Last year’s 2022 Grand Wagoneer was one of my first reviews of the calendar year, and it left me feeling conflicted. Controversial styling aside, I liked elements of the all-new SUV but something about it just didn’t feel right. I’ve sat with these feelings for an entire year (as they live healthily rent-free in my head) and recently revisited them over a week in a revised 2023 Grand Wagoneer L.
My biggest complaint about last year’s not-Jeep Grand Wagoneer was its engine. Solely offered with the 6.4-liter V8 from the Ram 2500 pickup, the engine made plenty of power and torque but felt too rowdy for a six-figure luxury vehicle. Yes, it made great noises on cold start or at full throttle, but nothing else about the Grand Wagoneer screams “shenanigans.” I found myself really longing for the EcoBoost V6 found in Lincoln’s Navigator more than anything.
There’s a new engine on the scene for 2023, though. Stellantis – parent company of Jeep, Ram, Chrysler, and Dodge – has created a new 3.0-liter twin turbo inline six that’s offered in two power outputs. Almost every Grand Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer L get the Hurricane High Output I6, which produces 510 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. Power flows through the same eight-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive as last year’s model. The most basic short-wheelbase Grand Wagoneers still come with the old 6.4 as standard.
And yes, I said “short wheelbase.” Also new for 2023, the Grand Wagoneer debuts its “L” model. Grand Wagoneer Ls bring another seven inches of wheelbase and another foot of overall length to the party, bringing the big SUV within spitting distance of the old Ford Excursion in length at 226.7 inches overall.
My tester was a 2023 Grand Wagoneer L Series II, one step down from “fully loaded” but still very nicely equipped in its own right. Notable options included the $4,000 Premium Group that added ventilated rear seats and a 23-speaker McIntosh sound system, a $2,200 Rear Seat Entertainment package adding more screens (ugh) and $995 of Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow gear. MSRP came to $107,725.
Towing With the 2023 Grand Wagoneer L and Hurricane Inline Six
As with last year’s model, I hooked up my enclosed trailer to see how well the longer wheelbase and silky Hurricane I6 would do moving about 7,000 pounds down the interstate. The Grand Wagoneer L is rated to tow 9,450 pounds – if you need to get more tow capacity from the same(ish) vehicle, look at a regular Wagoneer L. Those will pull 9,850 pounds in 4WD trim or 10,000 in 2WD.
Immediately, I ran into the same issue as last year. The Grand Wagoneer L wouldn’t run my trailer’s running lights. Brake lights, turn signals, and reverse lights all worked, but I always tow with my headlights on for extra visibility. Last year, I managed to make them work by running the trailer wiring through an external brake controller. This year, nothing would convince the Grand Wagoneer L to turn on the running lights. This is the only SUV or truck I’ve had an issue with – ever – with this trailer, and it’s a simple incandescent lighting setup on a 15-year-old trailer, which should pose no issues for anything. I’ve got a message in to Stellantis to ask about the problem.
Once I established that I did have all the lights that legally mattered, I did set off for a four-hour round-trip tow. As a tow vehicle, I found the 2023 Grand Wagoneer to be not quite there despite being a supremely comfortable place to spend those four hours.
Acceleration is, predictably, no problem given the Hurricane six’s power and torque output. On a nit-pick level, I wish peak torque came in a little earlier. Lincoln’s torque peaks 500 rpm sooner, at 3,000 rpm, and contributes to that “effortless” feeling down an on-ramp with a trailer in tow. Either way, though, the Grand Wagoneer L gets up to speed with ease and sounds very good doing so. Shifts are clicked off appropriately in Tow/Haul mode as you run up the gears.
Maintaining speed was where my biggest frustration revealed itself. Jeep is relying a lot on the two turbochargers, even in Tow/Haul mode, to maintain speed up grades. The transmission, so lovely in most scenarios, would not downshift until I really dug in to the throttle and forced it to drop a few gears. You can control shifts manually, but Lincoln and Cadillac have better logic here. Similarly, downshifts under braking don’t come early or often enough to really provide much engine braking assistance.
Otherwise, though, the Grand Wagoneer L was a good tow vehicle. The extra wheelbase (now totaling 130″) ensured total stability on a very windy Saturday and the four-corner air suspension and adjustable dampers provided generally excellent ride quality and body control. Visibility was good, with a low-enough dash and fine sightlines.
Unloaded Driving in the 2023 Grand Wagoneer L
Take the trailer off the Grand Wagoneer L’s hitch and the big chrome-lined bus absolutely scoots when you bury your right foot. Yes, there is a “Sport” drive mode and yes, it seems hilarious on the surface but keeps the revs up to where you’re always in the powerband. In the default drive mode, the Hurricane engine again pairs very well to the overall vibe of the Grand Wagoneer L, making hushed and effortless power to whisk you and five or six others around.
I did indeed call this thing a bus. It feels like it. “Excursion-sized” is becoming the new normal for this class of SUV, with Cadillac’s Escalade ESV right there in overall length. Lincoln’s Navigator L is the “shorty” with six inches less to manage. On the plus side, Jeep has managed a third row seat that can fit six-footers in pretty decent comfort. And the extra overall length means you can pack six people and their luggage into the Grand Wagoneer L for a weekend trip.
Comfort is the goal here and every row of seats has plenty on offer. The first row is heated and ventilated with massagers, the second row loses the massaging option, and the third row is only heated. Everybody gets plenty of leg- and headroom. Second row passengers in my tester could indeed occupy themselves with the two FireTV screens stuck to the front seats or the climate control screen between their captains’ chairs. The optional McIntosh sound system is phenomenal and worth the upcharge, if you consider yourself an audiophile.
Jeep is pushing the idea of “tons of screens” and while it’s an industry-wide problem, they do offer up to 75 inches of screen if you so desire. There’s a gauge cluster screen, the main UConnect screen, a screen for front row seat and climate control, an optional screen for the front passenger, two optional screens for the second row, and that second-row climate control screen. It’s overwhelming, can make for a bright and distracting cabin at night, and I truly don’t understand what most of these screens bring to the table other than an idea that more pixels is better.
Again, not just a Grand Wagoneer thing, but something I noticed during my time with the big SUV.
And if this all sounds great to you but the extra wheelbase and length aren’t needed, the same Hurricane High Output engine is also found in the regular-length 2023 Grand Wagoneer.
I’m no longer conflicted about the Grand Wagoneer. The 2023 Grand Wagoneer L feels far more cohesive and is absolutely a better overall package than last year’s model thanks entirely to the new engine up front. The vehicle’s attitude and presence now matches its price tag, and it tows a bit better thanks to the boost on tap.
My towing-related complaints all seem to be fixable in software, though I would recommend test-driving a Grand Wagoneer straight to wherever you keep your trailer to test the lighting before you actually buy the vehicle. Exterior styling remains divisive, but the engine is very good and the interior – screens aside – is a genuinely fantastic place to spend a lot of time and miles.