- Resembles the pricier Grand Wagoneer
- Rides like it, too
- Decontenting is easy to live with
- Chintzy-looking “wood-grain”
- Too thirsty
- Exterior design falls flat
Is the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer a bargain Grand Wagoneer, or is the latter an over-tinseled and ambitiously marked-up Wagoneer? Our judges pondered this question during more than a week of testing and deliberation, and it’s one the market will ultimately answer. If the Grand resonates with the pop culture elite and country club set like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator have, it’ll pull Wagoneer sales up, but if the hoi polloi flock to the Wagoneer, the swells could shun the Grand. One thing we mostly agreed on is that the $20,000-plus price difference separating like trim levels represents a defensible gap in performance and poshness.
On the performance front, our loaded Wagoneer Series III weighed 20 pounds more than our Series III Grand Wagoneer, thanks in part to the weight added by the battery and motor-generator of its eTorque mild hybrid engine. So it’s no surprise the 5.7-liter’s 21 percent deficit in weight-to-power causes the Wagoneer to lose the quarter-mile race to its 6.4-liter stablemate by 1.7 seconds and 11.3 mph.
But drivers are somewhat less inclined to pedal vehicles this large at wide-open throttle, so several staffers described the Wagoneer’s power and torque as perfectly adequate while noting the EPA fuel economy improvement of 2 mpg over the Grand. Even so, at 15/20/17 mpg, this one didn’t win many points for efficiency.
Ride quality is deemed vastly more important in this class than cornering prowess, and our Wagoneer came standard with the Grand’s Quadra-Lift air springs. They’re a $3,790 upgrade on the Series II Wagoneer, and they earn big engineering excellence points. Editorial operations director Mike Floyd was “stunned” by how well it rides. “It’s one of the industry’s really exceptional vehicles in that respect,” he said. Of course, it also shares the Grand’s officious stability control system, but drivers invoked it less with the milder engine. One last performance plus: The Wagoneer doesn’t quite earn a Trail Rated badge, but it can be had with all-terrain tires in an 18- or 20-inch spec, while every Grand comes on all-season rubber.
On the poshness front, we imagine a huge hunk of that $20,000 premium pays for the upgrade from the Wago’s “shiny gray plastic driftwood” to the Grand’s incredible inlaid waxed walnut trim, and for front seats that offer five massages at three intensity levels. (These features helped make a finalist of the Grand.) Wagoneer customers also get fewer screens and stereo speakers, Nappa leather instead of swankier Palermo hides, and no fridge in the center console (but a proper safe is available). There’s also no Active Driving Assist, which should soon be upgradable to GM Super Cruise-type hands0-free functionality, and several editors lamented the standard “active lane management” system’s propensity to pinball between lines.
We mostly agreed the Wagoneer’s feature content and luxury is more than competitive with its direct GM and Ford competition, while its 10,000-pound towing capacity and 179 cubic feet of passenger space are superior. It’s in our design and efficiency criteria where the Wagoneer struggled most in this year’s competition. Bottom line: This is a bargain Grand Wagoneer.
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