Sing it after me: “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Ahhh, who doesn’t love a little Nat King Cole in the Holiday Season?
Now a truly impressive feature about the brand new, super-sized Grand Wagoneer I’m driving, is cranking-up a little Nat on the spectacular 1,375-watt, 23-speaker McIntosh surround-sound system.
But the best is yet to come. To accompany Mr. Cole, a tap of a digital screen button lets you select a “relax mode” when parked-up. Then, right before your very eyes, a flickering, crackling, super-realistic log fire emerges on not one, but three dashboard screens.
I’ve seen it on friends’ TVs as a dinner-party mood enhancer. But never on an SUV.
Beware, the first time you try it, you’ll think your fascia is being flambéed. Just like with faulty wiring on an ’04 Chevy Malibu.
This technical marvel, this rolling suite at The Four Seasons, this Coach handbag store on wheels, is the 2022 Grand Wagoneer. All $106,900 of it.
Yes, it’s a Jeep, but try as you will, you’ll struggle to find a single Jeep badge anywhere on this super-luxe truck. This is parent company Stellantis, hoping to create a new Wagoneer sub-brand.
Naturally with this lofty sticker, it goes head-to-head with such luxury grandees as the Lincoln Navigator Black Label, Cadillac’s Escalade Platinum and GMC’s Yukon Denali Black Package.
But to justify the price tag, the Grand’s interior is nothing less than a visual, tactile, sumptuous masterpiece. So sumptuous that not only will it have you screaming in joy, but screaming at the kids: Get Those Shoes Off!
The quality and craftsmanship is astonishing. From the perfect stitching, the touch and feel of the quilted and perforated leather, the subtle satin-finished metal accents, and the truly lovely open-pore real wood.
And techies will go gaga at the multitude of over-the-top controls and features. This thing has more pixel-perfect screens than your local multiplex, more digital controls than one of Elon’s Space-X rockets.
Talking of space, the Grand Wagoneer is a true, three-row, seven or eight passenger luxury people mover. And probably the first in its class with a three-across, third-row seat that adults can use.
Power open that high-lifting tailgate and not only is there a decent amount of load space behind the third row, but buttons electrically flatten the third and second rows. A seven-foot Douglas Fir slides in there with room to spare.
Motivating this three-ton honker is the all-muscle 6.4-liter 471-horsepower Hemi V8 that does duty in everything from the Dodge Charger to the Ram Heavy Duty to the Wrangler Rubicon 392.
In the Grand Wagoneer it’s hooked up to a Teflon-smooth eight-speed automatic with a two-speed transfer case for off-road adventures.
Stomp on the gas from standstill and the Grand will lunge off the line like Usain Bolt in the 100 meters. Sixty comes up from standstill in under six seconds. That’s quick.
But the effect of a huge V8 moving 6,300 pounds of truck is depressing when its comes to the pumps. The 4×4’s EPA Combined rating is an appalling 15mpg. Around town you’ll struggle to average 13mpg. If ever a truck needed electric assist, it’s this.
Fuel economy aside, the Wagoneer rides smoothly and actually feels smaller on the road, with its precise, nicely-weighted steering, easy all-round visibility and tight air suspension.
No, I can’t say I’m a fan of the square-box styling with those roundy-edge side windows and chopped off tail. But it sure grabs a lot of thumbs-up and selfies on the streets.
Pricing for this big boy kicks off at $88,440 for the Series I. There’s also a more luxurious Series II at $95,440, an all-black Obsidian at $100,440, and our Series III flagship at $106,990 with destination.
As for having a flickering log fire on your dashboard? Just priceless. Time to break-out the eggnog.