading rear-seat entertainment system with built-in Amazon Fire TV, and a killer active safety suite that will eventually add hands-free driving? That all makes the Wagoneer a technophile's dream. My tester was missing the passenger display, but everything else was on deck and performed well during a week of work.
I also need to pay tribute to the excellent 19-speaker McIntosh audio system. which I missed dearly during my test. The Alpine system in this tester was fine, but it lacked the McIntosh's clarity and all-encompassing presence. The bad news is that Jeep bundled this system in a $6,000 option package, so the good tunes require quite a lot of money.
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I didn't experience any of the connectivity issues Seyth had during his Grand Wagoneer road trip, but I did encounter a repeated glitch with the touch-capacitive button for the driver's heated seat. It froze up and refused to accept new inputs throughout my week at the wheel, which is downright infuriating given Michigan’s frosty winter weather.
Doubly annoying was the seat heater's tendency to simply shut off after just a couple minutes of running. I covered nearly 200 miles during my time with the Jeep and I'd estimate the seat heaters worked for approximately 20 percent of that despite constant below-freezing temperatures.
Typically, I wouldn't rant about something like this – it usually warrants just a passing mention. But multiple Motor1.com staffers have encountered these sorts of frustrating bugs with Jeep's latest products, be it Seyth's connectivity woes, the infotainment totally crashing on me during the Grand Wagoneer first drive, or more mild problems like this. Jeep needs to get things in order.
Relaxed Performance Makes Inefficiency Stand Out
Don't let marketing fool you, the mild-hybrid part of the Wagoneer's powertrain is a fig leaf. This thing is a 6,200-pound box with a thirsty V8 engine and the economy figures to match. With four-wheel drive, you'll see 15 miles per gallon city, 20 highway, and 17 combined. That does match the 5.3-liter Chevy Tahoe and beats the 6.2, but Bowtie Buyers have an alternative with the thrifty 3.0-liter turbodiesel. Ford, meanwhile, enjoys a modest advantage at 16 city, 22 highway, and 18 combined thanks to its smaller V6.
Still, the Jeep's poor efficiency clashes with its more restrained straight-line punch. I can tolerate a thirsty engine if I'm quicker than the competition, but the Jeep simply isn't that.
Pricier Than Chevy, Ford Rivals (But It's Worth It)
Prices for the Wagoneer start at $60,995 (including a huge $2,000 destination charge), while Series II featured here demands $71,640 and the Series III comes in at $76,640. Add a hefty $3,000 to any of those figures for four-wheel drive and there's little arguing that the Jeep is damn pricey. And you know what? I'd happily pay it.
Yeah, I could save some coin by going for all but the top-spec Expedition Platinum ($83,650 with four-wheel drive and $1,795 destination included) or with any version of the Chevy Tahoe. A Tahoe High Country with 4WD and the excellent 6.2-liter V8 comes in at $75,795 and is especially tempting. But neither Chevy nor Ford can match the Wagoneer's tech experience (despite the bugs) or its beautiful, cut-above cabin. There's real value here, especially if the six-figure price tag puts you off the Grand Wagoneer.
Wagoneer Competitor Reviews:
2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II 4x4