Driving report: Jeep Wagoneer 3.0 4×4: The US comeback

Driving report: Jeep Wagoneer 3.0 4×4: The US comeback

The Wagoneer is largely unknown in Europe, but in North America the top model from Jeep has been a big number since the 1960s. Reason enough for the Stellantis Group to revive the Wagoneer in order to take part in the concert of premium brands. Soon also in Europe.

When you think of the large Jeep off-road vehicle, crossover or SUV, the first thing that comes to mind is the Grand Cherokee. Some still remember the Commander, which was intended to open up new sales groups in upper segments a decade ago. But the Commander flopped and in the context of increasingly important luxury off-road vehicles, the Grand Cherokee was no longer sufficient even when it was added to the portfolio with an extended wheelbase two years ago. What could be more natural than reviving the former flagship Wagoneer / Grand Wagoneer? Over the decades, the Grand Cherokee’s big brother has become a modern, high-tech off-road cruiser that doesn’t have to hide from the BMW X7, Mercedes GLS, Range Rover or Cadillac Escalade. Gone, however, are the former wooden planks that gave the Grand Wagoneer the charm of an old woodie. The Wagoneer is currently only available in North America, but from 2025 it is also planned for Europe in order to annoy the German premium competition.

“Our new Grand Wagoneer concept car marks the first step in the rebirth of the Wagoneer – a true American premium icon,” says Christian Meunier, Global President of the Jeep brand, “with the electrification of every additional Jeep model and the reintroduction of the Wagoneer, we are expanding quickly into new segments and consolidate our premium position.” Introduced in 1962, the Wagoneer was the first vehicle with four-wheel drive and an automatic transmission and thus the pioneer of today’s SUV. Two decades later in 1984, the Grand Wagoneer marked the start of the era of luxury off-road vehicles in the USA by offering its customers exclusive equipment with electric leather seats, air conditioning and a sound system that made long journeys more relaxing than ever.

“The original Grand Wagoneer was the first premium SUV, and its timeless design – combined with the soul of America – helped it win a place in many hearts,” said chief designer Ralph Gilles, “The Grand Wagoneer concept car is inspired by the original, but with a modern interpretation of luxury and freedom. We wanted to create an elegant design with a timeless silhouette that achieves a solid presence with countless, beautifully designed details.” The Wagoneer is always luxurious and so the drive doesn’t hold back either. When it comes to positioning on the home market, the Stellantis brand is unusually self-confident. With a starting price of around $63,000, a Wagoneer is currently almost twice as expensive as a Grand Cherokee, which starts at $35,000. The same applies to the long-wheelbase version, as the Wagoneer L starts at just under $93,000, while the Grand Wagoneer sells for under $43,000. Unlike a few decades ago, the flagship in the drive portfolio is a three-liter in-line six-cylinder engine with double turbocharging that produces 308 kW / 420 hp and 636 Nm of maximum torque. A look under the hood not only shows a handsome, state-of-the-art combustion engine, but also a plaque that proves that the Wagoneer is produced in Warren, Michigan.

The once so image-rich 5.7-liter V8 is only offered in discontinued models, but in terms of performance it is behind the newly developed six-cylinder in-line engine with 288 kW / 392 hp. The Grand Wagoneer ranks above this with its around 480 hp 6.4-liter V8 engine. The standard six-cylinder is as smooth as it is powerful, enabling it to confidently drive the all-wheel drive vehicle, which weighs more than 2.6 tonnes. Apart from the sonorous, babbling sound, no one misses an eight-cylinder engine. From a standstill it takes just under seven seconds to reach 100 km/h; just as unimpressive as the maximum speed of 180 km/h that the version can travel due to the US tires. The engine itself would accelerate the new edition to well over 220 km/h. The promised standard consumption: just under 13 liters per 100 kilometers. With the 100 liter tank there are 600 kilometers until the next refueling stop.

The chassis with the standard 20-inch wheels in 275/55 format is comfortable – as comfortable as you would expect from a luxury model in this league, especially to rival the Cadillac Escalade, which has been so successful for years. On request, there is not only one of three different all-wheel drive systems, but also air suspension, with which the ground clearance can be variably adjusted. The set-up is not too soft or the multi-ton colossus wobbles too much when you are driving faster on country roads. The steering could be more direct, but it fits well with the relaxed character of the six-seater, which, thanks to the good coordination of the in-line six-cylinder and eight-speed automatic transmission, drives as casually as you would want in this top league. This also applies to the low noise level, because even at higher speeds of over 150 km/h, the colossus mimics the casual cruiser and relaxes its occupants more than ever. The Wagoneer is a real Jeep, because apart from the particularly affordable entry-level model with an unsuitable rear-wheel drive, it not only offers three 4×4 versions and an impressive ground clearance, which it skilfully compensates for with electrically extendable running boards when stationary, but also with a technology package that Its finely tuned driving programs give you every option, even off-road.

The luxury in the interior of the 5.45 meter long American is impressive – especially for a US model without a Cadillac label. The screen length extends over one meter across the width of the dashboard: the animated driver information display behind the steering wheel alone measures 31 centimeters, and the touchscreen in the center console, which acts as the main monitor, is just as large – combined with a horizontally mounted 26 centimeter touchscreen underneath. In addition, an equally large touchscreen supplies the front passenger. The passengers in the second row still have a massive 76 centimeter display at their disposal – including a 26 centimeter monitor in the center console between the very comfortable individual seats, which, however, can only be operated manually in the rear. Each passenger in the second row of seats also has their own 26 centimeter infotainment touchscreen. There are also air-conditioned and electrically adjustable comfort chairs at the front made of leather, sustainable materials inside and workmanship that is extremely worth seeing.

If there is not enough space for you, you can opt for the version with a long wheelbase (plus 18 cm); then it becomes even more lush. But the 3.12 meter wheelbase of the normal version should satisfy most customers, even with larger families. This also applies to the cargo space, as there is still 775 liters of volume behind the two seats in the third row. If you fold this down and turn the Wagoneer into a generously sized four-seater, it offers just over 2,000 liters more than any large European station wagon and a flat loading area.

Source: Stern

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