Bigger, more powerful and more fuel efficient?

In an ideal world, SUVs would continue to get larger, offer more interior and cargo space, while having more powerful engines that provide increased towing capacity and provide better fuel efficiency. Oh, and they would also be extremely maneuverable, making them easy to drive and park, whether in off-road environments or city centers. At least that’s life in fantasyland, because we all know that these qualities are diametrically opposed, and absolutely not possible in the real world.

Or are they?

I just drove the new extended-length 2023 Jeep Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneen L, Jeep’s largest, most luxurious SUVs ever. These models start with the already large Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer platforms introduced last year, then add 7 inches to the wheelbase, for a total of 130 inches, and another 5 inches in rear body length, for a total of 226.7 inches in overall length ( a foot longer than the non “L” models). The extra space translates to best-in-class second-row legroom (42.7 inches), best-in-class cargo space behind the third row of seats (44.2 cubic feet, or 15.8 cubic feet more than the standard Grand Wagoneer), and best-in-class total passenger volume (179 .3 cubic feet).

If you’re having trouble translating these numbers into real-world applications, remember that these “best-in-class” claims include vehicles like the Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition Max, and GMC Yukon XL. These are the biggest SUVs you can buy…except the new Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L now have more interior space, at least in some areas like cargo space behind the third row. These Jeeps also offer best-in-class towing capacity, with the Wagoneer L maxing out at a 10,000-pound towing rating. You’d be forgiven for thinking that these huge Jeeps, with up to 5 tonnes of towing capacity, are unwieldy to drive and expensive to run. How could they not be?

But again, the new Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L act as an exercise in contradiction. I drove both versions extensively in city, highway and off-road environments, and found them almost alarmingly “cheap” in their steering and throttle response. Without turning your head and fixating on the massive 3-row, 8-passenger capacity offered by these full-size SUVs, you simply forget how much vehicle is in there. Admittedly, with today’s advanced suspension technology, most modern large SUVs “drive smaller” than they are, but the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L elevate this characteristic to a new dimension.

Starting with the standard Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer body-on-frame platform, L models benefit from upgraded frame rails and rear floor. All Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer L models have an independent four-wheel suspension, with an active air suspension available on the Wagoneer L and standard on the Grand Wagoneer L. All-wheel drive is also standard on every Grand Wagoneer L, with two-wheel drive standard on the Wagoneer L. All-wheel drive with a more advanced two-speed transmission is standard on the upper Wagoneer L trim (Series III), and a limited-slip differential is standard on all Grand Wagoneer L. Jeep representatives told us that the steering and suspension tuning of the new L models were upgraded to maintain their confident and (relatively) smooth handling, and as mentioned before, I think they succeeded.

Even more mechanical wizardry emerges behind that trademark Jeep seven-slot grille, in the form of an all-new twin-turbocharged engine. With six cylinders arranged in a single row (inline 6), the new “Hurricane” 3.0-liter engine that powers the Jeep Wagoneer L generates 420 horsepower and 468 pound-feet of torque. The Grand Wagoneer L has a higher-output version of this engine, producing 510 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. Jeep says both engines offer a 1-2 mpg advantage over its existing V8s, and I can verify the wide, flat torque bands that work harmoniously with Jeep’s 8-speed automatic to provide more than adequate low-mid power and highway speeds.

In fact, while the higher output 510hp version of the Hurricane engine in the Grand Wagoneer L is fun, the 468hp ‘base’ version in the Wagoneer L easily made short work of passing highways. And don’t forget, this is the powertrain that’s rated to tow up to 10,000 pounds. Jeep engineers have created a refined and responsive powertrain, with quick downshifts and sharp upshifts as needed. Fuel efficiency for the high-output engine is rated at 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway and 16 mpg overall. The standard engine earns 16/23/19 mpg. Perhaps more intriguing is how these were thought to combine with a larger 30-gallon fuel tank in the L models, giving the standard engine in the Wagoneer L a range potential of around 700 miles.

The hardware aspects of the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L are impressive. The new engines offer both more power and more fuel efficiency than the standard-length versions. The confident, effortless nature of the steering, braking and overall ride quality of these large SUVs belies their size, and interior space, especially in the second and third rows, is uncompromised, even for 6-foot-plus adults. And Jeep’s reputation for off-road sophistication remains, with the standard Selec-Terrain suspension and traction control system offering five settings, ranging from Auto to Sport to Rock, Snow and Sand/Mud.

All of this hardware envelops the spacious cabins of the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L. These cabins are accented by premium materials offered in a variety of colors and feature an array of high-tech features. Multiple large touchscreens in the front row and second row provide personal media options for passengers, while options such as a head-up display, digital rearview mirror and reconfigurable gauge cluster keep the driver happy. Massage seats, a 24-channel McIntosh sound system, full Alexa integration, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and Amazon Fire TV really make these Jeeps family-friendly for short or long hauls.

The new 2023 Jeep Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L follow the same trim and pricing structure as the standard-length models, meaning a Series I, II and III version of each model, with prices and features increasing as customers move up the trim ladder. Jeep representatives told us that the price increase from a standard wheelbase Wagoneer or Grand Wagoneer to the equivalent “L” model will be about $3,000, meaning a 2023 Wagoneer L Series 1 should start around $64,000 while a Grand The Wagoneer L will start around $92,000. These prices can’t be described as ‘cheap’ – but given the level of capability, luxury and advanced technology found in these extra-large Jeeps, a strong value argument can be made.


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