2022 Jeep Wagoneer Review – Rolling Confusion

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
Fast Facts

2022 Jeep Wagoneer Series II 4x4 Fast Facts

5.7-liter V8 with belt-starter/generator (392 horsepower @ 5,600 RPM, 404 lb-ft @ 3,950 RPM)
Transmission/Drive Wheels
Eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, U.S.
15 city / 20 highway / 17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
Fuel Economy, Canada
15.6 city / 11.7 highway / 13.8 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
Base Price
$71,845 (U.S.) / $81,495 (Canada)
As-Tested Price
$82,820 (U.S.) / $94,470 (Canada)
Prices include $2,000 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 to $2,695 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
2022 jeep wagoneer review rolling confusion

The consensus, at least among us shrimp-sucking keyboard warriors who get paid to review cars, is that the Jeep Wagoneer is a bit of a flop, mostly due to an oddly-proportioned exterior design.

Sure, the overfed journo writes between bites of shellfish, the Wagoneer has a nice interior, an excellent stereo, and an unobjectionable, if unremarkable powertrain. But its looks frighten small dogs.

I’ve gone a bit easier on the Wagoneer and its Grand Wagoneer sibling so far, in part because, while I don’t think this vehicle is a looker, I don’t find it to be quite as ugly, at least not in terms of overall package, as others do. It’s not until I drill down into some details – and think about the various bits of wisdom I’ve heard from talking to actual car designers over the years, that I start to realize that Jeep missed the mark with styling. A relative rarity from a Stellantis brand, at least lately.

While not all Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep/Ram/Alfa products have been attractive over the past decade or so – may I remind you of the Journey? – I’ve also found myself saying, when it comes to certain vehicles under the former FCA/now Stellantis umbrella “well, at least it LOOKS good.”

I may not think the Wagoneer is ugly enough to banish from my neighborhood, but I won’t say it looks good, either.

This is a bummer, since the interior truly is nice, the audio does indeed rock, and the Jeep’s powertrain is nice and smooth, as to be expected at this price point.

The Wagoneer looks just fine to me from the front. The standard seven-slot grille is familiar and attractive. The hood seems proportioned just right. You start to think the Wagoneer might just be styled as a Grand Cherokee, but longer, and that gives you hope.

Then you make your way aft.

It’s the oddly proportioned – there’s that word again – rear overhang that ruins the look. Or, at least, it does for me. I had a recent conversation with two colleagues about the looks of the full-size, three-row American luxury SUVs and one pointed out that Chevy’s Suburban looks better to his eye due to swoopy styling bits that give the illusion of motion. Fair enough, and while I quibble with many of Chevy’s recent design choices, the Suburban isn’t unattractive.

What irks me about this Jeep land barge is the proportions (I may have to start fining myself $5 per use of the “p” word if I don’t find a thesaurus soon). I can handle slab-sided styling. Boxy may be bland but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

But then again – that rear overhang. Woof.

You don’t have to see any of this from the inside, however. And the cabin is pretty nice. Some of the materials disappoint for the price, but the styling looks good, and form mostly follows function – controls are generally easy to use. It’s not perfect – the infotainment screen isn’t well integrated and the two-spoke steering wheel looks a little too old-school – but I generally liked it. Even the rotary-dial shifter is pretty easy to use once you get used to it.

These luxo-barge SUVs are about more than style, of course. Buyers in this class are seeking a silky-smooth V8 with torque and a buttery velvet ride. The Wagoneer generally delivers on the latter – despite Jeep’s propensity for off-road tuning. The Wagoneer is as smooth-riding as anything else in this class.

The Wagoneer comes standard with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that has a mild-hybrid setup. The belt/generator has 12 kW of power and 130 lb-ft of launch torque. Total system power is 392 horsepower and 404 lb-ft of torque, and the transmission that gets the power to the wheels is an eight-speed automatic.

Wagoneer ain’t light, and the acceleration reflects that. The Hemi is smooth, sure, and it pulls fairly well, but you won’t be dusting too many folks at the stoplight drag races. You can, with a heavy-enough foot, get enough power for passing and merging, though. Towing capacity is 10,000 pounds.

Handling – well, it exists. And it’s about as good as something this large can be. Which is to say, not great but at least acceptable for suburbia. It’s on par with the last Suburban I drove.

Size and luxury aren’t cheap – this Wagoneer is based at $71,845. Diamond Black Crystal Pearl Coat paint added $595, and a Convenience Package (second-row manual window shades, head-up display, 360-degree camera, drowsy-driver detection, parallel and perpendicular park assist with stop, intersection collision-assist system, traffic-sign recognition, automatic high beams, and heated second-row seats) added $3,295.

The Heavy Duty Trailer-Tow package (trailer-brake control, trailer hitch line-up assist, trailer-hitch zoom, heavy-duty engine cooling) added another $795. Finally, a $2,295 Advanced All-Terrain Group added 18-inch wheels, all-terrain tires, two-speed transfer case, 3.92 rear-axle ratio, chrome tow hooks, electronic rear limited-slip differential, front-axle skidplate, gas tank skidplate, air suspension, removable rear tow hook, Selec-Speed control (allows the driver to control speed on hill descents via the steering wheel), and a skidplate for the transfer case.

Add in another two grand for destination and you have an $82,820 update on the ‘ole Family Truckster.

This is purely anecdotal, but it seems most of the Wagoneer hate I’ve heard centers around the exterior. That makes sense – the cabin is fine and the driving experience is about what you’d expect from such a beast.

All of this leaves me confused as a car reviewer. My job is to be honest – even if it means being harsh – and to give my opinions, regardless of whether they match the consensus or not. Furthermore, I try to be nuanced and not give in to simplistic takes such as “it sucks!” or “it’s great!” I’m paid to be more thoughtful than that.

And the Wagoneer’s existence taxes me a bit. Style-wise, it’s a swing and a miss. I have eyes, and while styling is subjective, I agree with the overall consensus view, although I am a bit less hard on the rig than most. But the cabin is generally good and the Wagoneer isn’t so offensive from behind the wheel.

It’s easy to hate a vehicle. And there are some vehicles on the market that deserve all the haterade they get. The Wagoneer is a more nuanced case. Jeep’s design team needs to get to work on a styling refresh, stat. But the rest of the package is pretty good.

Problem is, “pretty good” might not be good enough to overcome its styling deficiencies. Or to help Jeep compete with stalwarts like the Suburban.

Jeep hasn’t missed often recently. But they have fallen a bit short here.

What’s New for 2022

The 2022 Jeep Wagoneer is a new three-row large SUV from Jeep.

Who Should Buy It

Jeep fans seeking a large SUV, those who like the ugly duckling.

[Images © 2022 Tim Healey/TTAC, Jeep]

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2 of 28 comments
  • MMaier - Audi S4 MMaier - Audi S4 on Sep 22, 2022

    I think the styling problem is that is looks like a SUV trying to morph to a minivan and it got stuck midway (or vice-versa).

    SUV's and off road vehicles normally have the bottom edge of the body above the wheel hubs - this appears to have that line at the hubs, and the plastic cladding below it makes it worse.

  • Allamericanred Allamericanred on Sep 25, 2022

    Interesting that as a car design nut that hates most American Suv designs that I think it is a pretty good design that stands apart but is not odd. The color really impacts how it looks to me. Some just do not work

  • Dukeisduke I still think the name Bzzzzzzzzzzt! would have been better.
  • Dukeisduke I subscribed to both Road & Track and Car and Driver for over 25 years, but it's been close to 20 years since I dropped both. I tried their digital versions with their reader software (can't remember the name now), but it wasn't the same. I let it lapse after a year.From what I've seen of R&T's print version, it's turned into more of a lifestyle thing like The Robb Report. I haven't seen an issue of C/D in a while.I enjoyed both magazines a lot when I was subscribing. R&T for the road tests (especially the April Fools road tests), used car reviews, historical articles, and columns like Peter Egan's Side Glances and Dennis Simanitis's Technical Correspondence. And C/D for the road tests and pithy commentary, and columns like Gordon Baxter's, and Jean Shepherd's (that goes way back to the early '70s).
  • Steve Biro It takes very clever or amusing content for me to sit through a video vehicle review. And most do not include that.Tim, you wrote :"Niche titles aren't dying because of a lack of interest from enthusiasts, but because of broader changes in the economics of media, at least in this author's opinion."You're right about the broader changes in economics. But the truth is that there IS a lack of interest from enthusiasts. Part of it is demographics. Young people coming up are generally not car and truck fans. That doesn't mean there are no young enthusiasts but the numbers are much smaller. And even those who consider themselves enthusiasts seem to have mixed feelings. Just take a look at Jalopnik.And then we come to the real problem: The vast majority of new vehicles coming out today are not interesting to enthusiasts, are not fun to drive and/or are just not affordable.You can argue that EVs are technically interesting and should create enthusiasm. But the truth is they are not fun to drive, don't work well enough yet for most people and are very expensive.EVs on the race track? Have you ever been to a Formula E race? Please.And even if we set EVs aside, the electronic nannies that are being forced on us pretty much preclude a satisfying driving experience in any brand-new vehicle, regardless of propulsion system. Sure, many consumers who view cars as transportation appliances may welcome this technology. But they are not enthusiasts. I don't know about you, but I and most car fans I know don't want smart phones on wheels.There is simply not that much of interest to write about. Car and Driver and Road & Track are dipping deeper into nostalgia and their archives as a result. R&T is big on sponsoring road trips for enthusiasts - which is a great idea. But only people with money to burn need apply.And then there is the problem of quality in automotive writing. As more experienced people are let go and more money is cut from publications, the quality and length of pieces keeps going down, leading to the inevitable self-fulfilling prophecy.Even the output on this site is sharply reduced from its peak. And the number of responses to posts seems a small fraction of what it used to be. This is my first comment since the site was recently relaunched. I don't expect to be making many in the future.Frankly Tim - and it gives me no pleasure to write this - but your post makes me feel as though the people running this site have run out of ideas and TTAC's days may be numbered.Cutbacks in automotive journalism are upsetting. But, until there is something exciting and fun to write about, they are going to continue. Perhaps automotive enthusiasm really was a 20th century phenomenon..
  • THX1136 I think that the good ole interwebs is at least partially to blame. When folks can get content for free, what is the motivation to pay to read? I'm guilty of this big time. Gotta pay to read!? Forget it! I'll go somewhere else or do without. And since a majority of folks have that portable PC disguised as a phone in their pocket, no need for print. The amount of info easily available is the other factor the web brings to bear. It's perhaps harder now to stand out. Standing out is necessary to continued success.In an industry I've been interested (and participated) in, the one magazine (Mix) I subscribed to has become a shadow of it's former self (200 pgs now down to 75). I like print for the reasons mentioned by another earlier. I can 'access' it in a non-linear fashion and it's easily portable for me. (Don't own a smarty pants phone and don't plan to at the moment.)I would agree with others: useful comparison reviews, unique content not easily available other places, occasional ringers (Baruth, Sajeev, et al) - it would be attractive to me anyway. I enjoy Corey, Matt and Murilee and hope they continue to contribute here.
  • Daniel J I wish auto journos would do more comparisons. They do some but many are just from notes from a previous review compared to a new review. I see where journos go out to a location and test drive and review a vehicle on location but that does absolutely nothing for me without any comparison to similar cars. I also wish more journos spent more time on seat comfort. I guess that doesn't matter much when many journos seem to be smaller folks where comfort isn't as important. Ergonomics are usually just glossed over unless there is something very specific about the ergonomics that tick the journo off. I honestly get more from most youtube reviews than I ever do about reviews written on a page.