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The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer is Jeep’s first attempt at a truly luxurious interior. At its price, the Grand Wagoneer is meant to go toe-to-toe with full-size luxury veterans like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.
The question is: Has Jeep succeeded? To a large extent, yes. In some areas, no.
We start with yes. Our test vehicle is the Grand Wagoneer Obsidian, which is the second highest trim level available, just below the Series III. It starts at $96,845, and after the options are counted, its final price is $109,025. At first glance, this interior looks and feels every penny of the exorbitant price. Get the idea out of your head that Jeep can’t build a luxury car, because it can, and it did.
Palermo leather-trimmed 24-way heated, cooled and massaging seats are lovely to look at with good quilting, contrast stitching and prominent contrast piping. Even the motorized headrest is a work of art, and the seat controls themselves are beautifully presented on the door à la Mercedes. Perhaps even more noticeable is the large amount of real walnut wood detailing that adorns the interior. It is thoughtfully placed throughout, dominating the center console and lifting this interior considerably. Where you don’t see wood, Jeep uses gloss black trim, leather and metal. We’re normally crazy about an overuse of glossy black trim, but the only place we can nit-pick is its use around the gear selector knob. It’s a high-touch area that collects fingerprints and dust, but elsewhere glossy black is used on vertical surfaces where it’s not as prone to problems. Good.
Metal-trimmed buttons and knobs are another sign of luxury, and this Jeep has them in spades. The aforementioned shifter is an intricately shaped lump of aluminum, and it’s fantastic to use – just wear gloves in the winter, as it gets cold. Both the volume and tuning knobs are McIntosh-derived (read more about the sound system here), and they turn with a quality lift and feel. The ride mode selector is a metal switch, and so is the ride height selector. There’s really very little you touch in this interior that’s of subpar quality – even the start/stop button is presented as a centerpiece, surrounded by a bezel and wrapped with a French seam, all while sitting atop a piece of carved wood . If we were forced to complain, we would direct our anger at the flat black and boring turn signals and wiper stalks that are just parts of the garbage from the Stellantis range.
It’s a miracle we haven’t mentioned the screens yet, because there are so many of them. With the rear entertainment package, there are a total of eight screens, including the digital rearview mirror. Most of them are excellent in execution, but there are some problems that can best be called growing pains or huh? moment in the user experience.
For example, the heated/cooled seats are controlled by touch-sensitive areas on a sheet of piano black upholstery (above top left). Their backlighting is uneven, and it makes them look a bit cheap/random at night. Moreover, their functionality is questionable. It would take several stabs to get them to activate on seemingly every occasion and forget about trying to turn them on with gloves. We had to turn them on via the touchscreen controls at times because they just wouldn’t respond to our touch/press.
Another oddity is the placement of the hill for descent. Again, this is a touch-sensitive area on the center console. Passengers accidentally bumped into this button several times during the week of testing, triggering the accompanying beep and a giant message that pops up in the dashboard when you least expect it. Maybe make this a physical button that’s harder to press, Jeep?
Another distraction-related oddity in the instrument cluster concerns the constant zooming in and out of the gauges. The cluster screen will prioritize a change in cruise control speed by making it appear large on the screen while minimizing the gauges behind the message. Just a moment later, the gauges are enlarged to normal size again. If you toggle between being on/off cruise control or changing the set speed somewhat frequently, it’s like watching a boomerang go back and forth at you in the dash, and it’s distracting. Finally, for some reason, Jeep decided to make the green lights in the cluster to inform you that the headlights and fog lights are about five times larger than in any other car. It’s just plain weird, and it feels like a waste of space.
Moving on from the cluster, the last problematic screen in this car is the rear view mirror. Unlike GM’s rearview mirror, Jeeps are particularly bad at handling bad weather or nighttime driving. Rain, snow or salt make vision worse than a traditional mirror, and the glare from headlights at night does the same. Other companies’ rearview camera mirrors are wired to handle these situations much better than Jeeps, because Grand Wagoneers are only useful in ideal daytime weather conditions.
Back to the good stuff though. All the other screens are really quite lovely to use, even the trick screen that folds in and out below the infotainment display. Placing the wireless charger behind this screen is a great way to completely hide a phone from distraction. And just like we found in the Grand Cherokee, the passenger’s dedicated display is the same stroke of distraction-free genius. The good tech vibes continue in the back, where second-row users have a screen between them on the fixed center console for vital car functions, as well as screens on the backs of the front seats for watching movies, TV or even playing video games. Yes, you can connect three game consoles in a Grand Wagoneer and have a little party (the third console can be played via the front passenger screen).
Being as big as the Grand Wagoneer, there’s no shortage of room for parties. You can comfortably stretch out in both and third line. Seriously, the third row is way better than you imagine and we’re pretty sure it beats the Escalade/Tahoe and Navigator/Expedition in terms of both space and comfort (but would need some solid back-to-back time for to know for sure). It has outlets and even nicely designed trim all the way back there to make it less of a penalty box than any other full-size SUV. No matter where you sit in this behemoth of an SUV, it’s going to be nice. There will also be plenty of room for your stuff, even with all the rows raised.
There’s enough sound deadening throughout to completely silence the 6.4-liter V8 when you don’t want to hear it, but the engine and exhaust are aggressive enough that its punchy sound envelopes the cabin when you floor it. McIntosh audio systems are unmatched in user experience, and come on, you get to brag about having a McIntosh audio system in your car.
In many ways, the Grand Wagoneer is the equal of the Escalade and the Navigator. It really doesn’t skimp on luxury or comfort – the massage seats are best in class. You can’t do it on material usage, space, or lack of available technology. But the problem areas we mentioned could really use some cleaning up to make the whole car experience a little more seamless and user-friendly. As a first attempt at luxury, Jeep’s final product is quite remarkable, and its interior is well worth what it says on the sticker. Just as our editor-in-chief explained when he first drove a Grand Wagoneer, Jeep is officially a luxury car manufacturer.
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