Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 8, 2023
Jeep has been lacking a proper competitor in the three-row passenger space for quite some time, leaving its rivals like the GMC Yukon, Infiniti QX80, Toyota Sequoia, and even the familial Dodge Durango to mop up the market share. But no more. Those wishing to haul around eight passengers with a liberal dose of luxury, creature comforts, and a price tag under $100,000 won’t have to wait any longer.
Jeep offers it in two flavours: Wagoneer ($80,995) and Grand Wagoneer ($106,290). As the names and prices suggest, the Grand Wagoneer is the more expensive and upscale variant of the same SUV with more features and amenities. You can read our review of that here. But we’re now testing the more humble Wagoneer, and it costs between $25,000 to $45,000 less depending on the trim, but even in the base Series II model, it never feels like a no-frills choice.
Certainly not from the outside at least. Jeep has managed to modernize its design signature into a sleek yet contoured package. Notice how there are no Jeep badges anywhere on the Wagoneer as well - they are clearly trying to push the Wagoneer lineup as a separate and distinctive luxury offering. Even the website is different: wagoneer.ca. The only place where you would find a Jeep badge is in the center touchscreen when you start it up. In addition, it’s also quite difficult to tell it apart from the Grand Wagoneer other than the chromed-up front grill.
The interior is more upscale and better put together than a Dodge Durango. Smooth leather is wrapped around the steering wheel and even though plastics run rampant, they are glossy, black, and convincingly premium. There isn’t a liberal use of wood veneer like in the Grand Wagoneer, and it lacks the army of digital screens (many of which are still optional), but Jeep clearly did not want to play the game of excess and has instead stuck to the essentials, and has executed them well. We believe buyers will find it more than enough.
The seats are excellently padded and offer a high and commanding position to soak in the expansive view out front. A nicely positioned armrest ensures optimal comfort though the windowsill isn’t flat or wide enough to rest your other arm comfortably like in a Range Rover. Of note, we found that many of the driving aids worked decently though the Active Lane Management feature could use some improvement. It keeps weaving the SUV from side to side, from lane market to lane marker, rather than keeping the vehicle in the center of the lane. It only seems to correct the steering when you have already crossed the lines.
What surprised us most about the Wagoneer was its polished and gentle driving behaviour. It may be a porker of an SUV weighing in at 2,807 kg, but it’s equipped with a naturally aspirated 5.7-litre V8 to keep it motivated with 392 hp and 404 lb-ft of torque. We don’t think anything less than a V8 would do well here, and its towing capacity of 4,535 kg (10,000 lbs) is impressive. The engine is backed up by an e-torque hybrid system that polishes out the powertrain and 8-speed gearbox transitions, and as a result, it feels lively under acceleration but it doesn’t give you the same kick in the pants as the Range Rover’s turbocharged V8.
It makes a hearty exhaust noise with every stab of the throttle and sounds better than the competing inline-sixes and hybrid four-cylinders. Those wishing for more power will need to step up to the Grand Wagoneer instead with its more potent 6.4-litre V8. Of note, a twin-turbocharged inline-six dubbed the Hurricane will be coming for the Wagoneer lineup later this year, but we don’t think it will achieve any better fuel efficiency than our 16.8 L/100km with the Wagoneer. In any consolation, the V8 does not require premium 91-octane fuel and comes with cylinder deactivation to further save fuel under light power demands.
The Wagoneer rides exceptionally well, aided by an adaptive air suspension and large 22-inch shoes wrapped in Goodyear Eagle Touring all-season rubber. It’s nicely damped with a focus on comfort, neutralizing both small and large suspension movements better than the Grand Cherokee, but not nearly as effective as a Land Rover Defender. It’s not ungainly in any way and does not exhibit any of that floaty chassis behaviour when striking bumps and potholes. The Wagoneer consistently stays planted and secure.
It’s got the offroading chops too but we weren’t able to test this. Though we did experience some heavy snowstorms and even without winter tires, the Wagoneer carried prodigious grip thanks to its adept traction and stability control systems and ABS. It’s rear-wheel-drive biased too, meaning you can aid rotation just by adding more throttle. It gave us oodles of confidence in those inclement weather situations, making us wonder how much better it would be with actual winter tires.
The Grand Wagoneer is worth the monetary premium with its more powerful V8 engine, excellent cabin polish, and liberal use of wood and chrome designs however, the Wagoneer is already so well-equipped that you get eight-tenths of the experience for a fraction of the price. In truth, most of what the Grand Wagoneer offers is visual and aesthetic in nature, but we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either as a luxurious people-hauling companion.
Model: 2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II
Paint Type: River Rock Blue
Base Price: $80,995
Price as Tested: $93,075
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,453 / 2,124 / 2,025
Curb weight (kg): 2,807
Engine: 5.7-litre V8
Horsepower: 392 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 404 lb-ft @ 3,950 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 15.6 / 11.7 / 13.8
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 16.8
Tires: Goodyear Eagle Touring; 285/45R22