For full-size SUVs, bigger is better – again. Just look at today’s large SUVs like Chevrolet’s Tahoe and Suburban or Ford’s Expedition and Expedition Max. While getting slightly smaller in the early 2000’s, that was short lived and they have been on a growth spurt ever since, with every generation being slightly larger than the previous one.
This year, Jeep entered the full-size SUV market with the Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Now, for 2023, they are taking it a step further and are making an even larger version of the Grand Wagoneer. And they are aiming high – looking past the Suburban and Expedition and instead having their sights on the luxury variants, the Cadillac Escalade ESV and Lincoln Navigator L.
The Grand Wagoneer carries its heritage from the Jeep Wagoneer which made its debut in 1963 and most people remember it for its popular side wood paneling. The Wagoneer was dropped in 1993 but returned last year with the new Grand Wagoneer name.
The 2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L is an extended version of the Grand Wagoneer and rides on a wheelbase that is 7 inches longer than the regular version and overall is 12 inches longer, giving it a total length of 226.7 inches. As a comparison, the Cadillac Escalade ESV is 227 inches long while the Lincoln Navigator L is 221.9 inches long. Oddly, enough, Ford’s short-lived Excursion (2000-2005) which was deemed “too big” was 226.7 inches in length – the exact same length as the Grand Wagoneer L.
Based on the Ram 1500, both Grand Wagoneers are built on a solid, proven foundation, although the Grand Wagoneers employ an independent rear suspension rather than the Ram’s solid rear axle. It’s a truck-based three-row SUV, and in L form, offers generous amounts of legroom in both the second-row legroom and third-row seats. Behind that third-row is a massive 44.2 cubic feet of cargo space. With the second- and third-row seats folded, the cargo space expands to a substantial 130.9 cubic feet. Yes – the Grand Wagoneer L is huge.
Unlike the Grand Wagoneer, which comes standard with a 6.4-liter V8 engine (471 horsepower, 455 lb-ft of torque), the Grand Wagoneer L uses a new high-output 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-6 engine. Called the Hurricane, this engine makes 510 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque and sends the power to all wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity is 9,450 pounds.
Standard on every Grand Wagoneer L is Jeeps Quadra-Trac II 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system that comes with a 2-speed transfer case with a setting for extreme off-roading. Optional is the Quadra-Drive II system with an electronic rear limited-slip differential. It also detects wheel slip and automatically transfers engine power to the wheels with grip.
With the intent of the big Jeep to compete against Cadillac and Lincoln, the Grand Wagoneer L is quite luxurious. And expensive. The Series I starts at $91,495 and comes with 7-passenger seating with the standard second-row captain’s chairs (8-passenger seating is available), a 12-inch color gauge cluster and a driver information display, 20-way power-adjustable front seats (that have built in massagers) and a 3-panel sunroof. It rides on 20-inch wheels and has Quadra-Lift – a height-adjustable air suspension that adjusts to any of five settings and offers ground clearance ranging from 6.4 to 10 inches.
Expanding on that is the Series II that gets an upgraded Palermo leather seating, passenger-seat memory, a digital rearview camera mirror and traffic-sign recognition. It rides on 22-inch alloy wheels and starts at $98,080.
The Obsidian enhances the look of the L with a blacked-out exterior and interior accents as well as the addition of a 23-speaker McIntosh audio system, a front console cooler, a front-passenger interactive display, and ventilated rear seats. It starts at $103,585.
Rounding out the Grand Wagoneer L is the Series III. For your $110,995, you get night vision which uses thermographic technology and Active Driving Assist – Jeep’s semi-autonomous driver-assistance system.
Not only was this the first time I have been in a Grand Wagoneer, but this is also the first time for me to experience the new Hurricane engine from Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles). Sitting high, the cabin feels huge – with the center console dominating the front part of the cabin. Buttons and switches are everywhere, and it takes a moment to take it all in. The driving position is great, and with all the windows, outward visibility is excellent. There isn’t a bad seat in the house – including the third row. If a comfortable third row is a must, the Grand Wagoneer L is the one.
On the road, the well-insulated cabin blocks against all types of noise, and the ride is very smooth and comfortable – that long wheelbase paying dividends. The L’s steering is light and overboosted, with essentially no feeling of connection to the road. This isn’t a Wrangler. And its size really makes itself known as it feels more like you’re navigating a cargo ship than driving an SUV. Lane changes and parking takes some careful planning – agile it is not.
Beating the old Hemi V-8 in both acceleration and fuel economy, the new turbocharged inline-6 is impressive. Tests show it can move this huge SUV to 60 mph from a standstill in under 5 seconds. In fact, the Grand Wagoneer L is both quicker and more efficient than the shorter, lighter regular Grand Wagoneer with the 6.4-liter Hemi V8.
But being more efficient doesn’t mean the Grand Wagoneer is stingy with fuel. It isn’t, as the EPA rates it at 14 mpg city and 19 mph highway.
Jeep is a brand that thrives on its rugged imagery and serious off-road capability, much of that due to the popular Wrangler. But with the Grand Wagoneer L, Jeeps looks to conquer a new frontier – that of the full-size, high-priced, luxury SUV market.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L Obsidian 4×4
Base Price: $98,090.00
Price as Tested: $109,225.00
Layout: front-engine / four-wheel drive
Engine: Hurricane 3.0 liter inline-6 twin turbo
Transmission: 8 – speed automatic
Horsepower: 510 hp
Torque: 50 ft/lb
EPA Fuel Economy: 14 city / 19 highway mpg
[Visit me at www.carsbycar.blogspot.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org]