2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L: There’s a new full-size SUV king

Move aside Escalade and Navigator

Photo courtesy Jeep

BOZEMAN, Mont. — For years, the full-size luxury SUV market has been dominated by the Lincoln Navigator and the Cadillac Escalade.There were ebbs and flows as to which of those was better, but the black car of choice in Manhattan (the actual test of the luxury SUV) has been one of those two for years.But Jeep, which has been absent from this particular conflict, has joined with a vengeance with the new Wagoneer, a new family of full-size SUVs to compete with everything from the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon to the aforementioned Navi and Caddy.Confusingly, there are four different flavors of full-size Jeep SUV: Wagoneer, Grand WagoneerWagoneer L, and Grand Wagoneer L.You would think Wagoneer versus Grand Wagoneer would denote the Tahoe-sized vs. Suburban-sized SUV, but it does not. Instead, the Wagoneer is the Tahoe/Expedition mainstream spec, while the Grand Wagoneer is the Navi/Escalade luxury spec. Adding the L stretches the truck an additional 12 inches, dedicated mainly to storage behind the third row.And large is the operative word. These SUVs are massive, even when parked next to the competition. Climb in and you have a dominant seating position, spacious storage, and tech and luxury features for days.A fully-equipped Grand Wagoneer L has four enormous screens across the front cabin, a dash cluster for the driver, two touchscreens in the center stack for infotainment, climate, and vehicle controls, and a fourth touchscreen in passenger dash where they can watch streaming content via Amazon Fire TV as you drive along.That, combined with the two screens on the back seats, which can also stream Netflix or YouTube or whatever, makes the Grand Wagoneer the ultimate road trip SUV. Gorgeous wood trim, quilted leather, and beautiful stitching are everywhere you look, and it easily competes with Navigator and Escalade. The Tupelo Honey leather interior option is a sublime tan that was borrowed from corporate cousin Ferrari.A pair of new, next-generation 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 “Hurricane” engines power the big SUVs, a standard version making 420 horsepower in the Wagoneer and a high-output option making 510 horsepower that comes in the Grand Wagoneer. Having driven both, I can tell you that the high-output motor is entirely unnecessary. The standard engine, which makes 468 lb-ft of torque, turns the massive Wagoneer into a rocket ship, especially on the 50-to-70 (or 80 or 90) mph passing sprint.The Grand Wagoneer’s high-output engine makes 500 lb-ft of torque thanks to several tweaked components and a premium fuel-only requirement. The engines are a bit more efficient, speaking of fuel, but basically only on the highway.The big SUV handles far better than you’d expect, even on the hilly, twisty roads around Bozeman. There’s surprisingly little body roll, especially compared to an Expedition I was following down a backroad.Perhaps my favorite feature is the McIntosh stereo system, the first implementation in an automobile. It sounds tremendous, but first, you must get your music into it appropriately. I use Apple Music, which has a higher-quality lossless audio option — however, if you’re using Bluetooth (or wireless CarPlay), the quality is substantially reduced. To get the higher quality, you need to plug in your iPhone to USB.It makes a difference. I tested Taylor Swift’s “The 1” from the Folklore album, and the quality between Bluetooth and USB was immediately noticeable. The warmth of Taylor’s voice and the individual notes of the piano were easily distinguished with the lossless USB iPhone plugged in.I love listening to music on long road trips, and the Wagoneer makes any expedition effortlessly relaxing between the tunes and the massaging seats. You can also sling audio from any of the three screens playing Amazon Fire TV streaming apps to the stereo in the car, so your passenger can watch a Taylor Tomlinson comedy special on Netflix, and both of you can listen through the McIntosh stereo.Between the impressive audio, the buttery smooth turbocharged “Hurricane” engines, the cavernous and endless storage, the dominating and impressive exterior design (it really is massive), and the seating for 7 (or 8!), the Grand Wagoneer L is well up to the task of challenging Lincoln and Cadillac for full-size luxury SUV dominance.

About Jordan Golson 157 Articles
Jordan Golson is North State Journal's automotive reporter. He covers cars - both foreign and domestic - from around the globe.