The 2006 Commander is our modern-day Wagoneer. It's square, rugged, and has the go-anywhere attitude of the prior Jeep model, which existed from 1963 to 1991. That isn't a bad vehicle to emulate: Those who bought Wagoneers and Grand Wagoneers loved them, and fans sought their big, boxy look, wood paneling, and four-wheel-drive capability. They were bigger than station wagons and were sport/utilities before the category existed.

Changing tastes caused the full-size Jeep to disappear, and the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee became Jeep's big sellers. But the Grand Cherokee didn't offer seven-passenger seating, and it didn't have the tall, square look--the trademark for Jeeps past. While rumors of a new Ram-based Grand Wagoneer flew fast and furious, DaimlerChrysler went in another direction--it designed a new SUV, based on the new Grand Cherokee platform, and called it the Commander.

While the new vehicle has the same wheelbase as the Grand Cherokee, Jeep did some serious repackaging to give it room for three rows of seats. Because the sides, front, and rear are much more vertical than those of the Grand Cherokee, and the body is two inches longer, the Commander's interior is roomier. The new vehicle is wider by nearly five inches and taller by more than four, which translates to increased headroom in the first and second rows, more legroom in the second row (despite that added third row), and increased cargo volume. The 40/20/40-split reclining second row is situated higher than the front row, and the 50/50 third row is higher than the second in a stadium-seating setup that folds flat when hauling cargo's a higher priority. The roof is a stepped design that ensures headroom in every row.

Interior amenities include Command-View skylights (fixed glass panels above the second row) and optional power sunroof and DVD player. There's also additional storage in the form of an L-shaped bin in the floor behind the third row. The Commander comes standard with cloth seats, the V-6 engine, and body-color grille; the Limited receives leather, a choice of V-8s, chrome grille, and handles on the D-pillar that run from the roof rails down.