The Wagoneer puts Jeep in the big SUV world in a big way

CHATHAM, Mass. – When Stellantis (ex-Fiat Chrysler, ex-Chrysler) decided to invade the large SUV segment, it sent its iconic SUV brand, Jeep, and offered a formidable pair of contenders: the new 2022 Wagoneer and 2022 Grand Wagoneer.

Both share a body-on-frame architecture based on the great Ram 1500 pickup along with premium passenger appointments and amenities, with the Wagoneer competing against the basic large SUVs (think Chevrolet Suburban, Ford Expedition) and the Grand Wagoneer the luxury competition ( Cadillac) Escalade, Lincoln Navigator).

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We spent a week in a Series III Wagoneer, the most comprehensively equipped trim level, and a premium vehicle by any definition of the word.

The platform performs

We were impressed with the ride, comfort and soothing handling of the Ram 1500 and these qualities were abundant in the new Wagoneer.

It’s a large (214.7-inch long, 83.6-inch wide, 75.6-inch tall) SUV, but thanks to the full complement of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), large windows, fully adjustable driving position, responsive powertrain, and all-wheel drive on full time, not difficult to maneuver. The optional power-developed running boards and well-placed grab handles ensure that getting in and out is also easy.

The power of the 5.7-liter V8 engine is more than capable of blending into the highway and weaving around traffic when the situation calls for such a move. The 404 horsepower, 392 pound-feet of torque pumped out of the engine gets a boost from the eTorque hybrid system.

The eTorque hybrid system replaces the traditional engine-mounted alternator with a belt-driven engine-generator unit. The engine generator unit works with a 48-volt battery pack to provide quick and seamless engine start/stop, torque addition to the engine crankshaft in certain driving situations and brake energy regeneration, improving responsiveness and efficiency. The system enables up to 130 lb.-ft. of torque that must be available at the first gas stroke.

The virtual instant power of the eTorque system helps accelerate cabin warm-up, vehicle acceleration and improve fuel economy.

Along with other measures such as stop/start, cylinder shutdown, and engine shutdown while coasting, the Wagoneer’s all-wheel drive (AWD) achieved about 17 miles per gallon (mpg) during my week, placing it in the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s overall driving rating (15 mpg city, 20 highway as well ). Very competitive results in this large SUV segment.

Power is delivered through an eight-speed automatic transmission to the Quadra-Drive II AWD system, with a rear electronic limited slip differential (ELSD). The system immediately detects tire slippage and smoothly distributes engine torque to tires with traction. In some cases, the vehicle will anticipate low traction and adjust to proactively limit or eliminate skidding

Wagoneers have four-wheel independent suspension and, in the case of the Series III we drove, the optional The Quadra-Lift air suspension system.

Quadra-Lift adds up to 3.6 inches of lift span supported by four-corner air springs that provide an air-cushioned ride. The system operates automatically or can be controlled manually with console controls:

  • Normal Ride Height (NRH): eight inches of clearance”.
  • Off-road 1: Raises the vehicle an additional inch from NRH for increased height when clearing obstacles (9 inches)
  • Off-road 2: Adds two more inches from NRH for 10 inches of ground clearance
  • Park Mode: Lowers the vehicle 1.6 inches from NRH for easy entry and exit. NRH and Park Mode are driver selectable, giving the driver full control over the vehicle’s ride height
  • Aero Mode: Lowers the vehicle 0.6 inches from NRH. Aero Mode is controlled by vehicle speed and adjusted for optimal performance and fuel economy. The vehicle will also be lowered into Aero Mode in sport mode.

To bring the Wagoneer to a stop, engineers specified anti-lock electronic power brakes (ABS) with 14.88×1.18-inch vented rotors up front (twin-piston calipers) and 14.76×0.87-inch solid rotors in the rear (single calipers).

Full suite of ADAS

Fitting a new vehicle is the thorough, modern complement to ADAS. The lineup includes:

  • Active lane management system
  • Detection of the blind spot and rear cross roads
  • Electronic stability control
  • Full speed forward collision warning Plus
  • Parksense front/rear parking aid with stop
  • 360-degree SurroundView camera
  • Select speed® Verify
  • Intersection Collision Assist
  • Rain brake support
2022 Wagoneer

A first-class interior

The Wagoneer Series III has 179.2 cubic inches of interior space, plenty of room for eight adults (second and third row benches) and their stuff. And they’ll be in a comfortable, quiet and smooth environment whether they’re traveling on a well-maintained highway or rutted dirt track.

Leather adorns all seating surfaces (and the steering wheel) with heating for the first two rows (ventilation for those in front). Power adjustment for the pedals, steering wheel and seat allows the driver of virtually any size to find the perfect seating position (and two-person memory allows their settings, along with those of the exterior mirrors, to be stored).

Large screens welcome the driver upon entry with a 12.25-inch customizable ‘instrument’ screen behind the steering wheel, while much of the information is reflected on the windscreen thanks to the 10-inch heads-up display.

In the center of the dashboard sits the 10.1-inch color screen at the heart of the Uconnect 5 multimedia infotainment system. This robust system includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; SiriusXM Satellite Radio/Travel/Traffic; 19-speaker McIntosh MX950, 950-watt sound system with 10-in. subwoofer and TomTom navigation.

This small list barely scratches the surface of the amenities and interior features (such as the panoramic sunroof, abundance of storage options include a wide, deep center console with hidden safe) in this vehicle.

The price of premium

The three-level Wagoneer lineup starts at $58,845 for a rear-wheel drive Series I to $77,440 for the AWD Series III. The version we tested, virtually fully equipped, including options like the Heavy Duty Trailer Package, Premium Group, Convenience Group, Rear Seat Entertainment and Destination brought the sticker to $90,420. Rare air, but competitive with others so equipped in the segment.

Jeep was part of the then large, but modest and unimportant, large SUV segment when in 1963 it introduced the original Wagoneer, built on the architecture of the Jeep Gladiator pickup.

The 2022 Wagoneer, and its Grand Wagoneer sibling, propel the Jeep brand into the now-sizable and growing (30 percent larger in 2021 than 2020) large SUV group with segment-rattling gravitas.

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