2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L Series III Obsidian Review – Smooth Sailing


2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

The word “Hurricane” doesn’t usually conjure up a feeling of smoothness. Hurricanes are brutal forces of nature that involve whipping winds, flying debris, and extremely choppy waters.

Jeep’s Grand Wagoneer got the Hurricane treatment for the 2023 model year – those engines have now found their way into the 2025 Ram 1500, as well. As with the Ram, buyers can pick between two 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged, inline-six-cylinder engines. One makes 420 horsepower and 468 lb-ft of torque while the other pumps out 510 ponies and 500 lb-ft of twist. My test vehicle had the latter.

(Full disclosure: I was on vacation in Palm Springs, California and Stellantis was nice enough to loan me the Grand Wagoneer for testing while I was in SoCal.)

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

I hadn’t wheeled a Wagoneer with a Hurricane motor since our first drive in Montana, so I was curious to see if the impressions I gathered way back in twenty-aught-two would hold up over several days of driving that would include a trip to Joshua Tree National Park and two long jaunts from LAX to Palm Springs and back, plus a sprinkling of suburban and urban motoring.

For the most part, they did. I remembered how smooth the experience was, both in terms of engine operation and ride, and that didn’t change, especially on mostly unbroken California pavement.

Like with the Ram, the higher-output Hurricane offered up plenty of thrust. That’s counterbalanced a bit by the massive curb weight of nearly 7,000 pounds(!) but there was still enough guts for around-town acceleration and relatively easy freeway passing.

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

Handling is acceptable for a beast this size, with body roll minimized – the GW handled the mountain run up to Pioneertown without too much drama. It’s far from sporty, which should be obvious, but it’s not ponderous in the way you might expect from something that rivals my condo for interior square footage.

As noted, the ride was generally smooth, and the one or two times I encountered a rough patch of pavement the Grand Wagoneer made the broken road sound and feel distant. The only time the ride was truly rough was on a washboard dirt road in Joshua Tree – though switching the drive mode to Sand/Mud seemed to mitigate it just a bit.

The only time the proceedings didn’t operate as smoothly as James Bond in a casino was on my return to Los Angeles – there was a bit of creakiness to the powertrain/transmission in the lower gears while prowling city streets at low speeds that raised my eyebrows. This dissipated as the journey wore on and I got rolling at highway speeds.

Speaking of the transmission, it’s an eight-speed automatic.

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

The air suspension raises and lowers the Jeep based on drive mode and speed, attempting to help with aerodynamics as well as making sure you have the proper ride height if you do any light off-roading. Aside from a brief trip down a run-of-the-mill dirt path, I didn’t do any “off roading” with this Jeep. As for how much the aerodynamics help with fuel economy, read on.

Inside, the Grand Wagoneer coddles with upscale materials, Uconnect 5 infotainment, massaging seats, a retractable lower screen in the center stack, a separate screen for passengers, a head-up display, and more. It’s roomy, as it should be given this vehicle’s size. Even the third row is comfortable for adults – I put myself back there for a few minutes and I had head and legroom aplenty despite being on the taller side. Entry and exit wasn’t super tricky, either.

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

I liked the little storage space on top of the center console – it’s a nice little place to set your phone or other small items.

The biggest flaw here is that the GW is, well, big. Especially with the additional seven inches of wheelbase and 12 inches of length. The Jeep extended out from parking spots in some places. Drive-thru runs in tightly-packed urban areas near LAX were more stressful than usual. When we decided to go a different direction in Joshua Tree and thus had to turn around on a dirt road, I ended up recreating a famous scene from Austin Powers.

Maybe “flaw” is the wrong word – the size is baked into the design. So, it’s a choice. I imagine it works for certain customers – I doubt Stellantis would offer a long-wheelbase option if there wasn’t enough demand for it – but if you’re thinking that you need the extra interior space, just be aware that maneuverability in tight spaces will suffer.

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

The other beef I have with the Grand Wagoneer/Wagoneer series remains the same one I’ve had since these beasts were launched – there are some odd styling choices here and there. The most notable one to me is the oversized D-pillar.

That said, styling is subjective and any weirdness can be cleaned up with a mid-cycle refresh. And while some choices have me scratching my head, the overall package isn’t ugly. It is, however, more cohesive in the forward half than the aft end.

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

What does a base price of $113,095 get you? Features not already mentioned include a two-speed on-demand transfer case, electronic rear limited-slip differential, disconnecting front-axle differential, traffic-sign recognition, rearview mirror camera, 360-degree camera, automated parking system, night vision, active lane-management, active driving assist, drowsy driver detection, full-speed forward-collision plus, blind-spot and rear cross-path detection, pedestrian emergency braking, intersection collision-assist system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, in-car Wi-Fi, navigation, satellite radio, McIntosh audio (excellent, by the way), a rear-seat monitoring camera, a front-console cooler, rear-floor center console, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled rear seats, four-zone climate control, second-row captain’s chairs, power-fold reclining third-row seats, 22-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, power running boards, and power liftgate. I am gonna pass out now.

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

The Obsidian package added black interior and exterior accents, black wheels, a black roof, and more, for $1,595. A trailer-towing package ($1,370) included trailer-brake control, trailer-hitch zoom, tow hooks, and heavy-duty engine cooling. The final option package cost $2,595 and added Amazon Fire TV for the rear seats and a 10.1-inch rear entertainment screen. D and D costs an even two grand.

Total as-tested price? $120,655. That’s … a lot.

Size is the enemy of fuel economy, and even with a reduced cylinder count the numbers are a not great 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway/16 mpg combined. In our sojourn across SoCal I got either 17.8 mpg or 18.5 mpg – there was a discrepancy between the computer and my own calculations – across approximately 430 miles of driving.

I should note that a huge chunk of the drive was on the freeway, though not without stop and go traffic. There was also the relaxed two-lane cruise through the park.

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

The EPA’s estimated range is about 488 miles – I think the computer was showing about 100 miles remaining when I filled up, though. So, either the computer was a bit off or the amount of highway driving was bumping up the calculation. This vehicle did require 91+ octane.

2023 jeep grand wagoneer l series iii obsidian review smooth sailing

The 2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer L is a whole lot of vehicle. Literally. That said, if you regularly haul a pack of humans and/or take a lot of road trips and want to do so smoothly, it’s as good a choice as any. Just prepare to spend a lot on both the sticker price and fuel.

Smoothness doesn’t often come cheap, after all.

[Images © 2024 Tim Healey/TTAC.com, Stellantis/Jeep]

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