I think I might actually be offended by the Jeep Grand Wagoneer

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The 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer gets 15 mpg combined. That is atrocious. That also happens to be the exact same fuel economy as a Chevrolet Tahoe — from 20 years ago. Underline. Italicize. Exclamation point. The 2002 Ford Expedition? It was actually better! at 16 mpg.

Now, to be fair, the Grand Wagoneer's 6.4-liter V8 produces 471 horsepower to ye olde Tahoe's 275 hp or the Expedition's laughable 232 hp. We're admittedly looking at considerable progress there. However, it's important to note that the JGW's fuel economy is not just atrocious by the standards of electric cars or hybrids or even three-row crossovers. No, it's atrocious by the standards of the current Tahoe and Expedition.

The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe, when equipped with its 5.3-liter V8, gets 18 mpg, while the Ford Expedition and its turbocharged V6 gets 19. That gap may seem insignificant, but because miles per gallon is a deceptive way of reporting fuel economy, differences between lower MPG figures like these are actually much greater in terms of fuel used than a similar 4-mpg gap would be between hybrids.

Where can the difference be seen, then? According to the EPA, the average annual fuel cost for the Grand Wagoneer would be $3,800. The Tahoe would be $2,600 and the Expedition $2,450. That means the great big Jeep will cost you $1,200 or more per year to run. Again, not compared to a Prius or even the average new vehicle, which would be at least $2,000. No no, a Tahoe!

Ah, but what of the luxury models? The 18-mpg Navigator is $2,750 and the 17-mpg Escalade is $3,350, while offering a diesel engine good for an exceptional 22 mpg and $2,250 per year (though diesel prices widely vary). In other words, this isn't just a green argument. The Grand Wagoneer will cost you thousands more to run than its competitors.

There are reasons for this. The big one is weight. The base Wagoneer curb weight starts at 5,960 pounds, while the ultra-lux, range-topping Grand Wagoneer Series III crushes the scales at 6,420. The V8-powered Escalade starts at 5,635; the Navigator at 5,655. A difference of 800 pounds is immense.

But there's also the powertrain itself. True, the 6.4-liter V8 may produce more power than the Navigator or V8-powered Escalade, but both considerably exceed its torque. They both have 10-speed automatic transmissions to the Jeep's eight-speed. Cadillac includes a more advanced version of cylinder deactivation, while the V6-powered Lincoln obviously goes one step further by leaving two cylinders out altogether. At least the base Wagoneer's 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is paired with the Ram 1500's eTorque mild-hybrid system, demonstrating the corporate entity formerly known as Chrysler is at least capable of modestly acknowledging modernity.

Basically, for all the whiz-bang, look-at-me showmanship going on inside the Grand Wagoneer that should be rightfully praised, its powertrain is embarrassingly behind the times and is tasked with propelling a vehicle heavier than some Jovian moons. This is not progress. Not for the automotive industry and definitely not for Jeep. Offering a Grand Wagoneer 4xe plug-in hybrid might end up earning it some brownie points, but it's mostly a token gesture considering the vast majority leaving dealers will be powered by the 15-mpg Scat Pack special. Every Tahoe, Yukon, Expedition and Navigator enjoys substantial advantages, while the Escalade diesel seems like a far more appealing proposition to the typical full-size SUV buyer than a plug-in hybrid.

So that's the argument against the Grand Wagoneer from the perspective of someone who might actually be shopping for one. For the rest of us, I can only shake my head at a vehicle that somehow manages to shame the Navigator and Escalade's conspicuous consumption. Its dimensions, curb weight and fuel inefficiency dwarf them all. It's like an SUV created in an alternate reality that forked from the prime timeline at some point in 2006; a reality where gas prices aren't north of $3, the Hummer brand wasn't laughed out of existence, and climate change is just a thing Al Gore once created a Powerpoint about.

People will assuredly still buy the thing and be wowed by its many acres of leather and LED screens. They will appreciate that it can lug a boat, four people and a large dog to the cottage. They won't look twice at the number that appears next to $ at the Shell pump. That's all on them. For Jeep and Stellantis, however, I see nothing exciting, innovative or even visually attractive about this opulent dinosaur. I think I might actually be offended by it. But hey, at least it's better than the last Grand Wagoneer. That got 11 mpg in 1991. Progress!

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