Keep those wagons rolling. The large SUV sector is dominated by American brands, manufacturing outsized three-row vehicles that wouldn’t really work anywhere else in the world. Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet have had this market pretty much to themselves for decades, and it’s surprising that Jeep is only now getting in on the act. Having dusted down the iconic Wagoneer brand, and fitted Born in America plaques inside its latest model, Jeep is playing the heritage card for all it’s worth.

The modern-day Wagoneer comes in a variety of forms, with standard models joined by L versions that add an extra foot of length to an already huge vehicle. Both the standard Wagoneer and its long(er) wheelbase L version can also be specified in Grand format, which bundles in loads of luxury at a considerable cost. A fully loaded Grand Wagoneer L will cost north of $110,000, which is a huge increase over the base model’s $60,895 sticker price. The long-wheelbase version commands a premium between $3,000 and $5,000, while all-wheel drive is $3,000 extra.

Groaning with equipment. Even the most affordable Wagoneer practically drips in equipment, including ventilated leather front seats, an Alpine sound system and a power tailgate. The Series III offers everything from a head-up display to air suspension above 20-inch wheels. Grand models are all about numbers, with a three-pane sunroof, 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, 20-inch wheels and 24-way power front seats.

By the time you reach the Grand Wagoneer L Series III, the speaker count has increased to 23 while other features include quilted Palermo leather trim, ventilated second-row seats, and a fridge. You can also have as much as 75 inches of screen real estate, including dedicated screens for the front passenger and middle-row occupants, streaming Amazon Fire TV and equipped with a remote control featuring the all-important Netflix button.

2023 Jeep Wagoneer Interior

Ride, not handling. A three-ton SUV won’t make much of an impression parked outside COP28, but it certainly makes an impression on road surfaces, by pummeling them into submission. Even without the air suspension fitted on most models, the ride is exceptional – with it installed, road manners are sublime. Rear load-leveling suspension maintains balance when a trailer (of up to 10,000 lb) is attached, while the air suspension can increase ground clearance to ten inches or drop it to 7.4 in the misnamed Sport mode.

The payoff for this luxuriant ride quality is inevitably found in driving dynamics. The Wagoneer lumbers and lurches around corners, with slow-witted steering adding to the sense of piloting a wardrobe. The base 5.7-liter V8 offers effective performance, though it’s eclipsed by the sheer power of the 6.4-liter V8 or the turbo-6 installed in most Grand Wagoneers.

An eight-speed automatic transmission does a fine job of applying power to the road across the range, and AWD models have decent off-road abilities – as you’d expect from any vehicle bearing a seven-slot radiator grille. If you go for the top-range Quadra-Drive II system, it has an electronic limited-slip rear diff and adjustable torque splitting, while even Quadra-Drive I models have low-range gearing.

The final frontier. The Wagoneer is a vast vehicle externally, and that carries through to its cabin. While other vehicles claim to accommodate eight people, the big Jeep really does. Not only that, it offers loads of legroom (even in the third row), while a fully-loaded L still offers over 44 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Rear occupants aren’t poor relations for once, with heated and ventilated seats alongside USB sockets and rear entertainment systems, though the front seats are the last word in comfort.

As you’d expect for the money, higher trims are lavishly fitted with open-pore timber and metal. You can have up to six different screens across the cabin, making this a techie wonderland. On a related note, the Wagoneer’s safety roster runs from automatic emergency braking to rear cross-traffic and blind-spot monitoring. Other features are either options or only fitted to higher trims – adaptive cruise, surround-view cameras and a driver attention monitor. These should really be standard across the range, in our view.

Final thoughts. It’s curious that Jeep has chosen to enter the large SUV market at the exact moment disruptors like Rivian are ushering us towards an era of electrification and futuristic design. There’s nothing futuristic about a three-ton Jeep with V8 engines, slab-sided design and combined fuel economy of just 15 MPG in some versions. A mild hybrid system on the 5.7-liter V8 does little to improve fuel economy, though it does add 130 lb-ft of torque.

The Wagoneer is almost completely out of step with modern trends. Yet for that reason alone, many people will love it. It’s impossible not to be seduced by its sumptuous ride, allied to a cabin that transports eight adults in indulgent comfort. Equipment levels range from generous to lavish, and performance is far brisker than the Wagoneer’s looks or aerodynamics might suggest. It’s the ideal vehicle to be driven long distances in, but we wouldn’t fancy being the driver at journey’s end when car parks and filling stations await.

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