2023 Wagoneer Series II

There are Kahunas and then there is the Kahuna — Jeep’s Grand Wagoneer L.

“L” for length — and more.

More than 3 tons (6,621 pounds) and 500-plus horsepower to keep it all moving and pulling. This Kahuna can tow 10,000 pounds and seats eight, too.

It also includes the house the kitchen sink was in — just about.

What It Is

The Grand Wagoneer L is a longer, larger version of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the latter introduced last year as Jeep’s largest-ever SUV.

Base price is $91,495, and for that, you get a standard 510 horsepower twin-turbo engine, an adjustable-height suspension, three-pane panorama glass sunroof, 20-inch wheels, massaging seats, four-zone climate control, a 19-speaker McIntosh premium audio system, second-row captain’s chairs and sunshades, digital instrument panel and a 12-inch secondary touchscreen on top of the center stack, plus another one that folds away, revealing a secret storage cubby just below it.

Four-wheel drive and multiple selectable Drive Modes are included.

A top-of-the line Series III Obsidian ($111,990) comes standard with quilted leather upholstery, night vision, a 23-speaker McIntosh audio system, a mini-fridge built into the center console and a pair of 10.25-inch LCD entertainment monitors for the rear seat passengers.

What’s New

The L version of the Grand Wagoneer is new for 2023.

What’s Good

One-ups everything else in almost every way.

Six-cylinder engine out-powers rivals’ V8 engines.

Seating in the third row is nearly as spacious as second-row seating.

What’s Not So Good

“Jeep” isn’t yet a luxury brand, though this Jeep is priced to compete with luxury brands.

Powerful six doesn’t sound as powerful as a V8.

Under The Hood

One of the interesting things about this big Kahuna is that it comes standard with one of the smallest engines in the class — a 3.0-liter inline six. Jeep chose the Wagoneer to showcase this all-new engine, the Hurricane, which will replace the Hemi V8 engine in Jeep, Ram and Dodge models going forward.

It is an immensely powerful engine, summoning 510 horsepower and 500 foot-pounds of torque, more of both than even the twice-its-size 6.4-liter V8 that’s still the standard engine in the regular-wheelbase Wagoneer.

The six is also really smooth, with an almost imperceptible idle. Inline sixes are esteemed for exactly that reason and are lighter, in addition, because they do not need heavy counterweights and balancers to smooth them out.

An eight-speed automatic and 4WD are standard; the two-speed transfer case has 2.64 gearing in 4WD low range. Also, standard is a 30-gallon gas tank, which gives this Kahuna 579 miles of range on the highway.

On The Road

It is difficult to find anything objective to fault about the Grand Wagoneer L’s Road manners, which are as refined as any current full-size luxury car’s. It is like driving a Mercedes S-Class that can drive over one, should the need arise. The standard air-adjustable suspension can raise you up 10 inches off the pavement, sufficient to wade through two feet of water.

“Grand” is exactly the right word, too.

There is almost nothing lacking here, from the grand ride conferred by body-on-frame construction and 130 inches of wheelbase to the comfort of standard massaging seats. It is almost inconceivable that something more grand could be envisioned, let alone delivered.

But there almost is that, though it may not matter to you.

It is the absence of a grand sound to accompany this Kahuna’s coming and going. The Hurricane six is so quiet you can barely hear it.

It is perfectly possible that the buyers Jeep is hoping to attract — an affluent clientele by definition when we are talking about a rig that starts at more than $90,000 — will prefer the sounds of silence, or nearly so. But some of us will mourn the loss of the grand sound that a big V8 delivers and which used to come standard with a Kahuna such as this.

At The Curb

What you’ve got here is more Grand Wagoneer.

Almost exactly a foot more in terms of length (226.7 inches vs. 214.7 for the standard wheelbase version) and more space (for cargo) behind the third row, which increases to 44.2 cubic feet vs. 27.4 in the standard-wheelbase Grand Wagoneer.

Total available cargo capacity in the L is 112.9 cubic feet vs. 94.2 in the standard-wheelbase Grand Wagoneer.

But what makes this Jeep grand is the passenger space you’ll find in the third row, including 36.6 inches of legroom, which is comparable to the second-row legroom typical in most midsize luxury cars. There’s space for your head, too — 38.5 inches — which means all, but the over-six-footers won’t need to sit hunched over. Most of the SUVs in this class tout seven to eight-passenger capacity, but this one has capacity for seven to eight adults.

With the second and third rows down, you can also fit a 4×8 sheet of plywood in the back.

The Rest

You may notice there are no “Jeep” badges on this Jeep. That’s because Jeep intends to spin off Wagoneer as a luxury sub-brand, befitting its grand status.

The Bottom Line

There are some other large SUVs.

But this one’s the Kahuna.

Eric’s latest book, “Doomed: Good Cars Gone Wrong!” will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.