Jeep has long been in dire need of a true, three-row, full-size SUV to take on its fellow Americans—the Tahoes, Expeditions, Escaladers, and Navigators of the world. It finally has it in the form of the Jeep Wagoneer family, ranging from the entry-level, rear-drive Wagoneer Series I that starts at $59,995 to the Jeep Grand Wagoneer Series I 4X4 that will set you back $88,995 to start.
Of course, you can top them up with options, like the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series III 4X4 we had in our regular battery of MotorTrend performance tests. What started with a base price of $77,995 ended up at $89,770 all in thanks to Silver Zynith paint ($595), a $1,495 Heavy-Duty Tow package (the Wagoneer can tow up to 10,000 pounds) , a Convenience Package ($2,195) that added features including a 360-degree camera and other advanced safety gizmos, and two other packages at $5,495 and $1,995 that added premium features including a super-cool panoramic three-window sunroof, a 19-speaker version of Jeep’s much-hyped McIntosh sound system, and a second-row entertainment setup.
So this particular Wagoneer has a pretty hefty price tag, although to be fair it’s in line with the competition, notably the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. It’s also downright hefty, at a scale-crushing 6,378 pounds. During our tests, the Wagoneer Series III 4×4 performed like an NFL lineman running the 40-yard dash — it’s slow, but with undeniable brute force.
The Wagoneer’s performance is slow, steady
How slow was it? The Wagoneer’s 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 combines with an eTorque 48-volt mild-hybrid system (rated at 392 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 404 lb-ft at 3,950 rpm) and 8-speed automatic to power the beefy Jeep from 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds. It’s not embarrassing by any means, and when you feed the throttle you’re treated to the soothing and familiar raging Hemi rumble. But compared to a 2021 Escalade with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 (6.2 seconds) and the 2020 Navigator powered by a 450-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 (5.9 seconds) as we tested, the Wagoneer is easily outclassed. Additionally, both Cadillac and Lincoln use 10-speed automatics. It’s debatable whether two more gears really make that much of a difference, but at least it’s a perceived technical advantage.
The story is much the same in the quarter mile, where the Wagoneer grunted its way to a 15.8-second time at 87.8 mph. Shocker, the lighter Cadillac (14.7 at 95.2 mph) and Lincoln (14.5 at 95.8 mph) both beat the Jeep. In the stopping department is where the gap really widens between the three. The Wagoneer braked from 60 mph to 0 in 146 feet, diving quite hard in the process, according to the test team. That’s 21 feet longer than the Navigator and a full 29 feet longer than the Escalade. Oh.
We won’t even get into the figure eight, whose performance was severely limited by the Wagoneer’s intrusive traction control. To be fair, the figure eight isn’t exactly the kind of exercise a giant SUV will excel at to begin with, even without a nanny present.
The Wagoneer has the all-terrain gear
At this point, Jeep fans are probably saying, “big deal, that’s a bunch of track numbers, the Jeep would kill those glitzy off-road posers when it gets wild.” They would probably be right. The 2022 Wagoneer Series III 4X4 comes standard with Jeep’s Quadra Drive II 4X4 system with Quadra-Lift multi-adjustable air suspension and Trac-Lok rear electronic differential, a disconnect front axle differential, a 48:1 crawl ratio, and an on-demand two-speed transfer case . In other words, some serious hardware.
In the asphalt jungle, everyday driving situations where – let’s face it – the Wagoneer will normally roam, Jeep’s engineers have done a fantastic job with the Wagoneer’s ride, handling and steering feel, thanks in large part to a new body-on-frame architecture enhanced by front and rear independent suspensions. It may not be the fastest or stop the best, but the Wagoneer rides confidently and easily, with its air suspension chewing up and spitting out road imperfections, showing the overall road manner of vehicles of less length and weight.
The Wagoneer also crushes its fellow Americans in the towing department, with the Escalade only managing 7,700 pounds and the Navigator 8,300 in the top configurations. The Jeep’s optional tow package unlocks its 10,000-pound max and offers trailer hitch assist, a 3.92 rear axle ratio and trailer brake control among its standout features. So put it in the exhaust pipe and fill it.
Wagoneer is bigger
Inside the cabin, with 116.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, the Wagoneer outclasses the short-wheelbase Escalade (109.1) and Navigator (103.3). We’re also completely enamored with the Wagoneer’s third row. Entry and exit are arguably the best in the segment, as the second row is quick to move and its overall space for adults outdoes its competitors once you get back there. To get that kind of space in the Navigator or Escalade, you’d have to step up to the long-wheelbase versions, and even then, we’d argue the Wagoneer’s third row would still be more hospitable due to the vehicle’s packaging.
In terms of interior design, amenities, and other comfort and convenience features, the Wagoneer Series III is easily on par with its most stylish American rivals in most areas. Yes, the Grand Wagoneer has premium materials and other niceties that the Wagoneer lacks, as it should for about 20 grand more. Indeed, the Grand is the one you need if you want to forget the Escalade and Navigator at the country club.
But if you’re after a smooth-driving, feature-rich, off-road SUV that’s a match for the best big boys in the segment, save on the test track—and if you can afford the 90 big and lean on its paltry fuel economy—then you should give the Jeep Wagoneer Series III 4X4 a serious look.
Looks good! More details?
|SPECIFICATIONS||2022 Jeep Wagoneer 4X4 Series III|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$89,770|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, 4WD, 7-speed, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||5.7L port-injected OHV 16-valve 90-degree V-8|
|POWER (SAE NET)||392 hp at 5,600 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||404 lb-ft @ 3,950 rpm|
|PERSONAL WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||6,378 lb (52/48%)|
|Length x width x height||214.7 x 83.6 x 75.6 inches|
|0-60 MPH||7.6 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.8 sec @ 87.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||147 feet|
|SIDE ACCELERATION*||0.61 g (average)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT*||30.4 sec @ 0.52 g (average)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||15/20/17 mpg|
|*Performance is limited due to electronic stability and traction control|