The Jeep Wagoneer gets a longer body and a longer engine, BMW facelifts the X7, and Subaru’s cladding addition continues. All this on a special New York Auto Show edition of The Morning Dump.
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The Longest Jeep Gets The Longest Motor
The Jeep Wagoneer may already look like someone threw dubs on the Empire State Building, but customers are craving something even bigger. Who can blame them? An extended-length full-size body-on-frame SUV might be the best way to group road-trip across America, swallowing cargo and munching miles in serene comfort. Even seeing highway fuel economy in the low 20s, filling up all three rows still uses less fuel per person than taking two gas-only mid-sized sedans. To give the people what they want, Stellantis has stretched out its monolith to create the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L.
At 12 inches (305 millimeters) longer than a standard Wagoneer and riding on a wheelbase seven inches (178 millimeters) longer, the Wagoneer L is actually a touch shorter in length and wheelbase than a Cadillac Escalade ESV. Still, that should mean healthy gains in passenger room, right? Sike! Instead of focusing on passenger comfort, Jeep has put those length gains to work in the cargo area by offering a massive 44.2 cubic feet (1,251 liters) of room with all three rows of seats up. That’s 2.7 cubic feet (76 liters) more than an Escalade ESV offers and 8.2 cubic feet (232 liters) more room than a Lincoln Navigator L can offer.
Does this thing have a Hemi? Absolutely not. Say hello to the Hurricane inline-six. While news of this three-liter twin-turbo inline-six broke a few weeks ago, we didn’t have firm power and economy figures until now. The standard-output version of the Hurricane inline-six will be found making 420 horsepower and 468 lb.-ft. of torque in the Wagoneer L, while the Grand Wagoneer L gets a high-output version that cranks out 510 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque. Stout numbers, especially when compared to Stellantis’ line of pushrod V8s. For comparison, the 5.7-liter V8 in the standard Wagoneer churns out 392 horsepower and 404 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 6.4-liter V8 in the Grand Wagoneer makes 471 horsepower and 455 lb.-ft. of torque. The Hurricane inline-six’s impressive gains can be put to good use thanks to class-leading towing capacity of up to 9,850 pounds (4,468 kg).
Both the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L are rated 1 MPG higher combined than their V8-powered standard-length counterparts, although that doesn’t tell the whole story. To start, bigger means heavier, so the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L clock in at between 100 and 300 pounds heavier than the standard-length models. Not great, but not the end of the world either in a vehicle that already weighs in excess of 5,900 pounds in standard-length trim. Next, there’s the matter of turbocharging. Assuming typical sea level barometric pressure of 14.7 pounds per square inch, a standard-output Hurricane inline-six at peak boost of 22 PSI is pumping air into the cylinders that’s 149.65 percent denser than the air in a naturally-aspirated engine. Oxygen intake should be roughly equivalent to that of a 4.5-liter naturally-aspirated engine when on-boost. Add in the necessary fuel enrichment under boost and it’s no surprise that fuel economy figures don’t see huge improvement. Still, more power with no real fuel economy penalty isn’t a bad thing. Pricing hasn’t been announced for the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L, but expect news on that front closer to when Jeep’s longest SUVs go on sale later this year.
BMW seems to love a bit of controversy. Its big-boy X7 luxury SUV was the first model to turn the kidney grilles into lungs, and now the Bavarian brick has received a facelift to be the first production model to get BMW’s new split-headlamp treatment. This treatment starts with slim daytime running lights high atop the front fascia, with dark-finish headlamps in separate housings lower on the fascia. The enormous front grille remains a hallmark of the X7 and can now be illuminated if you want to look like a complete knob. While standard models now feature silver lower fascia elements that look a bit like energy swords from the Halo series of video games, M Sport and M Performance models get a blacked-out trim treatment with additional black trim bits for the front bumper’s air curtains. As is tradition for BMW facelifts, the taillights have been redesigned, the rear bumper’s lower trim has been slightly re-worked and new alloy wheel designs feature across the range.
The outgoing X7 had a choice of inline-six or V8 power, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the 2023 model gets similar engine choices. X7 xDrive 40i models feature an updated B58 inline-six with Miller cycle capability. This smooth six cranks out 375 horsepower and 383 lb.-ft. of torque, notable jumps from the outgoing model’s 335 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque. V8-powered M60i models feature a new 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 called the S63, making 523 horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque. Curiously enough, those are exactly the same power figures as the old N63 V8-powered M50i model. Should you want more power, an updated Alpina XB7 model is right around the corner with 621 horsepower, 590 lb.-ft. of torque and a stonking 180 mph top speed. All engines feature 48-volt mild hybrid systems and put their power to all four wheels through a ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Of course the big news on the inside is the implementation of iDrive 8, a brighter, crisper, slicker, simplified user interface. While infotainment can still be used through BMW’s trademark iDrive knob, it’s quite easy to navigate through the 14.9-inch infotainment system using the touchscreen. The 12.3-inch digital cluster is also an improvement over the outgoing model’s sheer data overload, although there’s something conspicuously absent from the new X7’s cockpit. Dude, where’s my climate control panel? It might just be my Canadian cold-weather sensibilities speaking, but heated seats that can only be controlled through the touchscreen aren’t a great idea. There’s also no gear knob on offer, but that’s perfectly fine. The new gear selector switch looks plenty intuitive and saves a bit of space. Leather upholstery is available, but don’t be quick to brush off the standard Sensafin leatherette upholstery. Judging by how BMW’s old Sensatec leatherette holds up, Sensafin might be the smart move for long-term durability.
Described by BMW as a “central pillar in the ongoing product offensive at the most exclusive reaches of the premium car-maker’s model line-up,” some people might find the updated X7 offensive. Honestly, I like it more than I should. The updated X7 isn’t nearly as crass as the current M4 and the wedgy front end feels surprisingly cohesive. Pricing starts at $78,845 for the xDrive 40i model and $104,095 for the M60i model, with an expected on-sale date this fall. As for the Alpina XB7, it’s coming early in 2023. While pricing for this top-dog model hasn’t been announced, we can be sure that it’ll be expensive.
Lights, Cladding, Action
Speaking of giving the people what they want, Subaru has refreshed the Outback wagon for 2023 to feature a tougher appearance, updated safety systems, and a trick bit of outdoorsy tech. Let’s start with the visuals. The current-generation Subaru Outback had a bit of a problem it debuted – people couldn’t tell it apart from the old model. The current car’s greenhouse was a bit swoopier and the plastic cladding was a touch more intense, but to the casual observer, a 2022 Outback looks exactly like a 2015 Outback from across a parking lot. That shouldn’t be a problem now. Angrier headlights align the 2023 Outback with the rest of the Subaru family, while unpainted corner cladding on the front bumper should guard against bollards and boulders alike. Long-time Outback fans will be stoked on the new round fog lights, a bit of a throwback to the golden years of limited-slip differentials and available manual gearboxes. The wheel arch cladding also gets more angular, taking inspiration from Marcello Gandini’s radical Lamborghinis. Unfortunately, not every Outback gets the new cosmetic treatment. The Outback Wilderness is heading into 2023 visually-unchanged.
Like boxer engines, all-wheel-drive, an outdoorsy image and slightly ugly styling, safety is a Subaru hallmark. As such, Subaru claim they’ve made improvements to their EyeSight driver assist suite. It’s still a camera-based system, but all models get a wider field of view and updated software. The top-spec Touring trim also gets an extra wide-angle camera to better detect pedestrians and cyclists. Locking what might be the greatest safety advancement to the top trim seems a little scummy to me, but what do I know? Also locked to higher trims is a new automatic emergency steering function that’s supposed to help avoid crashes below 50 mph (80 km/h). Hey, at least all 2023 Outback models get an electric brake booster that touts improved EyeSight performance and is sure to affect pedal feel. We’ll reserve judgment for when we drive it, some of the latest brake-by-wire systems on the market are actually pretty good. For those who want to get out into nature, what3words geocode functionality has been added to the Outback’s up-level infotainment system so owners can share their favorite scenic vistas. While this definitely sounds like a boon, wouldn’t it be unfortunate if the words chosen for your favorite vista ended up creating a rude phrase?
On a more consumer-focused front, a revised 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system on all but the base model features wireless Apple CarPlay, full-screen Android Auto and revised on-screen controls. The Onyx trim is now available with either the 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four or the base 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated flat-four. Pricing is expected to be announced closer to the 2023 Subaru Outback’s on-sale date this fall, right on time for pumpkin spice latte season. Honestly, Subaru fans will probably quite like the new Outback. When you’re leading the sales race in your segment, you don’t mess too much with a successful thing.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. The New York International Auto Show has officially kicked off, so expect more news to come throughout the day. In the meantime, all these big, expensive new SUVs beg a question: What’s going to happen to cars people can actually afford? Even subcompact crossovers are often cynical attempts to make people pay out the nose for a small hatchback with plastic cladding. While a fair selection of automakers still offer reasonably-priced cars, the subcompact segment is almost dead in America and the compact segment is moving upmarket faster than trust fund kids gentrified Williamsburg. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the entry-level side of the new car market.
Lead photo credit: Stellantis
Memo to BMW: making the paint look like silk is fantastic, but does not make the vehicle less ugly. Flame-surfacing’s ashes are cold and washed away, and sewer grates are only cool for the Ninja Turtles. What the hell is wrong with you?
A simple car enthusiast.
A 3.0l I6? That’s a reasonable displacement. Does it have OHC?
If you cover up the grille, it just looks like a burban. yawn.
A Jeep “Suburban”, just what America needs. As for the BMW, the grille looks larger than the engine in my BMW motorcycle!
The Grand Wagoneer only has a 1 mpg improvement over the hemi? That doesn’t appear to be as efficient as it should be.