Jeep has come out with a new three-row large SUV, the Grand Wagoneer. It dusts off a nameplate that hasn’t been used since the early 1990s and stands as the brand’s most expensive and most luxurious model. Huge power, impressive technology and a first-class cabin are the highlights rather than Jeep’s typical ground-breaking qualities.
Of course, there’s another American SUV that runs the same gilded halls: the Cadillac Escalade. Since its recent redesign, the Escalade has been Edmunds’ highest-rated large luxury SUV. Can the new Grand Wagoneer beat the Cadillac Escalade? Edmunds experts compare these rivals to find out.
POWER AND FUEL ECONOMY
The Grand Wagoneer offers two engine options: the base 6.4-liter V8 engine that produces 471 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, and an optional turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder that pumps out 510 hp and 500 lb-ft. In Edmunds testing, the V8 was good enough to push the Grand Wagoneer from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds.
That’s a full second faster than the Escalade, which comes with a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. Cadillac doesn’t offer a more powerful engine upgrade, though there is an available turbocharged six-cylinder diesel that makes 277 hp and 460 lb-ft.
This diesel is the fuel economy champion of the competition, earning an impressive EPA-estimated 23 mpg in combined city and highway driving. Otherwise, you’re looking at 15-17 mpg for the Grand Wagoneer or 16 mpg for the V8-powered Escalade.
The superior fuel economy of the Escalade’s available diesel engine is appealing, but buyers of large SUVs typically want big power.
Winner: Grand Wagoneer
FEATURES AND VALUE
The Grand Wagoneer is expensive. The upscale SUV starts at $89,995, including destination charge. 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 touchscreens, a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, an adaptive air suspension and a full suite of advanced driver aids. Optional features are equally 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 except for a similar audio system. Comparable features, with the exception of the dual center touchscreens, are available on higher trim levels. Starting prices for the Escalade’s top trim levels, Premium Luxury Platinum and Sport Platinum, are just a few thousand less than the Grand Wagoneer’s top-of-the-line Series III trim, which offers more features.
Value is pretty even, but there’s 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 drives. Jeep does not currently offer a driver assistance system comparable to Super Cruise.
LOADING AND TOWING
Large SUVs are expected to offer plenty of cargo space, and the Grand Wagoneer does not disappoint. Behind the third row, you’ll 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 pull a large travel trailer or toy dump truck.
The Cadillac Escalade has similar load numbers for regular 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 hold a whopping 121 cubic feet of stuff. There is also the longer Escalade ESV model, which is even more spacious. Jeep plans to offer a lengthened Grand Wagoneer L, but it won’t come out until the 2023 model year.
The Cadillac is a little short on maximum towing capacity — 8,200 pounds in the right configuration — but overall it’s the more versatile dump truck.
RIDE AND COMFORT
The latest Cadillac Escalade does an excellent job of smoothing out bumps and keeping the ride comfortable over rough pavement. The Grand Wagoneer is not as impressive. It handles minor bumps well, but larger and uneven pavements can create awkward body movements that can crowd occupants.
But Jeep is clawing its way back into the fray when it comes to seating. All three rows provide luxurious seating and the front seats are standard with heating, ventilation and massage functions. The Escalade’s front seats are quite nice, but rear passengers aren’t treated to the same levels of comfort 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 think the Escalade is the better buy given its more flexible pricing, larger cargo capacity and exclusive hands-free driving system.
This story was provided to The Associated Press by the automotive website Edmunds.
Michael Cantu is a contributor at Edmunds.