Pros

  • Cloud-like ride
  • Audi-like interior
  • Scenicruiser visibility

 Cons

  • Hellcat-thirsty for fuel
  • Overzealous stability control

If neither the Lincoln Navigator Black Label nor the Cadillac Escalade Platinum quite scratch your jumbo luxo-ute itch, then the new Grand Wagoneer from Jeep (on modified Ram underpinnings) is almost sure to please. It somehow manages to deliver quintessential American luxury in a fresh and authentic way.

Inside, the vibe is vaguely mid-century mod without plagiarizing Lincoln, while it trumps Cadillac’s curved OLED displays with up to 75 cumulative screen inches that all manage to present info worth viewing. Options include a passenger movie screen that remains invisible to the driver and a “relax mode” visible to all when parked, which can display things like a crackling fireplace.

MT staffers were mostly blown away by the wood trim with inlaid metal lettering, the thick leather with contrast stitching, and by the rich tones and deep bass emanating from the McIntosh 23-speaker reference audio system. “It’s peak Americana … more, more, more. There’s too much leather, too much wood, too many screens. It’s so wasteful, and yet, so wonderful. And spacious. Oh so spacious,” said senior editor Greg Fink. The third-row seat of this “short wheelbase” Grand Wagoneer matches the legroom of a Cadillac Escalade and EXT while surpassing their head, shoulder, and hiproom dimensions. The Lincoln Navigator measures larger for passenger space, but the blocky Wagoneer is the cargo champ, and we expect its long-wheelbase cousin to really earn the title bestowed by editorial-ops director Mike Floyd: “Lord Humongous, ruler of the monster SUV wasteland.”

Associate road test editor Erick Ayapana praised the 6.4-liter “monster of an engine” and smooth transmission, but we were all let down by Jeep’s overly aggressive stability control, which utterly chops all power at the merest hint of understeer, making it impossible to generate a meaningful lateral-g or figure-eight test result. And while the steering lacked feel, its light effort renders this jumbotron more maneuverable.

Judges also complained about the sun-reflective and hot piano-black trim that made it difficult to see the suspension-height and drive-mode selections. Guest judge and engineering expert Gordon Dickie noted some tire-slap and secondary chassis vibration on the simulated 110 freeway section as well as some shift-shock. Senior features editor Jonny Lieberman hated the tall, blocky side-view styling and buyer’s guide director Zach Gale fretted that one day “the kids of a Grand Wagoneer owner will question why mommy or daddy needed an SUV with 13/18 mpg” when there were more efficient luxury options.

No Grand Wagoneer earns a “Trail Rated” badge, though standard AWD or optional 4WD endows it with ample forest-road capability. We’re somewhat baffled by the decision not to include the “Jeep” wordmark anywhere on the vehicle. That name never dissuaded wealthy Wagoneer buyers in the ’80s and early ’90s, and this one is vastly better equipped to lure the landed gentry.

Most judges came away highly impressed with Jeep’s reincarnation of this storied brand, and optimistic for its chances of competing against the established Cadillac and Lincoln entries in this space but felt its low efficiency ranking hobbled its chances at earning the calipers.

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