The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer is Jeep’s first attempt at a truly luxurious interior. At its price point, the Grand Wagoneer is meant to take on veterans of full-size luxury like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.
The question is: did Jeep succeed? For the most part, yes. Not in some areas.
We start with the yes. Our test vehicle is the Grand Wagoneer Obsidian, the second highest trim level available, directly below the Series III. It starts at $96,845 and after the options are counted, the final price is $109,025. At first glance, this interior looks and feels every cent of that exorbitant price. Get rid of the idea that Jeep can’t build a luxury car because it can, and it did.
The Palermo leather upholstered 24-way heated, cooled and massage seats are beautiful to look at with good stitching, contrast stitching and striking contrast piping. Even the power headrest is a work of art and the seat controls themselves are beautifully presented on the door á la Mercedes. Perhaps even more striking is the sheer amount of real walnut trim that adorns the interior. Thoughtfully placed throughout, it dominates the center console and greatly enhances this interior. Where you don’t see wood, Jeep uses glossy black upholstery, leather and metal. We’re normally big mad about overusing gloss black trim, but the only place we can nitpick is using it around the gear knob. That’s a high-touch area that will collect fingerprints and dust, but elsewhere glossy black is used on vertical surfaces where it’s not as prone to issues. Good.
Metal-lined knobs and knobs are another hallmark of luxury, and this Jeep has those in spades. The aforementioned gear lever is an intricately formed piece of aluminum, and it’s great to use – just wear gloves in the winter, because it gets cold. Both the volume and tuning knobs are derived from McIntosh (read more about the audio system here), and they spin with a quality feel. The drive mode selector is a metal switch, as is the drive height selector. Really, there are few things you touch in this interior that are substandard – even the start/stop button is presented as a centerpiece, surrounded by a ring and wrapped in a French stitch, all while sitting on top of a piece of cut wood. If we had to complain, we’d be directing our anger at the flat black and dull-looking turn signal and wiper rods that are just parts pulled from the Stellantis range.
It’s a wonder we haven’t mentioned the screens yet, because there are so many of them. With the rear entertainment package, there are a total of eight screens, including the digital rear-view mirror. Most of them are excellent in execution, but there are some issues that are best referred to as growing pains or not? moments in the user experience.
For example, the heated/cooled seats are controlled by touch-sensitive areas on a sheet of black piano cover (top left). Their backlighting is uneven which makes them look a bit cheap/happy at night. In addition, their functionality is questionable. It takes several stitches to activate them on seemingly every occasion, and forget to put them on with gloves. We sometimes had to turn them on via the touchscreen controls as they just didn’t respond to our touches/presses.
Another quirk is the placement of the Hill Descent Control. Again, this is a touch-sensitive area on the center console. Passengers accidentally brushed against this button several times during the test week, causing the accompanying beep and a giant message to appear in the dashboard when you least expect it. Maybe make this one a harder-to-press physical button, Jeep?
Another quirk related to distraction in the instrument cluster is the constant zooming in and out of the gauges. The cluster screen prioritizes a change in cruise control speed by making it appear large on the screen while minimizing the gauges behind the message. Moments later, the meters increase to their normal size again. If you switch between cruise control on/off or the set speed changes a bit often, it’s like seeing a boomerang go back and forth in the dashboard, and that’s distracting. Finally, for some reason, Jeep decided to make the green lights in the cluster to inform you that the headlights and fog lights are about five times bigger than in any other car. It’s just weird, and it feels like a waste of space.
Moving on from the cluster, the last problematic screen in this car is the rear view camera mirror. Unlike GM’s rear-view mirror, Jeep is particularly bad at dealing with bad weather or night driving. Rain, snow or salt make visibility worse than a traditional mirror, and the glare from headlights at night does the same. Other companies’ rear-view mirrors are set up to handle these situations much better than Jeep’s, as the Grand Wagoneer is only useful in ideal daytime weather conditions.
But back to the good. All the other screens are really nice to use, even the trick screen that folds in and out below the main infotainment screen. Placing the wireless charger behind this screen is a great way to completely hide a phone from distractions. And just like we found in the Grand Cherokee, the passenger special screen is the same distraction-free genius. The good tech vibes continue in the rear, where second row users have a screen between them on the fixed center console for vital car functions and screens on the back of the front seats for watching movies, TV or even playing video games. Yes, you could plug three game consoles into a Grand Wagoneer and throw a small party (the third console can be played from the front passenger screen).
As big as the Grand Wagoneer is, there’s no shortage of space to party. You can stretch out comfortably in both the second and third rows of seats. Seriously, the third row is way better than you imagine and we’re pretty sure it outperforms the Escalade/Tahoe and Navigator/Expedition in terms of both space and comfort (although it does take some solid back-to-back time to know for sure). It has power outlets and even nicely designed trim all the way back to make it less of a penalty area than any other full-size SUV. No matter where you sit in this behemoth of an SUV, it will be fun. Even with all rows up, there is plenty of room for your things.
There’s enough dampening throughout to completely silence the 6.4-litre V8 if you don’t want to hear it, but the engine and exhaust are aggressive enough that the solid sound envelops the cab when you floor it. The McIntosh sound system is unmatched in user experience, and come on, you get to brag about having a McIntosh sound system in your car.
In many ways, the Grand Wagoneer is the equal of Escalade and Navigator. It certainly doesn’t skimp on luxury or comfort – the massage chairs are best in class. You can’t say about the use of materials, space or lack of available technology. Although, the problem areas we mentioned could definitely use some cleaning up to make the whole car experience a little more seamless and easy to use. As a first attempt at luxury, the Jeep end product is quite remarkable, and the interior is well worth what it says on that sticker. As our editor-in-chief stated when he first drove a Grand Wagoneer, Jeep is officially a luxury vehicle manufacturer.