2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer First Drive Review: Your SUV Has Arrived, Your Majesty

Break out the Sperrys and unmoor the sailboat, because the Jeep Grand Wagoneer is back for 2022. In its wake follows a wave of returning Jeep customers that falls into the subtle but not-too-subtle subculture of stealth wealth. In fact, it’s been quite a while since an American automaker had something that attracted this rarified and ethereal type of buyer. Y’know, the type of people usually found parked on manicured gravel drives in the greater New England area and in select preppy hamlets spread out over the rest of the U.S.

Think less Rolls-Royce and forget about lime-green Lambos; we’re talking about you-get-it-or-you-don’t money sleds like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon or most modern Volvos. Some folks rumble around Cape Cod in star spangled stuff like the Chevrolet or GMC Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon and a selection of well-optioned pickups. But most of these connected Ivy legacies stick to tall, dark, and handsome stuff from Germany, Sweden, and England.

Old Money, New Tricks

It didn’t used to be like this. America’s old money once parked the first-gen Wagoneer and later Jeep Grand Wagoneers next to Connecticut colonials in enough numbers to storm the beaches of Southampton. Well, they still do; you’d keep auction sites brimmed for years if you scalped every vintage Range Rover and Wagoneer still chugga-chugging through rural New England’s tight lanes.

Yes, Jeep love runs deep there. New Yorkers, especially those extant within NYC’s city limits, love the war-born brand, particularly the Grand Cherokee. And so does everyone, as the Grand Cherokee was Jeep’s best-selling model in 2020. Having already long gone down a few sizes to sweep up the sales with the Cherokee, Compass, and Renegade, the brand has nowhere to go but up. First it did so with the elongated three-row Grand Cherokee L in 2021, and now with the behemoth Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer for 2022. We can already hear the Stellantis (formerly FCA) cash machine firing at full capacity in Michigan, even from all the way out here on the California coast.

Truck-UV

Don’t get too hung up on the names; both the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer and 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer are the same fundamental truck, just outfitted with different levels of exterior bling, interior niceties, and tech accoutrement. Dimensionally, both SUVs slide right between the Chevrolet Tahoe/Ford Expedition and the larger Chevy Suburban, meaning both Wagoneers have the physical presence of a Nimitz-class Godzilla carrier.

Oops, sorry about that “truck” slip-up above. However, since the body-on-frame Wagoneer twins ride on the robust DT platform plucked from under the Ram 1500 pickup family, calling it a truck isn’t entirely off base. The Wagoneer also has a best-in-class towing capacity, a whopping 10,000 pounds regardless of powertrain, but we’ll get to the engines in a bit.

For now, just look at these things. Both the new Grand Cherokee and its swollen Grand Cherokee L big sib offer some of the sharpest style in the midsize segment, and the 2022 Jeep Wagoneers are faithful extrapolations of this smoothed-edge butch vibe. Although the Wagoneer’s physical size might not shock you on roads teeming with HD trucks and GM’s suite of full-size SUVs, these Jeeps tower over you with aggressive, upright proportions and puffy fender flares at all four corners. It’s no wonder Jeep representatives referred to the new pair as “little buildings” with a “stately, architectural” design.

All the Presence of a Rolling Ritz-Carlton

If it’s a building, it sure isn’t a government warehouse. The Escalade-baiting 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer is requisitely glitzy and chrome-drenched, though not obnoxiously so. Remember, the new Wagoneer has a shot at the stealth-wealth types who may have grown up in the back seat of the first-generation SUVs, so it can’t be quite as purposefully gaudy as the Caddy. We can tell by your fine clothes and bulging wallet that you’re a grand type of person, so take pride in the fact your Grand Wagoneer sneers at lesser Grand-less Wagoneers with a black-painted roof, fancier grille design, chrome window surrounds, and premium exterior LED lighting. Our favorite bit? The two-piece aluminum model lettering with “copperchino” accents on the top-dog Series III trim. Copper trim is underutilized in the automotive space, so it’s nice to see it make an appearance here on such an important vehicle.

The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer is nice on the outside, but its maxed-out interior space should drop your jaw to the dirt like a cartoon. This is the most upscale interior we’ve seen from a Chrysler brand—yeah, yeah, Stellantis—in decades, accounting for the standards held by previous eras. Significant attention went into the interior differentiation between the standard Wagoneer and the Grand Wagoneer, and it shows.

There’s too much to generalize, so we’ll start with the upholstery. Seeing as the base Wagoneer wears Nappa leather surfaces, Jeep stepped up with the enigmatic “Palermo” grade leather that’s both quilted on the seats and extended to the door panels and dash surrounds. But the wood trim is our favorite.

On the Grand Wagoneer, all wooden panels are real walnut, and it’s some of the nicest we’ve interacted with outside of heavy-hitters like Mercedes-Benz and Bentley. There’s even a wooden surround panel for the ignition button, itself a smart detail with its angled design and integrated stitched leather trim. Elsewhere, real metal frames portions of the dash to offset the dark wood, and the large rotary shift knob in the center of the console sports a complex knurled pattern cut into the outer bezel. It’s a warm, rich environment that catapults the Jeep name deep upmarket and offers significantly more character than the equivalent Escalade or Navigator.

Everyone Gets a Screen

Haute couture stuff, for sure, but plastering yards of upscale materials on interior framework is no longer the name of the game when it comes to mainstream luxury. Instead, tech, screens, and driver assistance systems are the new Corinthian leather. Jeep knows this, so it slapped more screens in the top-spec Grand Wagoneer than you’d find in an Apple store. An exhausted configurator would net you an SUV with a whopping 75 inches of combined screen space throughout the cabin, 45 inches of which make up the front displays alone. Aside from the sharp, configurable digital gauge cluster and the optional 12.0-inch infotainment display on the top-center of the dash, the Grand digitizes its HVAC controls into a secondary 10.25-inch screen on the center stack’s lower portion.

Even Grand Wagoneer passengers make out like bandits on the display front. Aside from the optional segment-first 10.25-inch front-passenger screen for navigation, streaming, and viewing exterior cameras, rear occupants toggle climate controls via their own 10.25-inch control screen, along with optional 10.1-inch entertainment screens mounted on the front seat backs.

Gadgets and Gizmos

On the toys front, the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer packs a whole portfolio of comfort-boosting gizmos. Much of it is standard luxury fare, like heated and ventilated first- and second-row seats—with massage function for the front thrones—heated steering wheel, adjustable pedals, head-up display, available night vision camera view, and wireless charging, but there are some unconventional options, too. If the Grand Wagoneer’s cavernous center console storage is too empty for your taste, you can fill it with either a refrigerated compartment or a keypad-operated safe. Yes, a locking safe box in your center console—gun owners, save your pennies.

Far and away, our favorite offbeat option is the gorgeous 23-speaker, 1,375-watt McIntosh sound system. This is McIntosh’s first OEM-supplied system in almost 20 years, the previous being the one found in the 2005-06 Ford GT. We’re ashamed to say that although we enjoyed some satellite radio and our Bluetooth-tethered Spotify audio—sorry for the nausea, audiophiles—we didn’t have any high-quality formats with which to exercise the system properly. We did, however, gawk at the sculptural speakers poking out of the dashboard’s edge, and we distracted ourselves with the center screen’s toggleable output meter display that glows in the storied audio brand’s signature blue hue.

SRT Power in a Three-Piece Suit

On the subject of sound, we enjoyed the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer very much—but not specifically for the premium audio. Bells and whistles aren’t the only things accompanying the step up from Wagoneer; there’s 6.4 liters of Hemi hellfire under the expansive front hood. The Grand Wagoneer arrives solely with the naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 we’ve come to know and love in Scat Packs and SRT products, but in this massive three-row hauler, it’s strictly business. Its 471 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque route through an eight-speed automatic transmission, exclusively mated to Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system.

That’s a lot of engine, for sure, but it tugs a whole lot of vehicle. There’s 6,400 pounds of “little building” to hustle, so you can leave your dreams of picking on Challenger R/Ts on the yacht deck. Still, it’s certainly not slow; Jeep claims a pissed-off Grand Wagoneer scoots from 0 to 60 mph in a relatively scant 6.0 seconds.

As is usually the case when the 6.4-liter makes its way into a new model, the Grand Wagoneer’s caramel-smooth muscle-car heart is one of our favorite bits—but it’s not the best part of the driving experience. Thanks to tricky chassis engineering, quick and accurate electric steering, and adaptive air suspension, the Grand Wagoneer darts around like a midsize crossover. Really. Hey! Come back! We’re not kidding. No, we’re not just eating what Jeep PR is serving, either—though the public relations folks did hype up the three-row’s shocking surefootedness before we got some meaningful seat time.

The Hustle of an SUV Two Classes Down

On the tight, tree-lined roads that wander through southern New York state’s rural areas, we’ll be golly-gosh-darned if the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer didn’t feel dynamically closer to a Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander than it did to a Suburban. We understand how trite this might sound, but hey, we call it like we drives it. It’s a capable SUV, insofar as you want something to drive smaller than it is. The substantial bulk is well damped by the suspension, but it still roils in the background with each saw of the wheel, and you’ll quickly drive past the limit of the standard all-season tires if you’re not careful.

Who cares, right? Who’s buying a Grand Wagoneer for how well it handles the back roads? Not a soul. However, the upside to this is the Grand Wagoneer is easier and more pleasant to weave through tighter urban areas, provided you can find somewhere to moor the damn thing when you go into a store to shop.

What people do buy the Grand Wagoneer for is hauling. Anything, really: mainly people, but even the nicest, plushest SUV is occasionally relegated to trash hauling every once in a while. On that front, the third row is incredibly spacious, with this 5-foot-11 writer experiencing no issues getting comfortable in steerage. We were also electronically and calorically topped up, thanks to third-row USB charge ports and cupholders for our frosty tumbler of Capri Sun. We felt quite safe, too; the driving assist tech was comprehensive for the most part, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, active lane assist, collision warning and assist, and intersection collision assist.

2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer: Is It Worth It?

Whew, deep breath. A lot of engine, a lot of features, a lot of car, a lot of money. Prices start at a mighty $88,995 and top out at a brain-searing $110,775. Worth it? If you’re in the market for a three-row luxury super-hauler, then yes, the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer is worth the hefty buy-in, if only for that fantastic interior presentation. Aside from the astounding amount of display real estate, we’re not quite sure if this offers buyers meaningful features they couldn’t get on an equivalent Escalade or Navigator, but those two SUVs certainly don’t drive like the Grand Wagoneer, nor do they offer the same level of panache.

So if you’re a member of the preppy New England crowd and hope the new Grand Wagoneer will take the place of that 1980s model leaking on your gravel drive, go check it out. But don’t forget to shred the window sticker when you get home. You wouldn’t want anyone thinking you have money to spend.

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