A few weeks back, Jeep invited me out to New York City to test the all-new 2022 Grand Wagoneer. This is the brand’s first entry into the large, body-on-frame segment since the last Wagoneer left the lineup in the early 1990s and like the original, the 2022 Grand Wagoneer is designed to set a new standard by which all large SUVs are judged.
After spending a day driving the big Jeep around New York, I can say that the team achieved their goal, as this is the most large impressive SUV in the market. From the comfort of the interior to the power of the 392 cubic inch Hemi, the 2022 Grand Wagoneer has no downsides from the driver’s seat.
Grand Wagoneer in NYC
Our day driving the 2022 Grand Wagoneer began in lower Manhattan. Jeep chose New York City because it is the metropolitan leader in SUV sales while New York itself leads all states in SUV sales, so lots of New Yorkers drive SUVs. If you have been to NYC, you know that there are a great many large SUVs in the dense traffic and in any given valet parking area, there are at least a few Cadillac Escalades, which is really the key competitor for the Grand Wagoneer.
Much to my surprise, the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer is easier than you might expect to navigate through congested streets. While it is the largest model to sport the Jeep badge, driver visibility is very good in every direction, allowing you to carefully cut through tight spaces.
In the worst case scenario, you can flip on the 360-degree camera system and get a bird’s eye view of your surroundings, which provides a clearer idea of just how close you are to the dump truck double parked on one side and the Audi R8 parked on the other side of the narrow, one lane road.
While New York City is an extreme example of a tight, urban driving setting, it showed how well the new Grand Wagoneer handles in a congested area. Anyone who is comfortable driving a large vehicle in a city setting will certainly enjoy driving the Grand Wagoneer for their daily grind.
Big Hemi Power
The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer that I drove in New York City looks a great deal like the concept that debuted last year. The biggest difference is that the concept is a hybrid while the production Grand Cherokee is powered by a 392-cubic inch Hemi. While the folks hoping for this to be a “green” vehicle are disappointed, this is the engine that this big, luxurious SUV needs to compete in the segment. With 471 horsepower and 455 lb-ft of torque, it is the most powerful engine in any of the big body-on-frame SUVs, besting the Lincoln Navigator and the Cadillac Escalade by a comfortable margin.
The 392 Hemi in the Grand Wagoneer has a nice rumble to it on startup, but it doesn’t roar like the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT with a similar engine under the hood. It is also surprisingly quiet when driving around town at low speeds, while still offering just enough rumble to remind you that you have big V8 power under the hood.
However, when you put the hammer down and really let the Grand Wagoneer stretch its legs, the Hemi comes to life with a throaty roar that is accompanied by a fairly healthy “bark” on shifts. It is nowhere near as loud or as aggressive as the SRT models with the similar engine, but for a large luxury SUV, the exhaust has just the right sound level when cruising and when accelerating.
More importantly, all of that Hemi power makes the Grand Wagoneer surprisingly quick. When coupled with the standard 8-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive, the Grand Wagoneer moves out strong from a stop, making it easier to get ahead of traffic in the city when you need to get over for an exit or to avoid another stretch of double-parked vehicles. Once you get out of the city, onto the highway, all of that power allows the Grand Wagoneer to effortlessly pass slower moving traffic, reaching speeds well beyond any posted limit with impressive urgency.
The Grand Wagoneer is big and heavy, so I don’t expect many people to take it racing, but I expect that it would outrun any of the other big SUVs in a drag race. More importantly, drivers are never going to complain about a lack of power. This new Jeep is a treat to drive, with loads of Hemi power on demand.
Stunningly Smooth, Quiet Ride
After spending a few hours in the city, we made our way into more rural areas, where we had open roads along quiet, rolling hills with more trees than traffic. The Grand Wagoneer does a remarkable job of keeping outside noise outside, but New York City is just plain noisy and I was driving with my windows open on a clear, relatively cool day.
Once we got out into the country, I noticed that this big vehicle creates very little noise. With the windows closed and the sunroof open, there is very little wind noise and next to no road noise. When you close the sunroof, it is like sealing yourself in a soundproof chamber.
It is crazy quiet, with little notice of wind or road noise, even at 55 miles per hour. You can feel some of the most severe bumps in the road, but you don’t hear them while smaller bumps are unnoticeable. Even when we were driving on rough dirt roads, very little of the sound or feel of the bumps made it into the cabin.
While the powerful Hemi makes the Grand Wagoneer as fun daily driver, the whisper-quiet cabin and ultra-smooth ride make it an idea option for anyone who spends lots of time in the vehicle with passengers. Whether you are taking to coworkers to lunch or taking your family on a long road trip, everyone will be comfortable and everyone will be able to hear each other in every seating position. It is hard to say that this is the quietest big SUV on the market without some sort of high tech test, but I guarantee that it is one of the quietest while being the quietest that I’ve tested.
On the other hand, I can say without a doubt that the 2022 Grand Wagoneer offers the best ride quality of any big SUV, even with the massive 22-inch wheels and the Drive Mode set to Sport. However, the engineers didn’t compromise driving dynamics in exchange for that great ride. As big SUVs go, the Grand Wagoneer is surprisingly nimble on curvy country roads, with minimal body roll and a steering system that is responsive without seeming too jerky.
Some luxury models soften the steering up too far, leading to a disconnected, artificial feel, but that isn’t the case with the Grand Wagoneer. Really, this Jeep feels smaller than it is, both in tight spaces and out on the open road. You never feel like you are driving a big, lumbering three-row SUV, even when driving it hard on a twisty country road.
True Premium Luxury
Finally, the interior of the Grand Wagoneer is impressive in every way. From the plush seats with a myriad of adjustments to ensure a comfortable ride to the massive infotainment and digital gauge screens to the McIntosh speaker system, every aspect of the cabin presents a true, premium feel.
The infotainment system is remarkably easy to use with the use touchscreen, the HVAC controls are easily accessible through the lower center console screen and the materials all have a very high end feel. You can experience the interior sitting still in the new Grand Wagoneer, but when you hit the road, there are few SUVs that offer such an immersive luxury experience. This Jeep will make Escalade owners rethink their Cadillac.
The new Jeep Grand Wagoneer was worth the wait. The interior is plush and comfortable, it rides and handles remarkably well for its size and it is surprisingly quick for a non-performance model. In every way, the new Grand Wagoneer represents the new pinnacle of premium SUVs.