After a 30-Year Hiatus, Jeep Remakes the Wagoneer

A storied nameplate attached to an all-new Jeep returns the off-road brand to the large and lux body-on-frame SUV segment it helped invent.

The 2022 Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer (left) return Jeep to a vehicle segment it helped invent. (Jeep)

You won’t have a hard time distinguishing the all-new 2022 Jeep Wagoneer from the old one . Automotive design and engineering have moved on dramatically in 30 years, even if the Wagoneer mission hasn’t: Take lots of people and lots of their stuff wherever they want. An easy way to sum up the three-decade shift is the old Wagoneer had wood (paneling) on the outside. For the new one, all the wood is on the inside.

The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer (above) will be distinguishable by exterior brightwork and a unique grille. (Jeep)

Judging by the views shared during its March 2021 virtual reveal, the interior of the Wagoneer should be a pleasant place to spend time. Jeep is touting Wagoneer interiors as some of the sweetest in autodom, full stop. If lots of soft leather and warm wood (plus your own virtual fireplace ) fits that bill, Jeep cabin designers might not be that far off. The interior color palettes are spot on and the word ‘sumptuous’ easily comes to mind.

The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer will feature aluminum doors/hood, and a composite liftgate. (Jeep)
While the original Grand Wagoneer famously featured extensive use of wood on its exterior, the new Grand Wagoneer only features American Walnut wood in the interior. (Jeep)
The 2022 Wagoneer chassis is composed of a high-strength steel frame with fully boxed side rails and double-sheer-welded frame cross members to improve stiffness. (Jeep)
The rear frame rails of the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer permitted the engineering team meet interior space and enter/egress targets. (Jeep)
The Wagoneer’s Quadra-Lift air suspension system features an external valve block and secondary air reservoir allowing for both axles to lower simultaneously. (Jeep)
The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer provides seating for 7 (above) or 8 passengers, with a second-row bench seat also available. (Jeep)
The design of the independent rear suspension and frame rails help create a flat load floor for the Wagoneer. (Jeep)
An available 10.25-inch passenger screen provides several functions including Co-Pilot (navigation, device management), entertainment (via HDMI inputs or for Rear Seat Entertainment control), and the ability to view the vehicle’s exterior cameras. (Jeep)
The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer is the first Amazon Fire TV for Auto application, which lets owners start watching something at home and continue watching the same program in the vehicle. (Jeep)
Two industry-exclusive audio systems from McIntosh are available for the 2022 Wagoneer, and include the ability to display the audio brand’s signature blue VU meters in the center console display. (Jeep)
Sweating interior details, the Wagoneer’s start button is surrounded by a knurl-patterned bezel, and on Grand Wagoneer models (above), it is wrapped in leather with a French accent stitch. (Jeep)

Of course, all of this is by design. Lacking a dedicated luxury brand within the Stellantis U.S. portfolio, Jeep is looking upmarket by positioning Wagoneers upscale, almost as a separate brand within a brand. A vetted dealer network and unique customer treatment will help differentiate the most luxurious off-roaders ever offered by the 4x4 marque.

One vehicle, two trims

The all-new, 3-row, 7- or 8-passenger, 5-door Jeep SUV will be available in one wheelbase in two trims: Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer. The Wagoneer will arrive with RWD but can be optioned with one of three AWD systems. Power comes from the eTorque mild-hybrid version of the 5.7-liter V8. The Grand Wagoneer trim is AWD only and powered by a 6.4-liter V-8. All Wagoneers will engage the same ZF-supplied 8-speed automatic transmission.

According to Jeep, the Wagoneer’s body-on-frame platform is “essentially all-new,” though it likely shares some provenance with the Ram 1500 platform, and it will be built alongside the previous-gen Ram Classic pickup at the Stellantis plant in Warren, Mich. The Wagoneer is launching with a single wheelbase/length (123/215 in.;3124/5461 mm), joining profit-heavy GM and Ford products in the large body-on-frame SUV segment unique to North America.

The Wagoneer slots between the wheelbase/length of the regular and long wheelbase Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV (121/212 in.;3073/5385 mm\134/227 in.;3404/5766 mm) and Ford Expedition/Expedition MAX (122.5/210 in.;3112/5334 mm\136/222 in.;3454/5639 mm). The boxy Wagoneer is claiming best-in-class overall passenger volume (179 ft2), cargo volume behind the third row and third-row head and leg room compared to its shorter-wheelbase competition. Jeep also is claiming best-in-class towing of up to 10,000 lb (4,536 kg), a key metric in the segment.

“What goes on behind the vehicle is actually what defines the limits of the towing. The driving dynamics of the vehicle, which is defined by a co-efficient of sway, is really what limits the capability of the vehicle,” explained Mike Uhlmeyer, chief engineer for the Wagoneer program. “The key change to the frame is that the Class-4 hitch is fully integrated into the frame. It goes through the box frame rails and it has four 360-degree welds.”

Multiple drivetrain options

The 2022 Wagoneer is the first Stellantis vehicle to feature the next-generation eTorque mild-hybrid system on the 5.7L V-8 (392 hp/404 lb-ft; 292 kW/548 Nm). The setup replaces the alternator with a belt-driven motor-generator unit (MGU), which is fed by a briefcase-sized 0.39 kWh, 48-volt, 12-cell, nickel-manganese-cobalt graphite battery pack mounted to the Wagoneer’s cabin floor. The system can inject 130 lb-ft (176 Nm) to the crankshaft, uses braking regeneration and smooths engine stop/start events. The standard Grand Wagoneer engine is the 6.4-liter V-8 (471 hp/455 lb-ft; 351 kW/617 Nm), which features cylinder deactivation and variable camshaft timing.

A mechanical limited-slip rear differential is standard and the Wagoneer features a taller final-drive ratio (3.21:1) compared to the Grand Wagoneer (3.92:1). There are three available 4x4 systems: Quadra-Trac I features a single-speed transfer case with a 40/60% F/R torque split; Quadra-Trac II uses a two-speed case and can route 100% of available torque to the wheel with the most traction; Quadra-Drive II adds an electronic limited-slip rear differential. The available Selec-Terrain system offers five driving modes (Auto; Sport; Rock; Snow; Sand/Mud) and the Wagoneer also provides hill-ascent/descent control.

Coil or air chassis

The Wagoneer’s chassis is composed of a high-strength steel frame with steel body panels excepting the hood/doors (aluminum) and liftgate (composite). The frame’s side rails are fully boxed and frame crossmembers are double sheer welded to the inside and outside of the frame for improved stiffness. “We have a unique and clever design in the rear of the frame where you notice very planar, straight frame rails,” Uhlmeyer noted. “This allowed us to achieve some important best-in-class vehicle occupant-package numbers, improve enter/egress and provide a flat load floor.”

The Wagoneer features a fully independent suspension, and up front is a new double-wishbone setup with composite-upper and aluminum-lower control arms. Rear suspension is a coil-sprung multi-link. The standard Wagoneer suspension features coil-over shocks with rear load-leveling capability. Optional on Wagoneer and standard on Grand Wagoneer is a Quadra-Lift air-suspension system that includes electronically controlled semi-active dampers. “This next generation of Quadra-Lift features a dual reservoir,” Uhlmeyer detailed, “which allows the vehicle to go from normal ride height to the entry/egress ride height in just under seven seconds, which is about a 50% improvement over the previous system.”

The air suspension has a lift span of 3.6 in. (9.1 cm) via five height settings. Normal mode provides 8.0 in. (20 cm) of ground clearance, with Off-road modes 1 and 2 each imparting an additional 1.0 in, (2.54 cm), for up to 10 in. (25.4 cm) of ground clearance. Park Mode lowers the vehicle 1.6 in. (4 cm) for easier ingress/egress, and Aero Mode lowers the vehicle 0.6 in (1.5 cm) – also the default for Sport driving mode. As Wagoneers approach 35 mph (56 kph) the standard active front air dam descends 3.5 in. (8.9 cm).

The new Wagoneer features standard 20-inch or optional 22-inch rims, and Jeep is claiming a 25° approach angle, 24° departure angle, 22° breakover angle, up to 24 in. (61 cm) of water-fording capability and a low-range crawl ratio of 48:1. An available all-terrain option features four steel skid plates to protect the front axle, transfer case, fuel tank and rear stabilizer bushing. Mopar plans to offer more than 75 factory-engineered parts and accessories for the Wagoneer lineup.

New e-architecture

The 2022 Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer feature a new electrical architecture that enables secure CAN (Controller Area Network) communications, permitting enhanced driver-assist features including night vision with pedestrian/animal detection, intersection collision assist, drowsy-driver detection, traffic-sign recognition and a ParkSense automated parking system. An SAE Level-2 assisted-driving feature (“Hands-free Active Driving Assist”) will become an available Wagoneer option in “late 2021.”

The Wagoneer’s interior features a bevy of screens, with Jeep claiming 75-in. (191 cm) of total display width across seven panels, 45 in. (114 cm) of that available up front. Wagoneers will feature the latest Uconnect 5 system (with 10.1- or 12-inch center displays) providing operating speeds that Jeep says are five times faster than Uconnect 4. The Android-based operating system will permit over-the-air (OTA) updates for evolving features and services.

An available full-color head-up display (HUD) can cue visuals for lane departure, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise, turn-by-turn navigation, current speed, current gear and speed limit. An available digital rearview mirror helps provide an unobstructed view, and an available rear seat monitoring camera projects a high-definition image of the entire cabin. The driver can zoom in on each seat location, and infrared lights surrounding the camera provide illumination in low-light conditions.

Jeep is collaborating with the classic American audio brand McIntosh for two industry-exclusive audio systems for Wagoneer. The MX950 setup features 19-speakers including a 10-inch subwoofer, powered by a 17-channel, 950-watt amplifier. Available only on the Grand Wagoneer, the MX1375 system employs 23 speakers (including a 12-inch sub), powered by a 24-channel, 1,375-watt amplifier and McIntosh’s patented 3D Adaptive Sound Processing. The audio system’s ornate controls replicate the traditional look and feel of McIntosh control knobs, and yes, McIntosh’s signature blue VU meters are available in the center display.

Wagoneer-specific experience

Jeep has formed a dedicated Wagoneer Client Services to help owners manage all this luxury through VIP helplines, and five years of scheduled maintenance, 24/7 concierge support and roadside assistance are provided with purchase. Vehicle OTA updates will include new customer features and remote diagnostics. The new Jeep SUV will be sold via “Wagoneer Certified Dealers” with dedicated showroom and new-vehicle delivery areas.

Dealer criteria will include earning a “Customer First” award from J.D. Power and offering remote showroom, test drive and delivery, as well as service pickup/delivery. The base RWD Wagoneer will start at $57,995, with Grand Wagoneer starting at $86,995. The top-spec Obsidian trim will start just under $100K, and a Grand Wagoneer can be optioned to around $111K. Jeep already is taking orders for the new SUVs through the concierge service, with first deliveries expected “in the second half of 2021.”