CHATHAM, Mass. – When Stellantis (the former Fiat Chrysler, former Chrysler) decided to invade the large sport-utility-vehicle segment, it sent its iconic SUV brand, Jeep, and offered a formidable pair of challengers: the new 2022 Wagoneer and 2022 Grand Wagoneer.
Both share a body-on-frame architecture based on the superb 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 luxurious competition (Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator).
Ram Rivals Luxury Cars’ Driving Experience
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 by the ride, comfort and reassuring driving characteristics of the Ram 1500 and these qualities were abundant in the new Wagoneer.
It is a big (214.7-inches long, 83.6-inches wide, 75.6-inches high) SUV, but thanks to the full complement of advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS), large windows, fully adjustable driving position, responsive powertrain, and full-time four-wheel drive, not difficult to maneuver. The optional power-deployed running boards and well-placed grab handles ensure ingress and egress is easy, as well.
Power from the 5.7-liter V8 engine is more than capable of merging onto the highway and getting around traffic when the situation dictates such a move. The 404 horsepower, 392 pounds-feet of torque pumped out by the engine gets a boost from the eTorque hybrid system.
The eTorque hybrid system replaces the traditional engine-mounted alternator with a belt-driven motor generator unit. The motor-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, which improves responsiveness and efficiency. The system enables up to 130 lb.-ft. of torque to be available on initial throttle tip-in.
The virtual instant power from the eTorque system helps speed up cabin warming, vehicle acceleration and improve fuel economy.
Along with other measures like stop/start, cylinder deactivation and engine-off during coasting, the Wagoneer all-wheel drive (AWD) achieved some 17 miles per gallon (mpg) during my week, spot on the federal Environmental Protection Agency rating for overall driving (15 mg city, 20 highway as well). Very competitive results within this large SUV segment.
The 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 instantly detects tire slip 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 slip
Wagoneers feature 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 may be controlled manually with console controls:
- Normal Ride Height (NRH): eight inches of clearance`
- Off-road 1: Lifts the vehicle an additional inch from NRH for added height in clearing obstacles (9 inches)
- Off-road 2: Provides an additional two inches from NRH for 10 inches of ground clearance
- Park Mode: Lowers the vehicle 1.6 inches from NRH for easy ingress/egress. NRH and Park Mode are driver selectable, allowing the driver full control over vehicle ride height
- Aero Mode: Lowers the vehicle 0.6 inches from NRH. Aero Mode is controlled by vehicle speed and adjusts for optimal performance and fuel economy. The vehicle will also lower to Aero Mode when in Sport Mode.
To bring the Wagoneer to a stop the engineers specified electronic power brakes with anti-lock (ABS) featuring 14.88×1.18-inch vented rotors in the front (two-piston slider calipers) and 14.76×0.87-inch solid rotors in the rear (single slider calipers).
Full suite of ADAS
Fitting a new vehicle is the thorough, modern complement of ADAS. The lineup includes:
- Active Lane-Management System
- Blind-Spot and Rear Cross-Path Detection
- Electronic Stability Control
- Full-Speed Forward-Collision Warning Plus
- Parksense Front/Rear Park- Assist with Stop
- 360-degree SurroundView Camera
- Selec-Speed® Control
- Intersection Collision Assist
- Rain Brake Support
A premium interior
The Wagoneer Series III has 179.2-cubic-inches of interior space, plenty of room for eight adults (second and third-row bench seats) and their stuff. And they will be in a comfortable, quiet, smooth-riding environment regardless of traveling on a well-manicured highway or rutted dirt trail.
Leather adorns all seating surfaces (and the steering wheel) with heat for the first two rows (ventilation for those up front). Power adjustment for the pedals, steering wheel and seat allow virtually any-size driver to find the perfect seating position (and two-person memory allows their settings, along with those of the outside mirrors, to be stored).
Large screens greet the driver upon entry with a 12.25-inch customizable “instrument” cluster display behind the steering wheel, while much of its information is mirrored on the windshield thanks to the 10-inch heads-up display.
In the center of the dash sits the 10.1-inch color display at the heart of the Uconnect 5 multi-media infotainment system. This robust system includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; SiriusXM satellite radio/travel/Traffic; 19-speaker McIntosh MX950, 950-watt audio system with 10-in. subwoofer, and TomTom navigation.
This small list barely scratches the surface of the amenities and interior features (like the panoramic sunroof, abundance of storage include a wide, deep center console with hidden safe) of this vehicle.
The price of premium
The three-tier Wagoneer range starts at $58,845 for a rear-wheel-drive Series I through $77,440 for the AWD Series III. The version we sampled, virtually fully outfitted, including options like the heavy-duty trailer tow package, premium group, convenience group, rear-seat entertainment and destination brought the sticker to $90,420. Rarefied air, but competitive with others so equipped in the segment.
Jeep was part of the then large, but modest and inconsequential, 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-significant and growing (30 percent larger in 2021 than 2020) large-SUV group with segment-rattling gravitas.