The squared outlines allow good room about your head, further expanded by a sunroof that comes with rear-roof glass panels. Careful tuning of the windshield/pillar area and laminated side glass keep wind noise in check and you sit well back from anything--including assist handles--much like a Beetle or PT Cruiser. Inside and out, the cubic design brought comparisons with Hummers and a debate that an eighth slot in the grille would prevent the "looks a size too small" syndrome the grille currently has.

Jeep follows a popular philosophy: If your corporate parts bin is good enough, raid it. Jeep gave the Commander familiar, functional inputs for climate, electronics, and instrumentation. The driver's seat is powered on every model, all offer good support and comfort that lasts longer than a tank of gas, and the topline leather is quite nice. If only some other contact points didn't feel like hard plastic.

Jeep wisely split the Commander in just two lines: Starting near $30,000, more choices get redundant quickly, and a loaded Commander will cost more than the priciest Grand Cherokee. To some eyes, the base Commander is the smarter buy, more cleanly elegant and stylish, with fewer trim adornments, less chrome, and five-spoke wheels. The Limited adds various treatments, including roof rails that extend to handles on the back, though we suspect more base models will actually carry stuff on the roof. The hatch glass can be opened separately, and the steep angle doesn't hold much snow that you would have to remove first.

The Commander was characterized as the "most capable off-road three-row SUV" available. We'd feel that's true at the price, but would wager a GX 470 (ideally with KDSS) or LR3 would have no trouble keeping up, especially if tires or departure angle ever became an issue: The Commander's rear overhang gives 20 degrees, 10 and eight less than an LR3 or Grand Cherokee, respectively. Of course, neither the GX 470 nor LR3 are priced near a Commander.