In this specific case – a 2023 Series III L (for long wheelbase) – we’re talking on the level of an Imperial LeBaron with all of the toys, bells, and whistles.
Victory & Reseda review of the 2023 Grand Wagoneer L
Short of something in the automotive stratosphere – a supercar, bespoke flagship, or something well over $150,000 – this is the largest, most luxurious, and most expensive non-pickup truck available at your nearest Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (and, sometimes, Fiat) dealership.
Is that such a bad thing? Do I have to break down the travails of the North American automotive industry through the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The Grand Wagoneer – which is also called a Jeep, but Stellantis would rather you simply call it the “Grand Wagoneer by Jeep” – is the company’s equivalent of the Imperial of years before. Yes, I made that correlation before when I reviewed the 2022 Grand Wagoneer a couple of years back. In this specific case – a 2023 Series III L (for long wheelbase) – we’re talking on the level of an Imperial LeBaron with all of the toys, bells, and whistles.
The reason for revisiting the Grand Wagoneer is not to see how Stellantis created a long wheelbase version of their large SUV. Or, to see how it stacked up against a Cadillac Escalade ESV Premium Luxury Platinum or Lincoln Navigator L Black label.
For 2023, Stellantis introduced a new engine – a twin-turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine called the Hurricane. You know that Stellantis loves giving their powerplants names that are memorable. The Hurricane name has a history within Jeep, as it was first an F-head four-cylinder engine introduced by Willys-Overland in 1952. This engine continued to power Jeep models until 1971.
This new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged, twin-overhead camshaft, in-line six-cylinder engine has nothing to do with that old Hurricane engine, except in name only. However, this name seems more apt this time around. Stellantis rates this motor at 510 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. This clearly eclipses the standard 6.4-liter HEMI V8’s own power numbers.
There are many benefits the Hurricane has over the HEMI V8. One to address the less-than-livable fuel economy yielded by the V8. The Hurricane is rated for 16 MPG in the city, 23 MPG on the highway – 2 or more MPG better than the HEMI.
The Hurricane also has a strong towing capacity. It can pull a maximum of 9,800 pounds. In the case of the long wheelbase model, the maximum towing capacity drops to 9,450 pounds. The HEMI tops the Hurricane in this category by an additional 100 pounds. Some consumers might call this a wash.
In essence, this 2023 Grand Wagoneer L is a test bed for this new engine. It is to demonstrate that the Hurricane can replace the venerable old HEMI V8 by being efficient, while matching capability levels.
In this long wheelbase model, the wheelbase is stretched by seven inches. Another eight inches is added to the L’s overall length. Cargo capacity behind the third row has increased from 28.4 cubic feet to 44.2 cubic feet. Overall, there is 112.9 cubic feet of cargo space to load up. There is 173 cubic feet of passenger space to fit seven passengers inside the Grand Wagoneer L.
These are just the nuts and bolts of this new variant of the Grand Wagoneer. What attracts someone to this large SUV is the level of luxury it promises its occupants.
It all starts with the exterior. It’s not the size that will attract potential owners. It’s the details. The fully chromed grille integrates the seven-slot grille that is Jeep’s signature. However, if you look closely at the badging, you will notice an additional bronze/gold trim layer to go along with the silver finish. The flag badges are in bronze/gold. Bronze or gold means luxury, right?
This 2023 Series III tester wears an intriguing hue called River Rock. It looks like a mix of blue, green, black, and gray. I will admit it’s a lovely color. Complimenting the entire exterior is a set of 22-inch two-tone alloy wheels. Believe it or not, they really do not look that big on this Grand Wagoneer. The 285/45R22XL Pirelli Scorpion tires have a sizeable sidewall that offsets the large wheel size.
The real luxury is inside the cabin. They call this leather upholstery color Tupelo. It is more of a lighter shade of Saddle. Nonetheless, it is a sumptuous color that is contrasted with black carpeting and grated aluminum finishes. In all, you are surround by an elevated experience that informs the Grand Wagoneer Series III’s intentions.
The driver gets a fully digital instrument cluster screen that is customizable in many ways. You have access to a multitude of readouts, which enables you to try to find the right screen to view from your seat. The front passengers also get a screen that will give them less information to view – even though some of it will draw from the infotainment system.
There are plenty of controls that are superb to the touch. The large transmission knob has a knurled surface that feels bespoke. You do not get another knob for the transfer case. Only a button to enable the low ratio in four-wheel drive. There are selectors for ride height and the Selec-Terrain Traction Management System on each side of the transmission knob. Every other control is well thought out and logical to use.
One of the main attractions of the Grand Wagoneer L is its McIntosh Laboratory MX1375 Reference Entertainment System. Driven by the 12-inch UConnect 5 touchscreen infotainment hub, audio playback is transmitted through 23 speakers throughout its massive cabin. While playing back music files through a wireless Apple CarPlay connection, the sound is clean and beautiful at its highest frequency.
There are three rows of seats with a maximum capacity of seven. Front seats can be adjusted 20 ways, mostly from the door controls. You can also adjust the bolsters from the infotainment screen, among other adjustments. The second-row captain’s chairs are divided by a huge console with its own small interactive screen. That, along with a 10.1-inch screen for each seat for the Rear Seat Entertainment system. If you have Amazon Fire, you can bring along their favorite television shows and movies along for the ride. Access to the third row is done through a power tilt and slide mechanism. And yes, you get true adult space in the third row.
For a long-wheelbase large SUV, the driving experience was pretty good overall. Power from the Hurricane engine was solid, but not exactly a barn burner. It does well getting on the highway and changing lanes. Shifts from and its eight-speed automatic transmission were smooth overall. We tried the Grand Wagoneer in Snow mode, where it managed icy roads competently by applying the right grip to Selec-Terrain system’s switch to another mode for more assistance.
If you must ask about fuel economy, I averaged 14.3 MPG. That's a real world average while surviving several days of sub-freezing temperatures.
Ride quality from the Quadra-Lift Air Suspension felt smooth overall. The dampers did their best to absorb the sunken manholes and newly formed cracks on the roadway, but it did not ruin the driving experience. There was no pitching experienced when the roads got a little “lumpy.” In the corners, the Grand Wagoneer felt stable with minimal roll. It will do evasive maneuvers very completely, but one must consider its size if things get a little tight sometimes.
The steering radius was actually quite decent for a vehicle in its size. Tight maneuvers were achievable, but the turning itself is quite easy. On-center feel was also solid, as well. Braking was solid, coming from a good pedal feel and response to the wheels. Stops felt good in normal, panic, and winter situations.
At this point, you probably want to sit down. The sticker price for this 2023 Grand Wagoneer Series III tester came to $123,045. You read that exactly right.
The 2023 Grand Wagoneer lineup started at $91,190 and was available in five trim levels for each of the standard and long wheelbase models. The 2024 Grand Wagoneer received a price increase to $92,540 and is now available in four trim levels for each wheelbase version.
At $123,045, does the 2023 Grand Wagoneer L “rock you like a Hurricane?” Well…it depends on how you perceive this large long-wheelbase SUV and your intended use for it.
The Hurricane engine certainly has a future at Stellantis. It will power the 2025 Ram 1500 pickup truck, replacing the HEMI V8 on most applications. There are rumors that it will appear on some next-generation large cars, such as a STNA-Large-based Dodge. It might need some massaging to get it where we can trust it for the tougher jobs we will put it through.
The Grand Wagoneer L itself offers a proper argument against the Cadillac Escalade ESV and the Lincoln Navigator L. You can also throw in the GMC Yukon XL Denali, Chevrolet Suburban High Country, and Ford Expedition Platinum MAX into the mix. Considering the luxury a Series III offers and the usability of the truck-based luxury Jeep’s cabin, it does give General Motors and Ford a run for the money – even if that money is over $120,000.
That last point is something that has been in the back of my mind. That sticker price is quite daunting, but I look at it as a byproduct of the marketplace the Grand Wagoneer competes in. That, and the intention and high stakes this vehicle has been positioned for its customers.
The Grand Wagoneer is a wonderful luxury long-wheelbase large SUV. If you can afford one, then – with all apologies to Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and the Scorpions – you can rock it like a Hurricane…albeit smoothly along the highway.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle was provided by Stellantis North America
All photos by Randy Stern