Jeep has come out with a new three-wheel drive large SUV, Grand Wagoneer. It is dusted by a nameplate that has not been used since the early 1990s and stands as the brand’s most expensive and luxurious model. Incredible power, impressive technology and a first-class cabin are the highlights rather than Jeep’s typical groundbreaking features.
Of course, there is another American SUV that drives the same gilded hallways: the Cadillac Escalade. Since its recent overhaul, the Escalade has been Edmund’s highest-rated large luxury SUV. Can the new Grand Wagoneer beat the Cadillac Escalade? Edmund’s experts compare these rivals to find out.
POWER AND FUEL ECONOMY
The Grand Wagoneer offers two engine options: the basic 6.4-liter V8 engine that produces 471 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque and an extra turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder that pumps out 510 hp and 500 lb-ft. In Edmund’s tests, the V8 was good enough to push the Grand Wagoneer from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds.
It’s a full second faster than the Escalade, which comes with a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. Cadillac does not offer a more powerful engine upgrade, although there is an available turbocharged six-cylinder diesel that provides 277 hp and 460 lb-ft.
This diesel is the champion of the competition in fuel economy and earns an impressive EPA-estimated 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Otherwise, look at 15-17 mpg for the Grand Wagoneer or 16 mpg for the V8-powered Escalade.
The superior fuel economy of Escalade’s available diesel engine is appealing, but buyers of large SUVs usually want great power.
Winner: Grand Wagoneer
FEATURES AND VALUE
Grand Wagoneer is expensive. The exclusive SUV starts at $ 89,995, including destination fee. But there is a reason for the sky-high starting price. In addition to standard four-wheel drive, the Grand Wagoneer comes loaded with standard features such as premium leather upholstery, two large central touch screens, a 19-speaker McIntosh sound system, adaptive air suspension and a complete set of advanced driver aids. Optional features are just as impressive.
The Cadillac Escalade has a much lower starting price of $ 77,990, although it does not include any of the above features as standard equipment other than a similar sound system. Comparable features, with the exception of the dual touch screens in the middle, are available at higher trim levels. The starting prices for Escalade’s highest equipment levels, Premium Luxury Platinum and Sport Platinum, are only a few thousand less than Grand Wagoneer’s highest equipment in Series III, which offers more features.
The value is fairly even, but there is one feature that tips the scales: Cadillac’s Super Cruise system. This is a trick hands-free driving system that can be used on many highways to reduce the monotony of long journeys. Jeep does not currently offer a driver assistance system comparable to the Super Cruise.
LOAD AND TOWING
Large SUVs are expected to offer a lot of cargo space, and Grand Wagoneer does not disappoint. Behind the third row you will find 27.4 cubic feet of cargo space and 70.9 cubic feet with the third row folded down. With the second and third rows folded, the Grand Wagoneer maxes out at 94.2 cubic feet. Its maximum towing capacity is a hefty 9,850 pounds when properly equipped – enough to tow a large travel trailer or toy dump truck.
Cadillac Escalade has similar load numbers for normal use. There are 25.5 cubic feet behind the third row and 72.9 cubic feet behind the second. But drop both rear rows and the Escalade can accommodate superior 121 cubic feet of stuff. There is also the longer Escalade ESV model, which is even more spacious. Jeep plans to offer an extended Grand Wagoneer L, but it will not come out until the 2023 model.
Cadillac comes up a little short on maximum towing capacity – 8,200 pounds in the right configuration – but overall it’s the more versatile dumper.
RIDE AND COMFORT
The latest Cadillac Escalade does an excellent job of erasing bumps and keeping the ride comfortable over rough pavement. Grand Wagoneer is not as impressive. It handles smaller bumps well, but larger and uneven pavements can create uncomfortable body movements that can displace passengers.
But the Jeep claws back into the battle when it comes to seating. All three rows provide luxurious seating and the front seats are delivered as standard with heating, ventilation and massage functions. The Escalad’s front seats are quite nice, but the rear seat passengers are not treated with the same comfort levels as they are in the Grand Wagoneer.
Edmunds says: Both models are impressive luxury SUVs, and choosing one or the other is not an easy choice. But overall, we believe that Escalade is the better buy given its more flexible pricing, greater load capacity and exclusive hands-free driving system.
This story was submitted to the Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds.
Michael Cantu is a contributor to Edmunds. Follow Michael on Instagram.