It's not easy making a huge SUV a runway model. They tend to be big lumbering beasts. And taking a premium three-row full-size SUV and stretching it to create a long-wheelbase version only makes the job harder. But it can be done. Exhibit A: the 2023 Jeep Wagoneer L and its upper crust twin: the 2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L.
These new seven-to-eight-passenger behemoths, on display for the first time at the New York auto show, are more than a foot longer than the short-wheelbase Wagoneer family, with a wheelbase that has been extended by seven inches. The difference is similar to that between Chevy's Tahoe and the longer Suburban, while the "L" in their names picks up on the notation Jeep applies to the smaller two-row Grand Cherokee's longer three-row sibling (the Grand Cherokee L).
The front and rear views are unchanged, but take in the silhouette to appreciate the difference the extra length makes. The elegance designers talked about when the Wagoneer sub-brand debuted last year after a 30-year hiatus comes into sharper focus now. Extending that rear window does wonders for the proportions of a vehicle that is now 226.7 inches long, up from 219.7 inches.
The U-shaped windows and emphasis on a large greenhouse—accented by the black roof and pillars—are much better appreciated on the longer wheelbase. And the rear doors have a straight cut to them; moving the rear wheels back seven inches means the wheel well no longer bites into the shape of the door. It reminds us of the Chrysler 300 wagon that outshone the sedan with its elongated body panels.
Not surprisingly, the long-wheelbase SUVs are the same from the C-pillar forward. Physical changes were made to the rear doors and back of the vehicle, although the liftgate is unchanged. The extra length goes to the increased passenger space and much more cargo space behind the third row, giving the Jeep some best-in-class dimensions. Even 22-inch wheels don't look oversized here.
The other big news: the all-new Hurricane Twin Turbo I-6 engines make their debut in the 2023 Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L. Yes, in the runup to electric vehicles, Stellantis knew it needed one more new engine family during the transition when, let's face it, combustion engines will still power a lot of vehicles over the next decade and the automaker's aging powertrain lineup needs to remain competitive.
Under the Stellantis Dare Forward 2030 plan, 50 percent of new vehicles sold in North America will be electric in 2030—which means 50 percent still have an ICE. But, in a nod to the inevitable electrified future, the Hurricane engine was designed to be coupled with any hybrid, including a plug-in hybrid. Starting from scratch allowed powertrain engineers to pack more performance and efficiency into a smaller engine. The standard Hurricane engine is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged I-6 with an output of 420-horsepower and 468 lb-ft of torque. It will be the standard engine on the 2023 Jeep Wagoneer.
The high-output Hurricane engine is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged I-6 with an output of 510 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. The 510, as the high-output engine is known, is standard on the stretched 2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L. Both Hurricane engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
There are no plans to offer an optional V-8 given that the new I-6 performs better by all metrics than Jeep's top-end 471-hp, 455-lb-ft 6.4-liter Hemi V-8. With the Hurricane engine, fuel economy improves by 15 percent over the 5.7-liter V-8 and is 13 percent better than the 6.4-liter V-8, we are told.
While the Hurricane engine debuts on the stretched Wagoneer family, Jeep is offering the Hurricane as an option on a limited number of the conventional-sized 2022 Jeeps, too. The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer which has the 6.4-liter V-8 as its standard engine will offer the Hurricane 510 as an option. Eventually, the short-wheelbase 2022 Wagoneer with the 5.7-liter V-8 base engine will get the Hurricane 410 as an option.
To ensure a dynamic ride with the 130.0-inch long-wheelbase and an extra 200 pounds, engineers retuned the suspension which continues to be an independent rear with a four-corner air suspension standard on Grand Wagoneer L and an option on Wagoneer L. Like the short-wheelbase Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer family, there are three four-wheel-drive settings.
The steering wheel ratio was also changed to ensure an on-center feel. Towing performance is 9,450-10,000 pounds.And the big boys get a larger fuel tank. The extra four gallons of capacity, and the new more-efficient gas engines, allow the Jeeps to go another 30-70 miles between fill-ups.
Jeep showed us a 2023 Wagoneer L in the new Carbide trim, which is the blacked-out equivalent of the Obsidian trim on the Grand Wagoneer. We saw a preview of a 2023 Wagoneer L Carbide in Baltic gray with a glossy black face and wheels, tri-pane sunroof, and a black roof rack. Inside are some new trim materials, a black headliner, and smoke accent stitching on the black seats, doors, and instrument panel. The Carbide package will be offered on the 2023 Wagoneer and Wagoneer L in the second half of the year but will also be made available on the 2022 short-wheelbase Wagoneer this spring.
Inside the stretched Jeeps, there are few changes up front. There is the same 75 inches of available screen area inside the Grand Wagoneer L, including a 10.3-inch co-pilot screen for the front passenger that floats above the butcher-block-inspired wood panel. For an edgier look, opt for the metal package that replaces the wood. At each end of the dash "Established 1963" is etched into the metal.
Another Easter egg at the end of the instrument panel: the small "Level 0" badge, which is a tribute to the late Sergio Marchionne who was CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles during the development of the Wagoneer family, and to Mike Manley, the Jeep chief who took over as CEO when Marchionne died in 2018.
Both were champions of the Wagoneer program for the many years it was on a to-do list. "Level O" refers to the CEO which is the top of the organization chart. "It's my personal thank you to them," says Head of Interior Design Chris Benjamin. Another nod to Marchionne: the McIntosh premium audio system. Marchionne was an audiophile who used his personal playlists as the music leading up to the start of events such as earnings calls or press conferences.
The passenger space is enormous in all three rows. Benjamin, at 6-foot, 4 inches, can fit behind himself in all rows without his knees touching anything—there are 42.7 inches of legroom in the second row and 36.6 inches in the third row. It makes for easy access to the third row and designers added new storage cubbies on each side that can hold a small tablet. The third row also has reclining seats with nice lower-back support and wide armrests for kids who tend to flop around in their seats. The air vents blow air from the sides of the vehicle below the beltline instead of raining down on top of your head. All rows have A and C USB outlets.
The seven available screens use the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system which runs Android and offers five times more power. Uconnect allows you to do everything on a screen but also has physical controls for all main functions. The Jeeps come with hands-free Alexa voice assistant connected to a home system, so you can ask how full the gas tank is from your living room or set the temperature at home from your car. Use relax modes to turn the screen into a seascape, the Aurora Borealis, or a crackling fire. Fire TV is available for rear passengers.
The big difference is the cargo room behind the third row which grew by 50 percent, from 28.4 cubic feet to 44.2 cubic feet. There is 88.8 cubic feet behind the second row. There are six tie-down loops in the cargo area and the Grand Wagoneer L has the Cargo Management Rail System on the flat-load floor to keep items from sliding around. A tonneau cover is optional. Loading is made easier with a lower lift-over height than others in the segment. Power-folding seats are standard on Grand Wagoneer L.
The stretched Jeeps will come out later this year. Pricing has not been announced.
The large SUV segment in the U.S. skews one-third long-wheelbase, two-thirds short-wheelbase, and Jeep executives expect the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer family to follow that trend set by competitors such as the aforementioned Chevy Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, and Ford Expedition/Expedition Max. The original Wagoneer was the vehicle of choice for family road trips and with the addition of the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L, that tradition can continue in style.