2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Vs. 2022 Wagoneer: Which Has the Better Row Setup?

jeep-wagoneer-2022-02-angle--exterior--front--red.jpg photo by Christian Lantry

Jeep hasn’t had a three-row SUV in its lineup since the Commander was dropped from the range following the 2010 model year, but two three-row models have arrived this year: an extended-length Grand Cherokee L version of the mid-size SUV that seats up to seven, and the new full-size Wagoneer that seats up to eight. 

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The number of seating rows alone doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to interior space and comfort, so we checked out each row of both SUVs at the 2021 Chicago Auto Show. Here’s what we found. 

First Row

One of the big differences between the Wagoneer and Grand Cherokee L becomes apparent before you get into the driver’s seat, and that’s their step-in heights. Among non-air suspension models, the Wagoneer’s height is 2.6 inches higher. The two SUVs use different types of construction: The Wagoneer has a body attached to a frame while the Grand Cherokee L has a unibody design.

jeep-grand-cherokee-l-2022-01-angle--exterior--front--gray.jpg 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L | photo by Christian Lantry

Once seated, the main difference between the two SUVs from a space standpoint is the width between you and the front passenger. In the Wagoneer, you’re much further from them, which gives front-seat occupants more physical separation with a wide center console. The Grand Cherokee L has a slimmer center console, and you’re closer to your passenger. Look at the width of each SUV to see why: The Wagoneer is nearly 6 inches wider than the Grand Cherokee L, with a body width of 83.6 inches to the Grand Cherokee L’s 77.9. 

Second Row

The same open, spacious feeling of the Wagoneer’s first row carries over to its second row, which benefits from the SUV’s extra width compared with the Grand Cherokee L. Both of the SUVs on the show floor had second-row captain’s chairs instead of a three-person bench seat. This drops each SUV’s seat count by one, but the benefit in the Wagoneer is a wide center walk-thru that makes it easier to reach the third row. The Grand Cherokee L had an optional center console between its captain’s chairs, but you can tilt the seats forward to access the third row. The captain’s chairs in both SUVs recline and slide forward and backward.

Third Row

The Wagoneer’s larger overall size makes a big difference in the third row. It has nearly 2 inches more headroom and more than 6 inches of additional legroom than the Grand Cherokee L, and it’s significantly more comfortable for adult passengers. The seat cushion in the Wagoneer is a little short, but it wouldn’t prevent adults from riding comfortably on an extended trip. 

It’s a much different story in the Grand Cherokee L; the seat cushion is nearly on the floor, resulting in a knees-up seating position that’s not comfortable. The seat might work for smaller children, but adults won’t want to spend much time back there.

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The Verdict

There’s no question the Wagoneer offers a roomier, more spacious interior than the Grand Cherokee L, but its starting price is also significantly higher. The Wagoneer starts at $69,995 (a lower-priced base model will join the lineup at a later date) to the Grand Cherokee L’s $39,985 starting price; all prices include destination. More cargo space and a higher maximum towing capacity of 10,000 pounds are other reasons to choose a Wagoneer over a Grand Cherokee L, but if you want the most spacious seating — particularly in the third row — the Wagoneer is the one to get. 

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Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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