2023 Jeep Wagoneer Review

2023 Jeep Wagoneer - Giving Ford and Chevrolet a run for their money, the Wagoneer demands your attention.


After adding the full-size Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer to its SUV lineup last year, Jeep literally grows again by adding stretched models badged L. Also new for 2023 is a twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Regardless of body length or engine, Wagoneer offers three rows of seats for a capacity of up to 8 passengers and has a rugged body-on-frame chassis that's designed for towing and hauling. Standard length models are slightly larger than the standard Chevrolet Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon and Lincoln Navigator, while the L models are similarly longer than their stretched-wheelbase competitors. Wagoneer is offered with rear- or 4-wheel drive. Grand Wagoneer is only offered with 4-wheel drive.

Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer have a 123-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 214 inches. L models get a 130-inch wheelbase and 266-inch overall length. The engine lineup can be a bit confusing, but consists of a 5.7-liter V8, new twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six and 6.4-liter V8. The 5.7 comes only in the Wagoneer where it makes 392 horsepower. The twin-turbo I6 is standard in the Grand Wagoneer and optional in the Wagoneer. In the Grand it makes 510 horsepower and in the Wagoneer it makes 420 horsepower. The 6.4-liter V8 is offered only in the Grand Wagoneer where it makes 471 horsepower. Sole transmission offering is an 8-speed automatic. While rear-wheel drive is standard in the Wagoneer, optional on Wagoneer and standard on all Grand Wagoneers is a full-time 4WD system that comes with a 2-speed transfer case and an electronic limited slip rear differential. Maximum towing capacity is 10,000 pounds.

Standard safety equipment on all models includes forward-collision warning with brake assist. Blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear parking sensors. Other standard features include LED headlights, hands-free liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, tri-zone climate control, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, power-adjustable pedals and 115-volt AC power outlet. Prices start as low as $61,000 for the Wagoneer. Grand Wagoneer starts at $90,000.

While the standard 5.7-liter V8 in Wagoneer is certainly serviceable, Grand Wagoneer's standard 6.4-liter V8 is one of the best engines in the class. It always provides ample power and works well with the 8-speed automatic. When pressed, it will push the 6300-pound beast from 0 to 60 MPH in less than 6 seconds. Impressive indeed. The engine is smooth at all times and has the kind of low-end torque that is necessary for towing and hauling.

Given that Wagoneer is a Jeep, you'd expect it to be capable off road. That's mostly the case, but the sheer size and 123-inch or 130-inch wheelbase limit its maneuverability in tight spaces. The 4-wheel-drive system can be operated on dry ground and has a low range for use off road, if necessary. In addition to 4-wheel drive, Grand Wagoneer offers an adaptive air suspension that can raise its ride height up to 3.6 inches or lower it by a half-inch. Overall, it boasts 10 inches of ground clearance, up to two feet of water-fording capability.

If the powertrain has an Achilles' heel, it's fuel economy. While GM opts for cylinder deactivation on its big V8 and Ford goes the turbocharging route, Wagoneer mostly sticks to tried-and-true technology, which isn't the most efficient. EPA ratings of 13 MPG city and 19 MPG highway bear that out. In addition, premium-grade fuel is required on Grand Wagoneer models. However, Jeep does offer a lower-horsepower version of the twin-turbo V6 that both gets better fuel economy than rivals and runs on regular-grade gasoline. To be fair, the Cadillac and Lincoln require premium-grade fuel and only get a MPG or two better in most cases. Real-world driving backs up the EPA estimates. You'll have to drive with an empty load and a light throttle foot to achieve more than 15 MPG overall. Thankfully, Wagoneer offers a large 26.5-gallon fuel tank.

As with its domestic rivals, the Wagoneer utilizes body-on-frame underpinnings -- one that is shared with the Ram 1500 pickup truck. However, the Jeep gets an independent rear suspension rather than the Ram's solid rear axle. That one simple change along with the available air suspension means all the world. Instead of riding like a softly sprung truck, the Wagoneer drives like a large crossover. You can still feel hints of the truck-based chassis on bumpy roads and in quick transitions, though, to be fair, you feel the same thing in Escalade, Expedition and Tahoe.

Thanks to the very long wheelbase and generous tire sidewalls, the ride is very comfortable. It grows a bit busier with the available 22-inch wheels, so be sure to test drive the exact vehicle before you buy. Large bumps are nicely smothered by the absorbent suspension, though at times you can feel some rebound as the front rides over expansion joints. Overall, Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer offer a better ride than any competitor.

As you might expect from a large crossover, nimbleness is not a forte. Calling Wagoneer cumbersome or ponderous would going too far, drivers just need to be aware that you can't expect a 3-ton wagon to react like a sports car. For that part, the steering is a bit slow, and that is most noticeable at parking speeds. Brakes have an easy-to-modulate pedal, but stopping distances seem a trifle long. There's noticeable body lean in turns and the stability control system kicks in very early to mitigate any boneheaded driving maneuvers.

Interior noise levels are low, especially up front. There's hardly any road noise and only a whisper of wind noise at highway speeds. There's a bit more noise in the third-row seat, but still not objectionable.

From the first second inside, its apparent that Grand Wagoneer has taken over the role as flagship at Jeep and the Wagoneer mostly comes along for the ride, although the materials are generally a bit more pedestrian. Either way, the interior is welcoming, modern and fitted with high quality materials throughout. Though there are LOTS of screens and buttons, there's a simplicity to the design that will certainly reassure the technology adverse.

Size wise, Wagoneer splits the difference between the short-wheelbase versions of the Escalade and Navigator with somewhat less passenger volume than both in the front seat, somewhat more in the second and third row. L models are positively enormous and likely won't fit in most garages. Comfort wise, there's no comparison, seats are more comfortable across the board. Head and leg room are generous in all seating positions, with the second-row captain's chairs being particularly comfy. The front seats also have an available massaging feature, that, along with the adaptive cruise control, go a long way to reducing long-haul driving fatigue. And, thanks to very large windows, outward visibility is very good.

From a technology perspective there is little doubt that Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are tops in the class -- if nothing else than on screens alone. The center stack packs a 12.0-inch center touchscreen that sits above a 10.3-inch touchscreen with controls for the HVAC system. Starting on the Series II, there's yet another 10.3-inch touchscreen for the front-seat passenger. Second-row passengers are also treated to another 10.3-inch touchscreen between the captain's chairs; opting for the rear-seat entertainment system adds a pair of 10.1-inch touchscreens. Features include a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and USB ports in all three rows. Topping it all off, Grand Wagoneer has a powerful McIntosh stereo, but the Series II and up get a more powerful 1375-watt unit with 23 speakers.

On the cargo front, Grand Wagoneer's max capacity of 116.7 cubic feet bests its domestic competition by 7.6 to 16.4 cubic feet. It should be noted that if you opt for the captain's chairs with center console, capacity is reduced to 94.2. Jeep also offers more space behind the second and third rows, too. Interior storage is excellent.

Bottom Line --
Look out Chevrolet, Cadillac, Ford and Lincoln, there's a new kid in town. Though Wagoneer may be an old name, the vehicle is completely new and extremely competitive. It's loaded with safety and technology features, offers ample interior room, packs a powerful engine and heaps on the comfort. It's priced competitively against mainstream and luxury competitors. If you are shopping for a large SUV, you'd be a fool not to test drive this latest offering from Jeep.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.