Jeep has joined the chorus of luxury SUV offerings for the American people. The Grand Wagoneer not only raises the bar, but it alters the bar entirely for the perception of what the Jeep brand can mean. We also encountered an unexpected twist in our time with the Grand Wagoneer: a highway wreck. Let’s take a look at the Jeep that hides its own make.
Out of Spec Score: 75/100
First, allow me to preface the fact we were the subject of an unfortunate altercation prior to fully testing the Wagoneer. A truck hit us on the highway in a snow storm, but thankfully we had no injuries and the Wagoneer performed very well in a situation we would never hope for. The size and comfort were made known when in a scary situation sliding into the embankment of a divided highway. With it being a relatively low-speed and minor accident, no airbags were deployed, though the front wheel assembly was entirely dismembered from the car due to the way the truck hit us.
I would never wish an accident on anyone, let alone myself, but in this case I was grateful to be in a large, sturdy SUV. The slippery surface of the road did not provide any friction to our all-season tires. We would have benefited a bit from true winter or off-road rated tires, or furthermore studded tires. But all things considered, we are safe, the damage is minor, and we were comfortable through the entire incident other than some racing heartbeats.
The Grand Wagoneer certainly looks the part in the premium SUV segment. The body is carved into a functional box that still carries a premium presence both on the road and sitting still in a parking lot. From the moment you approach it and the powered running boards lower to allow you to board the small yacht, you feel the part of a luxury SUV owner. You’re not worried someone will comment on your Jeep, because, well, Jeep doesn’t make itself known on the Grand Wagoneer. In fact, Jeep cannot be found anywhere on the styling or branding other than in the headlight housings, albeit with subtlety.
The wheels on our relatively entry level model were 20 inches, with 22 as an upgraded option. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with either. But given the soft-roading or even non-rugged driving most Grand Wagoneers will endure, I think the 22 inch offering is a great look. The two-tone look is also great, breaking up the vast amount of body color on a vehicle this size. The roof and a-pillar can be black or body-color-matched, and there is a large amount of chrome adorning the window surrounds.
Aside from the distinct Jeep-styled grill, the Grand Wagoneer looks fairly generic but well-proportioned and squared off as modern SUVs should be. The words “GRAND WAGONEER” adorns the back tailgate, and “WAGONEER” is branded just above the front grill. Headlights and taillights are also very well-designed, with taillights having a series of squares similar to the front grill, a nice tying in of multiple design elements.
The interior is, on its face, stunning. Our Series I featured the light Sea Salt/Black contrast, an excellent blend of light and dark shades in the interior. The 2-spoke steering wheel is a great design choice. Seats were quite comfortable, and the massage function is an impressive party trick that really does provide relief on long drives. We’ll take a more in-depth look on the screens in the technology section, but it’s worth mentioning the sheer amount of them, even on the Series 1. It’s possible to configure even more displays for passengers.
Also notable is the unique storage solutions up front. The lower center screen has a haptic button just beyond its lower left corner that will hide the screen away entirely, revealing a small storage area complete with Qi wireless charger. The center console can be opened to reveal a fully locking safe with ample storage for valuables, a unique feature I can’t say I have ever run across in a vehicle. Above you is a nice glass roof, not fully panoramic but powered in the large front section. The rear 3rd row glass is fixed and has a manual shade.
The physical fit and finish of the interior is one of the weak points, however, contrasting with the actual style and colors. It looks fantastic, but pressing on the various plastics or even metals results in some squeaking that does not match the premium price tag. Furthermore, the varying capacitive buttons on the gloss piano black surfaces would have been better suited as physical buttons. Instead, there are dimly lit LED lights behind a hole in the plastic, resulting in certain angles making it hard to read whether the button is engaged or not. The heated seat and steering wheel buttons are a primary example. But as a hole, the interior looks incredible and the important touch points, such as seats and steering wheel, are excellently executed.
The cross-section of an American V8 and a Jeep is a guarantee for glee. We found it to have ample power even at an altitude of over 5,000 feet. The 6.4L engine outputs 471 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque, with power sent through an 8-speed “TorqueFlite” transmission to the infamous Jeep 4×4 system. Again, it’s a great powertrain with solid sounds and feel to make you forget about the sheer size and weight of the Grand Wagoneer.
The air suspension has a wide range of function and soaks up a variety of rough road surfaces quite well. It wasn’t the smoothest ride I have experienced, but it gives any competitor a run for its money. Body roll is fairly significant, though much less than SUVs used to suffer from in decades past.
As a 3-row SUV, there is an inherent practicality. In fact, over 116 cubic feet possible with 2nd and 3rd rows flat. With the 3rd row folded, there’s 71 cubic feet. And behind the 3rd row you’ll find a very impressive trunk with over 27 cubic feet. Buttons in the trunk will fold both 2nd and 3rd rows for you, but interestingly they only raise the 3rd row. 2nd row chairs have to be folded back up manually.
The downside to ample storage capacity with V8 power is the fuel economy. 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway are the stated EPA numbers, putting it a bit lower than much of the competition. If fuel consumption is not a concern, you can let your mind focus entirely on the sweet sound of American muscle in an SUV we never expected to receive. The Suburban, Escalade, and others have all made a strong brand and name for themselves, and it is refreshing to have another option for those needing ample space on a daily basis.
Technically speaking, the Grand Wagoneer has nearly everything. But the implementation of said technology does separate it from some of the premium offerings of its competitors. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is a wireless Qi charger. I’m not sure the placement of the Qi charger is convenient, requiring the opening of the lower center screen to access it, but at least it is an option. The lower touchscreen and rear screen between captains chairs allow easy access to climate control, and the front seats of course host the massage function, configurable to various types and intensity. The heads-up display was a bit dim to view in broad daylight and does not show much information, but the minimal idea of a HUD can be beneficial in my book.
Screens are ample, even in the Series 1. The driver’s display is well-oriented, though it doesn’t give you as much customization as you might like. Even when you do set the gauges up, it will temporarily reset to a wider navigation view when a navigation prompt surfaces. It also wasn’t as bright as I would have hoped during the day. The center screens are large and usable, though the lower screen was somewhat of a gimmick at times. It was useful to have climate control available at any time, but pulling up climate control on the main screen above it often resulted in mismatched graphics requiring input to correct it. CarPlay displayed beautifully and worked well until it suddenly stopped connecting wirelessly. The main center screen features uConnect 5, which is intuitive but somewhat dated in the visuals and was not very quick to respond to input. But the endless customization and large array of apps was nice for those who like to tailor the car truly to their liking.
I have to leave some benefit of the doubt, as the Grand Wagoneer is in the early inception stages of early model year releases. Quirks are expected, bugs are being addressed, but as it stands the technology aspect seems partially ready, half-baked to an extent. There is plenty of potential with the screens and layout, as the bones of the Grand Wagoneer are solid. Even the standard McIntosh system was wildly impressive, with deep, extending bass not matched in many other cars. The highs and mids held some occasional fatigue or generic styling to their cadence, but the premium McIntosh available on higher trims would undoubtedly be an experience to behold.
Power and capability are a compelling duo for any potential consumer. But those looking beyond the surface may find some disappointing facets to the Grand Wagoneer. Touch-points are mostly decent, but some materials feel less than premium. The displays and user interface are a bit temperamental and don’t look like the price tag may suggest. The interior squeaks a bit with firm touches. But those are all easily overlooked if not the primary foci of your attention. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer holds an interesting place in the realm of premium family haulers. Jeep itself wants to break into the market of true premiums, but at the same time, they remove their branding from their flagship …ship.
But all concerns considered, I still love it. Software quirks and questionable material quality are nothing to prevent me from enjoying a good driving experience. The power is good, the sound system booms, and it looks fantastic from all angles. Those are not common marks in my experience of reviews, and despite the issues the Grand Wagoneer hosts, I will never turn down the opportunity to drive one. I wish I had been able to photograph the beautiful red color in the snow, but our unfortunate accident occurred beforehand. Thanks to Stellantis for these photos featured in this piece.
- Exterior design 9/10
- Interior design 7/10
- Materials 8/10
- Build quality 7/10
- Comfort 9/10
- Capacity 9.5/10
- Acceleration 8/10
- Handling 7/10
- Efficiency 5/10
- Connected services 8/10
- UI/UX 7/10
- Active Safety 7/10
Editor’s Assessment 6.8/10
- Value 6.5/10
- Market placement 6/10
- Editors Influence 8/10