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2022 Jeep Wagoneer debuts with Hemi power and 3 rows of seats

Along with the even swankier Grand Wagoneer, this reborn SUV pushes the Jeep brand to new heights.

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Meet the 2022 Wagoneer, a three-row SUV with loads of interior space and plenty of features.

Jeep

Jeep has revived its iconic Wagoneer nameplate after a three-decade hiatus. Designed to be a best-in-class product and provide a new ownership experience to customers, the production version of this premium, V8-powered, three-row SUV debuted on Thursday.

Harkening back to the original, which was discontinued in 1991, the 2022 Jeep Wagoneer features bold and boxy styling and it rolls on 20- or 22-inch wheels. This vehicle's stature is tall and imposing, the body long and seemingly impervious to any obstacles. Giving passengers unobstructed visibility are large, U-shaped windows all around. For better or worse, this Jeep looks nearly identical to the Grand Wagoneer concept that debuted late last year.

While not immediately obvious, the Wagoneer's styling is subtly different from its grander sibling. For starters, the vehicle's name is spelled out in blocky letters across the hood's leading edge, as opposed to being integrated in the grille. Some of the exterior trimmings are different and special color-tinted windows are not offered. Curiously, there's no Jeep branding on the front or rear of the vehicle. Even the retro-inspired two-spoke steering wheel is emblazoned with "Wagoneer" instead of "Jeep" like you'd normally see. This is because Wagoneer is designed to be a premium extension of the brand, like Range Rover is to Land Rover -- something a little different than more mainstream Jeeps. Sadly, no wood or even simulated timber paneling is offered on the exterior.

This SUV's interior is suitably upscale, with plenty of cut-and-sewn materials, attractive accents and sprawl-out amounts of passenger space. Nappa leather is standard, and you can get seating for up to eight people. The front bucket chairs adjust in 12 ways, half as many as in the Grand Wagoneer. Three-zone climate control is standard. The cabin's overall design is fetching, though it's hard to tell if it's appreciably nicer than what you get in either a Chevy Tahoe or Ford Expedition. Naturally, we'll reserve judgement until we can actually drive one. The much pricier Grand Wagoneer is orders of magnitude more upscale, a real rival to luxury SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.

The Wagoneer should be incredibly spacious inside, with best-in-class headroom and legroom in the second- and third-row seats, segment-leading cargo space behind that rearmost backrest and the lowest lift-over height in its class for easy loading of luggage or other items. These attributes should make it an absolute road-trip warrior.

As for technology, the 2022 Wagoneer comes standard with a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch central infotainment screen. A speedy Uconnect 5 infotainment system is also included at no extra charge. This Android-based affair supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as convenient over-the-air software updates. The Wagoneer is also offered with up to 11 USB ports. For enhanced listening pleasure, a McIntosh sound system with 19 speakers is available on top-shelf Wagoneer Series III models.

All the active safety tech you'd expect should be standard here -- features like automatic parking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and much more. A 360-degree camera system is available and the Wagoneer comes with something called Active Driving Assist, which is basically adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and lane centering. Beyond that, later in the year it will also be offered with Hands-Free Active Driving Assist, which should operate just like GM's laudable Super Cruise system.

The Grand Wagoneer's cabin may be, well, grander, but there's still plenty to love about the Wagoneer's interior.

Jeep

The Wagoneer rides on a fully boxed frame incorporating a range of different steels for greater strength. Visually similar to what undergirds the Ram 1500 pickup, these two structures are nonetheless quite different. According to Jeep executives, this is essentially an all-new platform, meaning very little is shared between them. The Wagoneer has an independent rear suspension instead of a live axle, different hard points up front and even a low, flat section at the rear, which helps contribute to its excellent interior space. A burly Class 4 hitch is standard equipment, integrated right into the aft section of this SUV's frame, providing the ability to tow up to 10,000 pounds, a segment-leading (and seriously impressive) figure.

If you're curious about numbers, both Wagoneers are the same size. They roll on a 123-inch wheelbase and are 214.7 inches from grille to liftgate. This makes them both a little longer than a Tahoe but about 10 inches shorter than a Suburban. But if you need more space, a Jeep spokesman confirmed to Roadshow that extended-length variants are in the works. "The vehicles you guys are looking at here today, obviously, are short-wheelbase," he said. "We have a long-wheelbase [variant] coming as well. More info on that later."

Nestled between those bridge girder-like frame rails is a 5.7-liter Hemi augmented by a eTorque mild-hybrid system. Altogether, this V8 delivers a respectable 392 horsepower and 404 pound-feet of torque. Aside from providing smoother engine stop-start events, extended fuel shut-off and improved shift quality, eTorque also boosts performance, providing a husky 130 lb-ft of twist for greater performance.

The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are tough to tell apart, but there is one major tell: Look for "Wagoneer" spelled out across the hood. That indicates you're looking at the less "grand" of these two SUVs.

Jeep

Predictably, the 2022 Wagoneer comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which works splendidly in other Jeep and Ram applications, so we have high hopes for it here. A 3.21 final-drive ratio is standard in the vehicle, though you can also get an electronically locking set of 3.92 gears, for quicker getaway and enhanced traction.

The Wagoneer comes standard with rear-wheel drive, though a potpourri of four-wheel-drive systems is available. A fully automatic Quadra-Trac I setup is on the menu, though you can also get a much more capable Quadra-Trac II setup, which includes a two-speed transfer case and low-range gearing for extra capability in the dirt or Quadra-Drive I, a full-time four-wheel-drive system with an electronic limited-slip differential. If conditions dictate, it can send up to 100% of available torque to one rear wheel. The Wagoneer rides on steel springs with automatic load leveling, though Jeep's Quadra-Lift air suspension system with active damping is available (this is standard on the Grand Wagoneer). Curiously, neither Wagoneer is Trail Rated, at least not yet, a signature Jeep feature. Company executives have hinted, however, that this could change in the coming years, so stay tuned for news on that front. As it stands, the Wagoneer already offers up to 10 inches of ground clearance and can drive through 24 inches of water.

Do you think the Wagoneer is going to be a hot seller or a showroom dud?

Jeep

Setting the Wagoneer apart from lesser Jeeps is a focus on customer care. These SUVs will only be sold from J.D. Power-certified dealers that are staffed with Wagoneer-specific sales consultants. Customers will be treated to complimentary snacks and Wi-Fi while in the showroom, and when a vehicle is brought in for service, it gets cleaned inside and out free of charge.

The 2022 Wagoneer starts at $59,995 including an ambitious $2,000 destination charge, which makes it several grand richer than either a Tahoe or Expedition. Hoping to appeal to a broad range of customers, it will be offered in three trims: Series I, Series II and Series III. This Jeep will be built in Warren, Michigan, right outside Detroit, and you can preorder one of these swanky new SUVs starting right now -- just head over to Wagoneer.com and plunk down a $500 deposit. Deliveries, however, aren't scheduled to start until the second half of the year.