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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tow: 10,000 lbs.
MPG: 15.3 (tested)/16.0 (computer)
Base Price: $72,995 (includes delivery and AWD)
Not fully listed by Jeep, but total $9,930
Test vehicle: $82,925
Sources: Jeep, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage