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Reviews

2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L Review: I6 Sense

Design | Comfort | Tech | Performance | Safety | Fuel Economy | Pricing | FAQ

I don’t mean to speak ill of the dying, but the Jeep Grand Wagoneer’s 6.4-liter V8 was probably not the best choice for a flagship SUV. Perfectly at home in muscle cars and pickup trucks, the 471-horsepower Hemi wasn’t quite energetic or refined enough for a 6,000-plus-pound luxury SUV.

The 2023 Grand Wagoneer’s new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six, though, feels tailor-made for premium duty. In high-output guise (exclusive to the Grand member of the Wagoneer family), it packs 510 hp and 500 pound-feet of torque with a smooth, quiet charm. This is the engine the Grand Wagoneer should have launched with.

Also new for 2023 is the extended-length body. Awkward in pictures, its proportions work far better in the real world, while the added third-row space and increased cargo volume more than make up for the lumbering SUV’s bad manners in tight parking lots.

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  • Exterior Color: Baltic Gray/Black Pearl Coat
  • Interior Color: Global Black
  • Wheel Size: 22 Inches

Well, it’s long. Very long. The Grand Wagoneer L adds a foot to the standard body with seven inches of that coming between the axles. And while the long-wheelbase body’s proportions look as elegant as a barn in photos, the extra length doesn’t look that unnatural in person. Still, I’d avoid my Series II tester for its satin chrome window surrounds in favor of something black – the brightwork adds visual mass to an already massive vehicle.

The Grand Wagoneer’s polarizing exterior gives way to a stunning interior. This vehicle continues to lead Jeep’s vehicles in material quality, with ample wood, leather, and some truly gorgeous pieces of milled aluminum for the gear selector dial and drive mode/ride height toggles. But it’s also modern, with a glass-intensive design that, aside from some redundant touch-capacitive buttons on either side of the main display, relies on touchscreens (for better or worse).

  • Seating Capacity: 7
  • Seating Configuration: 2 / 2 / 3
  • Cargo Capacity: Spec Sheet Format

The first- and second-row seats in the Grand Wagoneer L are as comfortable as in the short-wheelbase model. Huge support and plenty of padding, along with one of the best massage systems in the game, make covering long distances easy. Life in the third-row seems better on first blush, although Jeep’s own specs sheet lists identical third-row legroom measurements for both versions of the Grand Wagoneer.

The new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter engine is dramatically more refined than the likable-but-uncouth 6.4-liter, making less noise and emitting a smoother exhaust note. Frankly, I want Chrysler to stuff this thing in a reborn 300, where it would be a natural fit for a luxury sedan. Wind and tire noise on the GC L remain negligible, and ride quality is slightly better on rough roads owing to the longer wheelbase. Still, the Jeep’s air suspension can’t hold a candle to the ultra-isolated Cadillac Escalade and its combo of magnetic dampers and air springs.

  • Center Display: 12.1-inch Touchscreen
  • Instrument Cluster Display: 12.3 Inches
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes/Yes

You like screens? Because we got screens. Even without the optional 10.3-inch passenger display, this Series II tester comes standard with 45 inches of real estate. The digital cluster is beautiful and easy to navigate via big physical buttons on the steering wheel, while the upper display on the center stack is super responsive. Uconnect 5 powers it all and remains one of our favorite arrangements on the market. The lower display, for climate controls and the excellent massage system, stows away at the press of a button, which is nice if the screens start to feel overwhelming.

A 19-speaker McIntosh audio system is standard, but the 23-speaker unit is a no-brainer upgrade. Despite fewer speakers than in a Navigator or Escalade (props to the Caddy’s glorious 36-speaker AKG setup), the McIntosh arrangement gives up little in terms of fidelity or all-encompassing sound.

  • Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 3.0-liter I6
  • Output: 510 Horsepower / 500 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic

The Grand Wagoneer’s new twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter is a gem. The lone engine in the luxury lineup for 2023, it’s quick to spool and impressively smooth underway, with few peaks or valleys to trip up the acceleration. The soundtrack is classic for a straight-six and exudes the refinement we’ve grown used to from generations of BMW six-cylinders. Paired with an excellent eight-speed automatic, the Grand Wagoneer might have my favorite powertrain in this incredibly competitive segment.

Towing does take a small hit, though. While the base Wagoneer L can still haul 10,000 pounds, the tow rating for this high-output engine is down from 9,850 for the old 6.4-liter to 9,450 pounds.

And the good news ends there. While the Grand Wagoneer L has the hardware to go off road, I’d happily trade that capability for better on-road performance. This is a big, heavy SUV and it’ll remind you of that fact around every bend. The steering is vague, but has a pleasant weight to it, while the brakes are merely adequate. Less pedal travel or more aggressive bite wouldn’t hurt when decelerating 6,700 pounds of luxury SUV.

  • Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
  • NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
  • IIHS Rating: Not Rated

Despite its flagship status, the Grand Wagoneer still demands some extra coin for peak active safety gear. This Series II tester requires a $3,795 Convenience pack to add Active Driving Assist, which Jeep claims will one day include hands-free driving. For now, it’s a hands-on affair, but is a very good one.

Even without that package, though, the Series II comes standard with full-speed adaptive cruise, lane-keep assist, and automatic emergency braking. ADA is a nice addition, but the Grand Wagoneer Series II’s standard suite is adequate, with all the systems working well to reduce the driver’s workload on the highway.

  • City: 14 MPG
  • Highway: 19 MPG
  • Combined: 16 MPG
  • Base Price: $87,995 + $2,000 Destination
  • Trim Base Price: $100,090
  • As-Tested Price: $106,325 (est)

The 2023 Grand Wagoneer starts at $89,995, including a $2,000 destination charge, for the short-wheelbase Series I, while the long-wheelbase body costs $3,500 on the base model and $3,000 on the Series II and above. With that in mind, the Series II featured here starts at $100,090 before options.

There’s but one no-cost paint option, so plan on ponying up $695 unless you’re content with the stormtrooper-spec white body and black roof. My tester replaced its 22-inch alloys with a slightly different set of 22-inch alloys that also costs $1,595 – bad deal, that. The $3,995 Premium Group is worth the cost, though, thanks to the 23-speaker McIntosh audio system. It also adds a cooler in the center console and ventilated second-row captain’s chairs.

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