Tag Archives: Grand Wagoneer

2022 Lexus LX 600 debuts

Upscale moves more upscale, but remains trail worthy …

In case you’re an affluent couple (think $320,000+ annual income) the luxury sport-utility market just got an upscale upgrade from Lexus.

The LX 600, the longtime Lexus luxury yacht, er SUV, has been remade for 2022 and is now rolling into dealerships. Lexus tells us they are moving the LX up a couple notches by modernizing its technology, cutting its weight, delivering a more fuel-efficient twin-turbo engine and offering a variety of seating options.

And yes, they are piling on the luxury features while going with five trim levels, including an F Sport model. All may stun you in a variety of ways, not least of which is pricing.

The new LX 600 will be the brand’s flagship model (trucks are more popular than cars) and they hope sales will respond to garner Toyota’s luxury make more market share in a growing segment where about 2 million units were sold in 2020. The market, Lexus reports, is growing about 2.5% a year and they hope to see the LX’s portion more than double from its current 3,500 units a year to about 9,000. Some of those, they are sure, will come from its former Land Cruiser buyers as the Cruiser has been discontinued. But don’t fret, all LX models will have full off-roading capability.

We’ll hope to get a new LX 600 sometime this summer for a test drive, but here are some of the highlights of the new model, which Lexus reassures will be reliably off-road worthy.

This is what the Ultra Luxury interior looks like. Mmmm, comfy!

Consider this for the 2022 model:

  • It will be 441 pounds lighter as it now features aluminum fenders, doors, hood and roof, that last bit a first for Toyota.
  • The trusty 5.7-liter V8 goes bye-bye to be replaced by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with way more torque and coupled with a fuel-saving 10-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage improves from roughly 14 mpg to 19 mpg with that engine and the substantial weight loss.
  • A 12.3-inch info screen will be featured above a 9-incher for all your electronic and entertainment needs.
  • Trims will be the Standard model for about $86,000, the Premium for $95 grand, the Luxury for $103 grand and Ultra Luxury for $126 grand. Then there is the F Sport in the middle, and like other F Sport trim models will feature improved handling and offer a sportier vibe and appearance. Starting price will be roughly $101,000. Affluent indeed!
  • The third row seats will power down flat now. Before they didn’t quite lay flat. Power for those seats starts with the Premium model, which Lexus expects to be its top seller. That will have heated and cooled front seats and heated steering wheel, plus heated outboard seats in row two.
  • F Sport (the Lexus Hero Vehicle) will get a different grille, sport-tuned suspension, semi-aniline leather seats, 22-inch wheels and cool Hadori aluminum trim, an exclusive to F Sport.
  • Luxury models will also have their own 22-inch wheels, soft-close doors, rear manual sun shades and a 25-speaker Mark Levinson audio system.
  • Ultra Luxury models will only have four seats to create a “chauffer” type experience that emphasizes second row comfort with massaging seats and a passenger-side fold up ottoman. Some of this was previously offered on the former flagship model, the LS sedan. Leather here will be diamond patterned and the second row captain’s chairs will recline 48 degrees. Active height control will be standard too, as will a rear seat entertainment system, plus everything that comes on the lower trim lines.
  • A special Appearance Package for the Premium and Luxury trims will offer a matte gray grille, dark gray roof rails and 18-inch matte gray alloy wheels along with black bumper trim. For the record 20-inch wheels are standard with 22-inchers available on most trims.
  • Expect to see a multi-racial advertising campaign starting in April that will target younger buyers as the average age for the LX now is 56, a year younger than the average for the Luxury SUV market.
  • Competitors include the Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, all new or having been revamped in the past year.

This update comes from a Zoom meeting with Lexus representatives speaking to the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

More details to come once we get our hands on one of these to test drive, but one can imagine the LX 600 will be quiet and comfy with enough bells and whistles to justify its price.

Photos are courtesy of Lexus

2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II

Giant Wagoneer moves Jeep WAY upscale …

Jeep’s massive new Wagoneer is its latest attempt at a halo vehicle, an upscale mount to lure hoity toity suburbanites looking for their third or fourth SUV to put in their 4-stall garage. Makes sense, profits are huge at this end of the market, just ask ALL the manufacturers.

But there were so many glitches and oddities that disturbed me with Jeep’s new Wagoneer (its last version sold in 1991) that I’m sure to be branded a Jeep heretic, a non-believer, a crabby old timer who probably didn’t suck down enough prune juice at breakfast.

I’m sorry if that’s what you think. I like many Jeeps and Wagoneer has many selling points. But it also has too many things that don’t make sense.

Incredibly Jeep also thinks so highly of its Wagoneer and, heaven help us, the even more upscale Grand Wagoneer, that it forgot to label this one a Jeep. That’s right, the only places you’ll find the Jeep brand name is inside the headlight fixtures and on the lower portion of the windshield.

That said, the Wagoneer name is spread across the hood and rear hatch, so it appears Jeep is making Wagoneer their upscale brand, like Lexus is to Toyota, Acura is to Honda, etc.

This latest rolling land fortress puts up impressive numbers though.

First, it is 214.7 inches long, rides on a 123-inch wheelbase, 22-inch tires, and weighs more than 5,900 pounds. That translates into a full-size SUV capable of hauling eight people, or just seven if one opts for captain’s chairs in row two instead of a bench. Unlike many 3-row SUVs though, there is ample room in row three for adults, while still leaving decent cargo room behind that third row.

This bad boy is Big with a capital B, front to rear and side to side.

On the power front Jeep opts for its 392-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8, no sissified turbo V6 for this man handler. It’s got plenty of grunt and will tow up to 10.000 pounds.

I hesitate to say this, but you CAN get more power with the Grand Wagoneer that packs a throbbing 471-horse 6.4-liter V8. Of course you’ll pay more and as the Wagoneer earns just a 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway rating from the EPA, imagine your fuel bill for the Grand now that we’re beyond $4 a gallon. I paid $68 for a ¾ tankful in a week’s drive (before gas prices skyrocketed), which came to 15.3 mpg vs. 16 on the trip computer. About half was highway driving.

Watch the video: Mark reviews the new super-big Jeep Wagoneer – YouTube

Ok, so gas mileage is my first bugaboo, and the low number comes despite Wagoneer having an eTorque 48-volt mild hybrid system with cylinder deactivation and variable cam timing to improve gas mileage. Seems a regular hybrid system would be called for in such a big beast, but so far that’s not offered.

Off-road ability is good. Wagoneer will ford 2 feet of water, but it’s not Trail-Rated, at least yet. There are five traction settings adjusted by a toggle on the console. Those include Auto, which is the default, Sport (in a Jeep?), Sand/Mud, Rock, and Snow.

Here’s my bugaboo though. We had snow during my test drive and I drove 20+ miles in that setting, which provided good grip. But after a stop for several hours I came back out and engaged Wagoneer’s Snow mode again (the Jeep resets automatically to Auto each time the ignition is turned off) and after 5 minutes the system flashed a dash light warning that 4WD was disabled and it remained that way for the rest of my 20-mile drive. Hmmm! Disabled just as I needed it. Not helpful. For the record, the next day after the car had rested overnight the system worked fine. Glitch?

Add this glitch to that. Same night, and while the heat settings were all in the 70-degree range, and the dual system set to Auto, after 10 minutes there was no heat. After futzing with the info screen for several minutes to adjust where the heat was to come from – vents, and turning the fan all the way up, just five settings, I finally got heat to move. A few minutes later I shifted it back to Auto, but still no fan action. Next day, it was fine. Hmmm, glitch No. 2!

No Jeep labeling back here, this is just a Wagoneer … a new luxury brand?

Let’s move on to looks. I like the Wagoneer’s nose as it features the usual 7-slot Jeep grille, but from the side and rear the Wagoneer looks like a block of steel that was cut into a rectangle and put on wheels. Yawn!

For those who like bling and who appreciate their, and Jeep’s American heritage, designers place small chrome US flags on both front doors next to the Wagoneer logo. I had one veteran question the taste of using the flag on a non-military vehicle. You be the judge.

Here’s that U.S. flag emblem, another Wagoneer badge, plus a much-needed running board.

Inside there’s no arguing the comfort and room. This feels like your great uncle’s leather-chair filled den on wheels. Head and legroom are generous throughout, that square roofline helping give tall folks oodles of noggin space. Seats are well formed and comfy and both the front and second row seats are heated, as is the steering wheel. Bravo! Front seats also are cooled.

No denying this is a leathery luxury interior, with all the fixins!

Sadly, like most new vehicles that are controlled through a giant touchscreen, and buttons surrounding said screen, the heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel and those for the passenger, along with whatever drive mode you’ve selected, all need to be reset after every engine shutdown. First-world problem to be sure, but in my 5-year-old Subaru, and in many cars with manual seat-heat buttons they stay on the setting you place them in so when you turn the vehicle back on they do NOT need to be reset. In an $83 grand truck (yes, that’s the price) I’d expect the electronics to be smart enough to remember previous settings.

Big touchscreen? Oh yeah! Virtually all functions, even heated seats, go through it.

Not aiming this rant solely at the Wagoneer, but at many high-end info screen controlled vehicles. Also it’s hard to turn these heated items on if you are wearing gloves, the most likely time you’ll need to turn them on.

One final rant, or two, on the electronics, the seats sometimes turn themselves off, assuming you’ve warmed. However, in sub-zero temps seats are Not always so warm after 10-15 minutes. Likewise defrosters should never turn themselves off. Those of us in northern climes need these on all winter, no defaults to off please. Oh, and the five-pane instrument panel screen is way too much info and way too hard to adjust to the way a driver may like it. Interior designers need to know that folks live in cold climates and need buttons to work when a person is wearing gloves and that most of us don’t have time to program our basic instrument panel like we’re working on a 25-inch monitor.

On the plus side there is plenty more though. That screen is huge, there’s a giant sunroof overhead and a second smaller one with manual shade over the third row. The stereo is a 950-watt McIntosh with 19 speakers and 3D surround system, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.  Inside this black leather-lined, fake gray wood-trimmed interior is quiet as your uncle’s den too. Wind and tire noise are minimal.

There’s a third-row seat with plenty of room.

The hatch is powered and sometimes opens when you just walk by it, and there are even power adjusted pedals to help us shorties get the accelerator to where we like it. A power tilt/telescope steering wheel is standard too as is all the electronic safety equipment we’ve come to expect, like emergency braking, a 360-degree camera, blind-spot warning, smart cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Oh, on that, the Wagoneer also chimed at me to “Put Hands On Wheel,” but they already were, just a smidge above the 10 and 2 positions. Hmmm, glitch No. 3!

There is a wireless phone charger here, along with manual side window sun shades for the second row, plus the second row seats slide forward to create more third-row passenger room or cargo space. Wagoneer has 8 USB ports standard, or 11 if you buy the rear-seat entertainment package for $2,195.

Need cargo space, not seat space? Fold row three down flat. Bingo!

That leads us to cost, and again, Wagoneer is intended for the upper echelon buyer. This Series II model starts at $72,995 including $2,000 for delivery (Wow!) and $3,000 for 4-wheel drive. Jeep added $9,930 is options, but didn’t specified for what in its pricing info.

Total was $82,925, country club membership not included. A rear-drive Series I model (not available at this posting) is to start at $59,995 including delivery. A Series III model with air suspension, HUD and Quadra-Trac II AWD lists at $78,995.

That’s not out of line with the likes of GMC’s Yukon Denali, Lincoln’s Navigator or Cadillac’s Escalade. All are mammoth and so luxurious that it’s unlikely any will ever go off-roading. But isn’t that what a Jeep is for?

FAST STATS: 2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II 4×4

Hits: A Jeep on steroids, off-road capability, five drive modes, solid V8 power with huge tow ability, will carry up to 8 passengers. Giant sunroof plus smaller one for row 3, power hatch, the usual safety equipment and 4WD, naturally. Super quiet interior with oodles of leather, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, heated second row seats. Power adjustable pedals and steering wheel, comfy seats, giant touchscreen. 

Big console and row two folks get controls too!

Misses: Huge and so luxurious it likely will never go off-road. Screen and electronic controls, such as heated seats, all reset after ignition is off. Bummer! AWD function disabled itself during a snowstorm, apparently a mistimed glitch. Hard to engage seat climate buttons when wearing gloves and they turn themselves off when they shouldn’t. 5-panel electronic instrument screen way too complex to use while driving, overly complex in general.

Made in: Warren, Mich.

Engine: 5.7-liter HEMI V8, 392 hp/404 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 5,960 lbs.

Wheelbase: 123 in.

Length: 214.7 in.

Cargo: 27.4-70.8-116.7 cu.ft.

Even the tow hooks are giant!

Tow: 10,000 lbs.

MPG: 15/20

MPG: 15.3 (tested)/16.0 (computer)

Base Price: $72,995 (includes delivery and AWD)

Invoice: $71,875

Major Options:

Not fully listed by Jeep, but total $9,930

Test vehicle: $82,925

Sources: Jeep, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

FALL RALLY DRIVES & Videos


MAMA Fall Rally: So many vehicles, so little time …

Once or twice a year, lately depending on the Covid threat, Midwest auto writers gather their helmets and egos before snagging seat time in the latest new machines from the top automakers.

I use that term loosely because, to be honest, most of the vehicles that they make, and we drive, are trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. So be it.

This October we spent nearly two days at Road America, the National Park of Speed, near beautiful Elkhart Lake, Wis., at what’s called the MAMA Fall Rally, MAMA standing for Midwest Automotive Media Association. That’s us Midwest journalists who cover the auto industry year-round.

The Toyota Supra makes for sharp eye candy, while the new electric Mazda MX-30 rests in back.

The gig is we can take a few choice vehicles, usually the fast and furious type stuff, onto the Road America racecourse. Awesome! Second, we can take most of the vehicles around the access roads at the race track, or out on the surrounding highways and byways, always being mindful of the local constabulary.

So this year my videographer and co-driver Paul Daniel and I jumped in a bunch of these newbies to snag videos for you, driving impressions for me to use in reviews, and photos to share now and later of the new sheet metal, and plastic.

Here’s a quick look at some of our drives

Karma GS-6

This is a series electric like the former Chevy Volt (too bad it got axed) where there’s a gas engine, but it’s used to charge the batteries so the Karma is powered by electric motors only. But the gas gives it a sizeable range, more than 300 miles. This is a full-on luxury, think Gran Turismo like a Maserati Trofeo Ghibli, or such. Cost is $100 grand and change, nearly $110,000 here. For more, watch this video.

Here’s the new Jeep Compass, sharp, but it’s the interior that will impress.

New Jeeps:  Jeep Grand Cherokee L, Grand Wagoneer, Compass

Paul here, our resident Jeep guy. Jeep has been busy this year launching or will be launching a bunch of new vehicles this year. They enter the three-row SUV category with the Grand Cherokee L. That’s right three rows of seats and seats that can actually seat somebody older than your fourth grader. They are also in the process of updating the Compass which competes in the compact SUV category. I was impressed with the pre-production model I drove and it should help improve its ratings. See the video.

New Grand Cherokee L. L stands for lots of room.

Grand Wagoneer though was Jeep’s biggest launch, literally with a wheelbase of 123 inches. It’s also the highest priced Jeep in the lineup with the top model going for almost $105,000. You’ll note the Jeep name isn’t on the vehicle anywhere though, just Grand Wagoneer.

The interior is nothing short of spectacularly packed with leather and wood (real wood) and all the tech you could possibly imagine. Digital displays line the dashboard. The one in front of the passenger will, say you’re looking for a place to eat, search places nearby, get directions, and then swipe it over to the driver’s side. This stuff is straight out of the movie Ironman. The only thing missing is the woodgrain exterior paneling from the original. Somebody will do that. Check out our video here. 

Jeep grand wagoneer
The only thing missing is the woodgrain paneling on the new Grand Wagoneer.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 392

I’m excited that Ford brought back the Bronco. Competition improves the breed and even though I’m a Jeep guy, somebody nipping at their heels will make them bring new options to the market. Case in point, the big V8 that Jeep pounded into the Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. I got a chance to take it off-road. The rumble alone gives this a huge cool factor, something Bronco doesn’t have, yet. Ride along with me here. Notice the big grin on my face.

Jeep wrangler 392
Paul after his muddy ride in the 392 beast.

Jeep’s First Hybrid, the Wrangler 4xe

Who would have ever imagined a hybrid Jeep much less a Wrangler? It’s here and the number one selling hybrid to boot. I drove this after getting out of the 392 and the first thing I noticed was the sound or lack of it. It was super quiet, but handled the muck, mud, and rocks just as well as the 392. Jeep’s new plug-in-hybrid Wrangler promises 375 horsepower and 49 MPGe. It will get to 60 in just under seven seconds, not too shabby.

The 4xe is the second-most powerful Wrangler behind the 392 V8 model, and the most fuel-efficient if you pay attention. The hybrid powertrain and battery add significant weight, offsetting the Wrangler 4xe’s performance potential and gas-only fuel economy. Fail to plug in the Jeep Wrangler 4xe regularly, and you not only give up all of its advantages, but without the battery charged, it returns poorer fuel economy than a regular four-cylinder Wrangler. However, keep the battery charged with a 220v outlet and you’ll be in for a treat. The other treat is the $7,500 tax credit you get for going green in this Jeep. Thanks Uncle Sam!

hybrid jeep, wrangler 4xe
New Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Hyundai Santa Cruz

New Santa Cruz. Lots of fun in a small package, plus a pickup bed.

I should have one of these non-pickup pickups shortly for a full drive. This cutie is based on Hyundai’s fine Tucson crossover, but with a pickup bed in the back. Yet it’s stylish and will hold four adults easily with good rear-seat room. It also drives and rides like a crossover, which is its base. Look for this and the new Ford Maverick compact pickup to duke it out for sales. Check out our quick walk-around video.

Subaru’s restyled BRZ sports car has the power and the handling!

Subaru BRZ

This is a cousin to Toyota’s 86. Both are 2+2 sports cars for the economy-minded, but who want generous power and sports car handling. Rare I know. But the BRZ was a hoot on the track, handling great, easy to point into corners, decent brakes, and plenty of grunt from its new naturally aspirated 2.4-liter boxer engine, thanks to Subaru. That belts out 228 horsepower and sounds much racier than you might imagine. Can’t wait for a week’s drive in this baby!

Alfa’s Giulia is one fine driving sports sedan, and its nose looks racy too!

Alfa Romeo Giulia QV

Not many Fiats or Alfas even offered by Stellantis in this country. Who’s Stellantis? That’s the conglomerate that owns Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Chrysler.

Anyway, the Giulia is a delight to drive, with very quick handling, and excellent sports sedan ride. It feels tight and well-made, despite what you might have heard. Power is kick-ass quick and with a rip-roaring tone too, and there’s an 8-speed automatic to put the power down efficiently too. Manuals are fun, but today’s automatics shift quicker than mere mortals. Alfa says 0-60 mph flies by in 3.8 seconds. I can’t argue with that.

VW’s new ID.4 is pure electric and delivers 260 miles of range on a charge.

Volkswagen ID.4

VW is all-in on electric vehicles, both in Europe and here in the States and its ID.4 is its first foray into full electric. It’s a compact crossover with 260 miles of range and VW will pay for your first three years of fast charges wherever you need them. Nice! From a looks standpoint, ID.4 is a middler, with no real standout looks. But then it also doesn’t look like a Prius or Insight to scream that it’s eco-friendly. By the numbers, it’s got good power at 295 horses and 339 lb.-ft. of torque, which VW says does 0-60 in 5.4 seconds. Respectable!

Driving it was fun, although the funky gear selector on the side of the instrument pod takes a lot of getting used to. Power is good, handling fine and ride seems OK, although a longer drive is upcoming so I’ll know more then. AWD also is available and at $43,675 VW is happy to point out this is the least expensive AWD EV. Possible the ID.4 will get VW back in the game in the US.

The NX has new styling and is loaded with sensors and gizmos that make it special.

Lexus NX

While the former NX was a nice small crossover it didn’t strike me as anything special, considering it’s a Lexus. I considered it a fancy Rav4. But it has been reworked and electrically gizmotized to a major degree. It’ll let you know, for instance, if a bicyclist is riding by so you won’t open a door in front of the cyclist. So more beeps and whistles that some will love. I can do without that, but the ride is sublime, handling quick and responsive and the interior concert hall quiet. Now it IS special.

Compact pickups are a coming thing and Ford’s Maverick is cutting edge!

Ford Maverick FX4

I remember when Mavericks were cheap Ford cars, now it’s a compact pickup like Ford Rangers used to be before they grew up to be as big as an old F-150. But the Maverick will sell like weed at a rock concert because it truly is a useful small pickup and starts about $20 grand. Bingo, this is exactly what folks have been asking for for years. Very capable, easy handling, good ride and if you go hybrid (brilliant idea!) it’s rated now at 42 mpg by the EPA. This is gonna be a monster hit!

Doesn’t get much cooler than this rocket-like BMW.

BMW M440i xDrive Gran Coupe

BMW uses a carbon fiber seat in the M440i.

Trust me, everyone at the rally wanted to get a little seat time in this beast. The color alone assured you were taking a trip down the Hot Wheels track at about a 75-degree angle. Power? Oh yeah! How’s 503 horsepower grab you and delivered to all four wheels. Twin-turbo power is said to do 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds and I believe it. This is a rocket, but with giant discs to slow it just as quickly. Handling? It’s a BMW. Nuff said. And I LOVED the racy carbon fiber seats that were as comfy as a luxury sedan, but waaaay more supportive. Hope I get to test this one for a week sometime!

Bronco is finally here and the Wildtrak is made for off-roading.

Ford Bronco Wildtrak 4-door

Yes, that spelling is right as car makers love funky spellings of common words. A lot of folks have been waiting for Bronco and it’s slowly making its way into the market. The 4-door version looks all the world to me like a Land Rover and Ford assures us it’ll go off-roading like a champ. It offers a roof that folds back like a Jeep too, and despite looking like a monster truck, it’s easy to handle and drives smaller than it is. Bravo. Power is from a 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 310 horsepower with the turbo kicking out 400 lb.-ft. of torque. Love this new SUV! Here’s a quick walk-around video.

Mazda’s first EV, the MX-30, features clamshell doors for easy rear-seat access.

Mazda MX-30

First, Mazda took its stellar CX-30 compact crossover and then dropped in an electric power system to make its first EV. Like the CX-30 (my car of the year for 2021) it handles great and rides well. But the electric power makes it super quiet and peppy off the line, well, much like the CX-30, but with electrons running things instead of gas. Basically, it’s quick, handles, and rides well. Need more? Its other different feature is clamshell rear doors which create a nice large opening for folks to climb in the rear seats. Range is 130 miles, so better than some EVs, but not up to Tesla or Mustang Mach E standards. The good news, a hybrid model is said to be coming soon.

Sharp styling and a broad price range means there’s a Tucson to fit most budgets.

Hyundai Tucson

First, the Tucson has been restyled and looks as sharp as the rest of the Hyundai lineup. Plus running from $25,000 to $35,000 for starting prices and including a sporty N Line model, it is family-friendly. I like its ride and handling in particular as some compact crossovers can be a little severe in ride quality sometimes. Power is decent too with a 2.5-liter I4 delivering 187 horses, plus this cockpit is sharp looking too.

Love traditional V8 power? A Mustang Mach 1 is a track-seeking missile.

Ford Mustang Mach 1

OMG, this is muscle car madness at its finest if you still love the roar of a gasoline-powered V8, and really, who doesn’t? I won’t go into all the details here. I’ll just say this, 480 horsepower at less than $55,000. Top speed 168 mph and on the track it’s more fun than a human should be allowed to experience, well, almost. For a full review: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Premium | Savage On Wheels

Plenty of spunk and sporty handling in the Mazda3 hatchback. Zoom, zoom!

Mazda3 Turbo

Nothing new and exciting here, but the Mazda3 hatch was already exciting and still is one of the coolest sports hatches in the world. Had this one on the track and did 110 mph easily on a long straightaway and man this baby handles too. Needs performance tires naturally, but the 2.5-liter turbo I4 cranks 250 horses and sounds like it means business at high revs. AWD gives it super traction too!