At first glance, the arrival of the the 2022 Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer seem like little more than an attempt to grab market share as auto buyers increasingly fall for ever-larger and more opulent trucks. But the effort is far from a one-off proposition. The Wagoneer twins are the foundation of an entirely new premium sub-brand, allowing Jeep to maintain its off-road aura while fielding ever-more luxurious SUVs without tainting Jeep’s hard-core image. This why you’ll struggle to find the Jeep name anywhere on a Wagoneer, although it’s there if you look hard enough.
“Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are establishing a sub-brand that will be called ‘Wagoneer,’” said Rachel Fellrath, senior marketing manager for the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, in an exclusive interview with TheDetroitBureau.com earlier this month. “There are currently two models. The idea is we get a portfolio of products in the future.”
So, just like Range Rover has a model called the Range Rover, Wagoneer has a model called the Wagoneer, starting price $57,995. It also has the Grand Wagoneer, starting price $86,995. So what’s the difference? Both are offered in Series I, Series II and Series III trim, and the Grand Wagoneer gets a murdered-out Obsidian model — however, there are distinctions worth considering.
How they’re built
If the 2022 Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer seem like identical twins, to some extent, you’d be correct. (You can read about our driving impressions of the new Grand Wagoneer by clicking here.) They are the same size and use a modified version of the Ram 1500 platform. So, unlike every Range Rover, and every Jeep except the Wrangler, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer employ body-on-frame construction. This allows the use of the same frame, while easily switching the body on top of it. Given Wagoneer’s premium-priced market segment, this allows for healthy profit margins as more models are added or existing models updated.
Exterior differences are few, but obvious
As you’d expect, aside from the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer lettering on their tailgates, the easiest way to tell these two apart is their paint job: The Grand Wagoneer has a black-painted roof along with copper-tinted windows, chrome window trim and a different grille design. It also sports 22-inch wheels rather than the 20 inchers on the Wagoneer.
Buyers can opt for an All-Terrain Package on the Wagoneer, with 18 inches on the Series II trim level or 20 inches on the Series III. Suspension is fully independent and offers 8 inches of ground clearance. A Quadra-Lift air suspension system is standard on the Grand Wagoneer, and optional on the Wagoneer and clears up to 10 inches. Water-fording is rated at 24 inches. A rear load-leveling suspension is standard on the Grand Wagoneer, Wagoneer Series III, and optional on the Wagoneer Series II.
The inside story: Opulence
Both Wagoneers offer 179.2 cubic feet of passenger pace across three rows of seats. As in any SUV, the second row can be either captain’s chairs (standard in the Grand Wagoneer, optional on the Wagoneer), or a bench seat (standard on the Wagoneer, optional on the Grand Wagoneer). As you’d expect, all models get leather seating, although the Grand Wagoneer’s skins are Palermo leather rather than Nappa, and are quilted. The 12-position driver’s seat on the Wagoneer is exactly half the number available on its pricier sibling.
All models have heated and ventilated first-row seats, and can be fitted with second-row heated seats. But only the Grand Wagoneer gets second-row ventilated seats. And if you’re looking for wood trim, you’ll find real American walnut on the Grand Wagoneer — but only on the inside. However, a Smoker’s Package is optional on all models.
The Wagoneer can haul
When it comes time to schlep people, cargo, or both, you’ll find both Wagoneers have V-8 drivelines. The Wagoneer gets an overhead-valve 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with eTorque 48-volt hybrid driveline generating 392 horsepower and 404 pound-feet of torque. The EPA fuel economy rating comes in at 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, and 15/20/17 consecutively with four-wheel drive. Jeep recommends using mid-grade 89-octane fuel, although regular unleaded is acceptable. Towing is rated at 10,000 pounds. Payload is rated at 1,510-1,580 pounds with rear-wheel drive, 1,550-1,560 pounds with four-wheel drive.
The Grand Wagoneer gets an overhead-valve 6.4-liter V-8 delivering 471 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque. As you’d expect, the EPA rating is far worse, at 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined with four-wheel drive; rear-wheel drive is not offered on the Grand Wagoneer. Towing is slightly lower than the Wagoneer at 9,850 pounds. Payload is notably lower however, at 1,360-1,380 pounds. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard with either engine. Both engines are manufactured in Saltillo, Mexico.
Three 4×4 systems are offered. Quadra-Trac I with a single-speed transfer case is standard on the Wagoneer 4×4 Series II. Quadra-Trac II with a two-speed transfer case is standard on the Wagoneer 4×4 Series III. Full-time Quadra-Drive II with active low range and rear electronic limited slip differential is standard on the Grand Wagoneer, and optional on the Wagoneer. A terrain management system is standard on all four-wheel drive models.
Wagoneer’s impressive technology package
Uniquely, the Grand Wagoneer offers a touchscreen for the front screen passenger. In fact, there’s 75 inches of displays across the Series III’s seven screens, including the instrument cluster, center infotainment screen, front passenger screen, dual second-row screens and two climate control screens.
All Wagoneers keep you connected thanks to eight USB ports (11 when equipped with the optional Rear Seat Video Group), an auxiliary jack, two auxiliary 12-volt power outlets and a 115-volt outlet. A 10.1-inch infotainment screen with navigation is standard in the Wagoneer; it grows to 12 inches in the Grand Wagoneer. However, you can’t get the larger 12-inch screen as an option in the Wagoneer. A six-month trial subscription to TomTom Traffic and Travel is standard.
A nine-speaker Alpine premium audio system with subwoofer and amplifier is standard in the Wagoneer. A 19-speaker, 950-watt premium McIntosh MX950 audio system with 10-inch subwoofer is optional in the Wagoneer and standard in the Grand Wagoneer. But audiophiles will want the Grand Wagoneer, if only for its 23-speaker, 1,375-watt McIntosh MX1375 audio sound system with 12-inch subwoofer. A Rear Seat Entertainment package with dual 10.1-in. screens, USB/HDMI ports and Fire TV for Auto is optional on all models. There’s 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight wireless devices, Bluetooth connectivity for two phones simultaneously, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Two new contenders
With the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer throws down the gauntlet in the luxury SUV class, with a mix of style, capability and options list that should prove tempting for many buyers in this class.
In another era, they would have called it the Imperial.