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BUILT FOR A KING, NOT FOR THE ALPS: 2022 JEEP GRAND WAGONEER

Whenever a new large, V-8 family hauler is released, it never seems to be good timing. Take the history of Kia and their V-8 powered 8-passenger Borrego in 2008 that only survived two years of production during the gas surge and economic downfall. However, despite gas prices in some parts of the country increasing beyond $5.00 a gallon, large family SUV are having a hard time staying on dealer lots, so perhaps Jeeps newest 8-passenger Wagoneer may just be perfecting timing after all.

Similar to how the Chevrolet Suburban is more burbs to the Tahoe and the Ford Expedition Max is, well, more max than the standard Expedition, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer is just that to the standard Wagoneer – its more. Unlike the two alternatives however, the differences between the Wagoneer and Jeep Grand Wagoneer isn’t in size, but in options. The standard Wagoneer starts at $58,845, a near $30,000 less than the Grand Wagoneer and comes equipped with the 392-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 versus the G-Wag’s girthy 6.4. The Wagoneer comes standard with room for 8-passengers while the Grand Wagoneer makes room for 7 with second-row captain’s chairs. There are also several features on the Grand Wagoneer that aren’t available on the standard Wagoneer like the 12-inch infotainment system, a suede headline, night vision display a 23-speaker McIntosh surround sound system.

The things is, while the standard Wagoneer can compete on par with the Suburban’s and Expeditions, the Grand Wagoneer is barging into the luxury SUV turf against the BMW X7, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator and Mercedes-Benz GLS. Like all of these other SUV’s there is a presence-ness to the Grand Wagoneer – its pure substantial size gives it a status symbol of posh excellence. But most importantly it comes down to the interior refineries.

Nicknaming it Big Bertha, its size is slotted somewhere between a standard size Tahoe and its extended length Suburban. Focusing more passenger space, the sheer volume goes towards those setting in second and third rows – the space is enormous. Not only is access to the third row as easy as walking into the foyer of a cathedral, but the seats are utterly comfortable and ideal for several hours of a long journey.

While we’d probably prefer to place our butts in the second row seats, the front seats get the majority of the luxury features with ventilated and heated features, multi-way power contouring seats and more massage settings than my personal masseuse. Then there are the screens. With our subject being the Series II, there are a total of four screens – a 12.3-inch digital driver information cluster, 12-inch infotainment system with Next-Gen Uconnect & Wireless Apple CarPlay & Android Auto Connectivity, 12-inch Articulating Lower Comfort Display, and a 10.25-inch rear comfort display to manage the 4-zone climate control system. If that doesn’t top it off, there are 22-USB ports available, an optional front passenger display and rear seat entertainment display that can account to upwards of 74-inches of displays. It basically becomes a theatre on wheels.  

When it comes to the performance aspect of a large family hauler, we wouldn’t expect it to keep pace with some performance sedans on the market. But with the use of its 6.4-liter V-8, the same used in the 392-Charger/Challenger Scat Pack, there is a beast under the sheet metal waiting to be awakened. The instantaneous growl when we first initiate the start engine button perches the ears of nearby husbands to gaze at what holy creature as entered their existence. With its 8-speed automatic transmission fantastically engineered to handle its 470-horsepower uproar, it can achieve 0-60-mph in under 6-seconds – surprising from a vehicle that weighs nearly as much as the moon.

For the size of the Grand Wagoneer, it’s surprisingly nimble on its rubber treads. Whether in tight parking structures or out on the open road, it doesn’t drive as big as it feels and is quite easy to maneuver around. While not designed to take the long twisty road, there is some fun to be had from behind the wheel. Its Quadra-Lift Air Suspension system, similar to what is used in the RAM 1500 Limited is quite the smooth sailor making us feel more like a couch potato.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to all this lavish means of extravagance. With any brand there is a level of expectations when you buy a vehicle and drive it off the lot. With Land Rover, you expect it to handle basic off-road situations given the standard tires it comes with and with Jeep, the same suit is to follow. So needless-to-say, when we took our, as tested $96,985, 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Series II with its superior Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive system and Selec-Terrain Traction Management System to photograph it in the northerly part of Arizona, we were caught off guard when it couldn’t handle a little bit of snow.

In the attempt to turn Big Bertha around, what appeared to be roughly 6-inches of snow managed to be too much for the Grand Wagoneer and its 22-inch wheels on touring tires. Using the Selec-Terrain Management System shuffling through all of the available options of Rock, Sand/Mud, Snow, Auto and Sport – none seem to be the best course of action. We were as stuck as a dying whale on a public beach. Thankfully, several hours later some helping hands arrived in a Toyota 4Runner to pull the beached whale out of its napping hole. But in the attempt to salvage the photoshoot we had in store, we sent a scout out on a dirt bike to test the snow levels of a photogenic spot… sadly the tires on our Grand Wagoneer were just no match for the few inches of powder on the ground and we were once, stuck again. After digging Big Bertha back out once again and loading up as much dirt and gravel we can find, Rock mode from the Selec-Terrain managed to push us through the last few feet we needed to get back out of the snow.

As a disclaimer here, I feel I should note a couple of facts for both myself and for Jeep’s PR. One, despite how capable a vehicle may be, as a single party traveling alone, I would never put myself or the vehicle in a situation that I deem suspicious or that I couldn’t get out of.  Second, this was on a morning after a snow fall, my assumption was that part of the snow had melted, re-froze and turned into ice and was covered by fresh snow – and as anyone would know, once you’re on ice, it’s all downhill from there.

As a whole, the Jeep Grand Wagoneer has earned a cozy spot against the posh luxury brands with its luxurious interior, upscale materials, massive passenger space and domineering road attendance. As an off-roader to hold the Jeep nameplate, the first that needs to be done is to swap out those touring tires for something that can handle a little more of your adventurous lifestyle. 

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS

Vehicle: 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Series II
Base Price: $88,440
As-Tested Price: $96,985

PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 6.4-liter V-8
Horsepower | Torque: 471-Horsepower | 455lbs-ft of Torque
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Drivetrain: Four-Wheel Drive w/ QuadraDrive & Terrain Management
MPG: 13 | 18| 15 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 14.5-MPG Combined
Fuel Range: 400 miles
0-60 MPH: ±6.5-seconds

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