2022 Jeep Wagoneer Review – Rolling Confusion

September 21, 2022 4:57 p.m
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Quick Facts

2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II 4×4 Quick Facts

Driveline

5.7-liter V8 with belt starter/alternator (392 horsepower @ 5,600 RPM, 404 lb-ft @ 3,950 RPM)

Transmission/drive wheel

Eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

Fuel economy, USA

15 city / 20 highway / 17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

Fuel economy, Canada

15.6 city / 11.7 highway / 13.8 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100 km)

Basic price

$71,845 (US) / $81,495 (Canada)

As tested price

$82,820 (US) / $94,470 (Canada)

Prices include $2,000 destination charge in the US and $1,995 to $2,695 for shipping, PDI and A/C tax in Canada and, due to cross-border equipment differences, cannot be directly compared.

The consensus, at least among us shrimp-sucking keyboard warriors who get paid to review cars, is that the Jeep Wagoneer is a bit of a flop, mostly due to an oddly proportioned exterior design.

Sure, writes the overfed journo between bites of shellfish, the Wagoneer has a nice interior, an excellent stereo and an undeniable, if unremarkable, powertrain. But its appearance scares small dogs.

I’ve gone a little easier on the Wagoneer and its Grand Wagoneer sibling so far, in part because while I don’t think this vehicle is pretty, I don’t think it’s as ugly, at least not in the overall package, as others do. It’s not until I drill down into some details—and consider the various bits of wisdom I’ve heard from talking to real car designers over the years—that I begin to realize that Jeep missed the mark with styling. A relative rarity from a Stellantis brand, at least lately.

While not all Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram/Alfa products have been attractive over the last decade or so – may I remind you of the ride? – I’ve also found myself saying, regarding certain vehicles under the former FCA/now Stellantis umbrella “well, at least it LOOKS good.”

I may not find the Wagoneer ugly enough to banish me from my neighborhood, but I won’t say it looks good either.

This is a bummer, because the interior is really nice, the sound really rocks, and the Jeep’s powertrain is nice and smooth, as is to be expected at this price point.

The Wagoneer looks good to me from the front. The standard seven-slot grill is familiar and attractive. The hood seems proportioned just right. You start to think the Wagoneer might just be styled like a Grand Cherokee, but taller, and that gives you hope.

Then you make your way aft.

It’s the oddly proportioned – there’s that word again – rear overhang that ruins the look. Or at least it does for me. I recently had a conversation with two colleagues about the look of the three-row American full-size luxury SUVs, and one pointed out that Chevy’s Suburban looks better to his eye because of swoopy styling bits that give the illusion of movement. In fairness, and while I quibble with many of Chevy’s recent design choices, the Suburban is not unattractive.

What bugs me about this Jeep land barge is the proportions (I might have to start fining myself $5 per use of the “p” word if I don’t find a thesaurus soon). I can handle flat-sided styling. Boxy can be bland but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

But then again – that rear overhang. Weft.

You don’t need to see any of this from the inside though. And the cottage is Pretty nice. Some of the materials disappoint for the price, but the styling looks good and form mostly follows function – the controls are generally easy to use. It’s not perfect – the infotainment screen isn’t well integrated and the two-spoke steering wheel looks a little too old – but I liked it overall. Even the shift knob is quite easy to use once you get used to it.

Of course, these luxury barge SUVs are about more than style. Buyers in this class are looking for a silky smooth V8 with torque and a buttery velvet ride. The Wagoneer generally delivers on the latter—despite Jeep’s penchant for off-road tuning. The Wagoneer is as agile as anything in this class.

The Wagoneer comes standard with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that has a mild hybrid setup. The belt/generator has 12 kW of power and 130 lb-ft of starting torque. Total system output is 392 horsepower and 404 lb-ft of torque, and the transmission that gets the power to the wheels is an eight-speed automatic.

The Wagoneer is no lightweight, and the acceleration reflects that. The Hemi is smooth, sure, and it pulls pretty well, but you won’t be dusting too many people at stoplight drag races. However, with a heavy enough foot, you can get enough power to fit and merge. Towing capacity is 10,000 pounds.

Management – ​​yes, it exists. And that’s about as good as something this big can get. Which is to say, not great but at least passable for suburbia. It’s on par with the last Suburban I drove.

Size and luxury don’t come cheap – this Wagoneer is based at $71,845. Diamond Black Crystal Pearl Coat paint was added for $595, and a Convenience Package (second-row manual window shades, head-up display, 360-degree camera, drowsy driver detection, parallel and perpendicular park assist with stop, cross-collision system, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beams and heated second-row seats) added $3,295.

The Heavy Duty Trailer-Tow package (trailer brake control, trailer set-up assist, trailer hitch zoom, heavy-duty engine cooling) added another $795. Finally, a $2,295 Advanced All-Terrain Group added 18-inch wheels, off-road tires, two-speed transmission, 3.92 rear axle ratio, chrome towbars, electronic limited-slip rear differential, front axle skidplate, gas tank skidplate, air suspension, removable rear towbar, Select-Speed -control (allows the driver to control the speed on hills via the steering wheel) and a skid plate for the transfer case.

Add another two grand for the destination and you have an $82,820 update on the ‘ole Family Truckster.

This is purely anecdotal, but it seems like most of the Wagoneer hate I’ve heard revolves around the exterior. It makes sense – the cabin is good and the driving experience is about what you’d expect from such a beast.

All of this leaves me confused as a car reviewer. My job is to be honest – even if that means being harsh – and to give my opinions, whether they align with the consensus or not. In addition, I try to be nuanced and not succumb to simplistic notions such as “it sucks!” or “that’s great!” I get paid to be more considerate than that.

And the Wagoneer’s existence taxes me a bit. Stylistically, it’s a swing and a miss. I have eyes, and while styling is subjective, I agree with the overall consensus view, even if I’m a little less hard on the rig than most. But the cabin is generally good and the Wagoneer is not that aggressive behind the wheel.

It’s easy to hate a vehicle. And there are some vehicles on the market that deserve all the hate they get. The Wagoneer is a more nuanced case. Jeep’s design team needs to get to work on a styling update, stat. But the rest of the package is pretty good.

The problem is that “pretty good” might not be good enough to overcome its styling flaws. Or to help Jeep compete with stalwarts like the Suburban.

Jeep hasn’t missed often lately. But they have come up a little short here.

What’s new for 2022

The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer is a new three-row large SUV from Jeep.

Who will buy it

Jeep fans looking for a big SUV, those who like the ugly duckling.

[Images © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC, Jeep]

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