2022 Grand Wagoneer: As big as it looks, but it doesn’t feel

2022 Grand Wagoneer Obsidian 4×4 vs. 2022 Lexus LX600 Luxury: A nasty fight.

This week: Grand Wagoneer.

Award: $109,025 as tested. $3,295 Convenience Group adds night vision, cross-collision assist and more; Towing package for heavy-duty trailers, $995; rear seat entertainment, $1,995.

Conventional wisdom: Edmunds.com likes “spacious seating in all three rows, strong engines provide plenty of power for towing, lots of new tech features” but not that “some interior controls are distracting to use, feel big and floaty when going over bumps, some interior materials are not quite up to luxury status, not as fuel-efficient as the competition.”

Marketer’s pitch: “Expect greatness.”

Reality: That’s a lot, and there’s more to come.

Nothing like it: The Grand Wagoneer is so grand it doesn’t even carry the Jeep name—it’s now Stellanti’s Wagoneer division, much like Toyota created the Lexus brand 30 years ago. The lineup also includes the not-so-grand, regular, old Wagoneer.

Competition: In addition to Lexus, there is the Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X7, Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX80.

The big disadvantage: It’s probably just as well that the entry ticket for this vehicle starts around 95 grand, since it needs a lot of gas. The Grand Wagoneer averaged 12.3 mpg for me, which I think is about the worst I’ve seen in 11 years of testing.

An optional 3.0-liter turbo six makes 510 horsepower, so I’d hazard a guess that it doesn’t offer much fuel savings.

The big upside: Your family is well taken care of. The supergiant Sturgis Kid 4.0 positively gushed over the room, the comfort, the pure enjoyment that was the Grand Wagoneer. I don’t know that I’ve heard him be so exuberant before.

Legroom in all three rows is excellent, as is legroom and headroom.

Cargo space behind the seat is 44.2 cubic feet; 61.9 with third row weight; and 112.9 from the front seats to the door. Nice, but still smaller than any minivan.

A major downfall: The fully folded space is just like this too short for people in the front row to sit in front of an eight-foot piece of plywood. Fortunately, this problem is addressed with the new 2023 Grand Wagoneer L, which is 7 inches longer and adds 16 cubic inches of cargo space.

Towing capacity maxes out at 9,850 pounds.

Driver’s seat: Aah, this is as convenient as it looks. There are all kinds of adjustments through the screen, although the main controls are on the door handle near the mirror controls. For me, these are always too delicate; the controls on the side of the seat just seem more intuitive and steady. Just turn on the massage and knead away those worries…

The gauges are pretty white on black and can switch between dials and digital.

The Obsidian package means it’s all black, with some touches of silver and almost enough wood to match the exterior panels on the 1980s version of the Grand Wagoneer, but thankfully not as fake. All the GUIs are so smooth and shiny they make me think about digging up six figures for a vehicle. Not.

Up to speed: The 2022’s 6.4-liter V-8 engine makes 392 horsepower and 404 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to rocket the behemoth vehicle to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, according to Motor Trend. I thought the Grand Wagoneer seemed so snappy on open throttle, but that’s a lot of movement from a big guy, so some instability at full throttle is to be expected.

On the road: The Grand Wagoneer has a sport mode. Of course it does. So sporty.

But wait, the giant truck actually turns nicely. I was surprised at how well it rounded the curves without any noticeable lean.

Curvy country roads aren’t exactly fun, as expected, but placing the Grand Wagoneer in your lane isn’t difficult at all. Certainly not as difficult as steering the F-150 that crossed into my lane on a narrow bridge and tapped my mirror. And continued.

But even getting around the driveway was no more difficult than in the Sturgis Family Sienna, which it was surprising, given the huge engine bay up front.

Sneaky: Dial in Drive with Stellanti’s standard transmission control. The 8-speed unit works quite well.

All Grand Wagoneer models come with four-wheel drive as standard. Starting at $58,000, these low-budget wagons are rear-wheel drive, with optional four-by.

Play some songs: The 12-inch touchscreen drives a 23-speaker McIntosh stereo system (part of a $5,000 package that also makes everything obsidian, adds an interactive passenger display and more). The sound from the system is excellent, about an A-. I have tried A+ levels recently in Audis, Hondas and CX-50s, so grading is harder now.

Operation is fairly simple, with knobs for volume and setting and a large touchscreen for everything else. The screen works well, although it pauses when you switch functions with an alarming frequency.

Keeping warm and cool: I had the Grand Wagoneer in my possession for a serious heat wave in the 90’s and was approaching 100. All that optional black material really absorbs the heat and should be reconsidered.

Switches along the underside of the dashboard control all functions and are easy to use.

Night shift: Riding high up and being able to see the road at night is usually an either-or proposition, but not in the Grand Wagoneer. And I didn’t have 32 cars flashing their headlights at me.

Fuel Economy: See above.

Where it is built: Warren, Mich.

How it is built: Consumer Reports predicts reliability will be 2 out of 5.

Next week: 2022 Lexus LX600 Luxury.

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