Wagoneer Sixty Years of Awesomeness

Have you checked out the Queer4Cars YouTube Channel? We have two point of view review videos up on this Wagoneer.

Red 2022 Wagoneer parked in front of split rail fence
The 2022 Wagoneer from Stellantis is big, really big.

What model name was as much a leader in 1963 as it is in 2022? Answer: Wagoneer. While back then it was a model within the Jeep brand, today it stands separate, though not alone by a long shot. It has the international automotive corporate giant Stellantis behind it. You can still find classic Waggoneers from specialty restoration operations, though if you want brand new ones, you will need to visit a Jeep dealer. Both new and old are as exciting as they always have been. Though not always the easiest to find. Going on the Jeep Website, you will have to do some hunting around to find the Wagoneer, as it is not listed as a Jeep model, it is separate just like the 4XE.

Growing up my mom drove a 1966 Wagoneer. I remember one of my peers asking me, “Just why does your mother drive a truck?”  It was simple back then, as it would be today, she wanted a go-anywhere vehicle that could haul people and stuff.

For those of you who know me personally, know that I learned to drive on that First Generation SJ Jeep Wagoneer. Though I needed a wooden soda bottle case behind me in the seat to reach the pedals, that way I could depress the clutch that way. Yep, I learned to drive on a manual! And took my driver’s test on a 1973 Jeep Commando, so there is Jeep in my blood.

There was always a question back in those mid-60s if our Wagoneer was a Kaiser or a Jeep, or was it a Willys? Today, the question is still there, a Jeep or a Wagoneer? And while we always thought ours was a 1966 model, there was some question if it was a 1964 model sold as a 66.  My Mother choose to buy that vehicle for its ability to manage driving in the snow, certainly not for its 12 mpg, in the days of sub fifty-cent a gallon fuel. It was as basic as they come, no power anything. Not steering, brakes, even the windows and rear tailgate window were crank by hand. She choose not to get the optional, and fuel saving, Warn locking hubs, as she said she was not getting out on an icy snowy cold day to turn them. As I recall that Wagoneer’s price came in about $1800, it had a basic 256 Cu Inch six-cylinder engine and a three on the tree manual transmission and an optional AM Radio.. 

Wagoneer has large doors all around.

Both of those were a far cry from this fourth generation WS 2022 Wagoneer Series III.  And one of the reasons I am thrilled to be able to take it out for a review. Today’s parents will be happy to have a Wagoneer as the family hauler, because it will haul, tow, and cart just about anything and everything and every one with its seating for eight, and enormous cargo area, even with the 3rd-row seats up.

What the Wagoneer Is and What It Is Not

Wagoneer is not little, nor is it fuel-efficient. It excels at hauling and towing, but mostly at carrying people in style and comfort. And that comfort level can be from darn nice to downright elegant. It is not the simple SUV that it once was. There are lots of menus for the driver to drill down to get the information that they might be looking for. While this tester only had two screens, you can option a lot more in, if you choose to. Lots of power outlets for devices that passengers will bring onboard for the trip. With all of that the Wagoneer is a great long-distance driver, one that is comfortable as it is big.

Outside Styling

Wagoneer is big and long and imposing.

Wagoneer is BIG, as is its brother Grand Wagoneer, they are both the same size, while the Wagoneer Series I, II, or III are nice, Grand Wagoneer is the ultimate in luxury with more chrome on the exterior, and more touches on the interior. I found the Wagoneer I tested to be somewhat plain, which was pleasing to me, as it is well styled for its size. Too much more detailing would have not added to the overall look of this beyond full-size SUV. It has four large doors, a very large hatch, and three glass roof panels, one over each row of seats.

Interior

Wagoneer’s cockpit has a huge center console.

As large as the Wagoneer is on the outside, that benefits the roomy interior spaces. Seating is recreation room large and comfortable. Leg and shoulder room are plentiful, perfect for those rambunctious passengers who need plenty of space to move around in while on a road trip in the vehicle.

The 2nd row features three fold-down heated seats

.

Heated front and 2nd-row seats, cooled right and left front seats are nice, as is the HVAC controls for the second row. Those controls are larger and more intricate than some lesser vehicles overall heater controls.

Plenty of cargo space with the 3-row seats in place.
Fold down the 2nd and 3rd-row seats and you have a lot of space to haul stuff.

Cargo Space

Rear cargo space is plentiful, even with the third-row up is plentiful and down is enormous. The best part is that you can have anyone of the five parts of the 2nd or 3rd-row seats down, to offer the most flexibility in carrying pretty much anything.

Capable

It is a Jeep, after all, even if it does not say JEEP blatantly on the exterior, though there are plenty of Jeep word logos in the lights and Jeep easter eggs around the vehicle. The 5.7 V-8 Engine features e-Torque as well as cylinder de-activation, providing power, performance, and economy. Well as much economy as you can expect for a vehicle of this size. I( never saw much over 21 miles per gallon.  Also, you can equip the Wagoneer with Quadra Drive III which is Jeep’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system that puts the power to the wheels that have grip, and does not spin those wheels that do not have traction.

Wagoneer’s 5.7-Litre engine with e-Torque and cylinder deactivation.

Pricing

All of this comes at a price, and Wagoneer is not inexpensive. With a base price of $58,995 for a Series I, $69,640 for a Series II, and $74.640 for a Series II. Though I hardly think you will find a base model Wagoneer, as they are often well optioned. Though with discounts that Stellantis offers from time to time, you no doubt can get a good deal on an amazingly capable larger than full-size SUV. The Series III Wagoneer media tester that we were given for a week to drive came in $81K and change. Of course, you can just go all out and do a Grand Wagoneer starting at $88,400 and topping out well over $120K.

Wagoneer Its all you need to say

By saying the word Wagoneer, you know you are not talking about any other vehicle than the well-known Jeep, But it isn’t really a Jeep today, as Wagoneer is becoming its own offshoot brand like RAM was after it left Dodge. Stellantis is positioning Wagoneer as a stand-alone premium luxury SUV brand, and no doubt they will do quite well with it as there is a demonstrated strong market for premium SUVs.

Would I buy this vehicle?  To be perfectly honest, no! For me it is just too big, I found the driver dash menus to be too complicated, and the center screen is to hard to manipulate while driving.  Plus I have a fond spot in my heart for the original Jeep Wagoneer, a basic1966 one, like I learned to drive on. Nothing can replace that in my heart.

Words and Images by William West Hopper

William West Hopper VIP Tour Guide at the Washington DC Auto Show
William West Hopper is a long time VIP Tour Guide at the Washington DC Auto Show

Mr. Hopper grew up in rural Pennsylvania and learned to drive on a 1966 Jeep Wagoneer with a six-cylinder engine, three on the tree, and no power, nothing! In High School, he drove a Jeep Commando and learned to drive in snow and go off-roading with that capable American Motors Jeep.  Today he is President Emeritus of the Washington Automotive Press Association in Washington DC. You can find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and of course YouTube with both the Queer4Cars and The Real DCCarGuy channel.


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