Jeep, provider of the Wrangler and a lasting bastion of the off-road community, does indeed still make a Trail-Rated, seven-passenger SUV. The Jeep Commander was introduced in 2006, and in its fourth year, it still largely remains the same vehicle: an elongated Grand Cherokee with three rows of seats and different bodywork.
While your local trails won't be swarming with Commanders, the midsize SUV still looks and feels unmistakably like a Jeep. The classic, boxy outline and upright windshield invoke memories of the long-gone Cherokee, one of the most popular SUVs in history. Fortunately, no one will be confusing the square-looking Commander with the classier-looking Grand Cherokee.
Ordering a Commander for 2010 has become a simpler task. Down to just two trims -- the base Sport and topline Limited -- both models are available with rear- or four-wheel drive. The Sport trim comes standard with a 3.7-liter V-6 with 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque, while the brutish 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 sits on standby as a $2400 option. The Limited model is factory-equipped with the 357-horsepower Hemi V-8, which also provides 389 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is mated to either engine choice, with the Hemi on the receiving end of a special multi-speed unit with an alternate second gear.
While the presence of just two engines makes their selection a relatively simple affair, drivetrain selection might be more complicated. Selecting rear-drive is easy, but there are a total of three available four-wheel drive systems. The most basic four-wheel drive system is the Quadra-Trac I, which comes with a single-speed transfer case and is equipped on four-wheel-drive Sport models. Quadra-Trac II comes with a two-speed active transfer case and is standard on the Limited Trim and Hemi-equipped Sport models. For the hardcore off-road family, the optional Quadra-Drive II provides unparalleled performance with the two-speed transfer case and Electronic Limited-Slip Differential. Both the Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II are Trail Rated systems.
In terms of new features, the 2010 Commander has added more bling. Chromed side molding is standard across the line, while the Limited trim also receives chromed rear exterior assist handles, body-colored fender flares with chromed style bolt heads, and optional 18-in. Casino chrome-clad forged aluminum wheels. A power liftgate and body-colored side mirrors have also made their way onto the Limited model. Exterior color selections include Bright Silver Metallic, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl, Modern Blue Pearl, Stone White, and Inferno Red Crystal Pearl, which replaces Red Rock Crystal Pearl.
Since the Commander is marketed as a family vehicle, the interior has not been neglected. Interior choices are standard fare: cloth or leather with a choice of dark or sand colored fabric. The design won't be winning any awards, but the theater-style seats offer occupants increased forward visibility and comfort. Seven-passenger seating remains an option on the base Sport level. The Commander-specific CommandView Skylights remind the backseat drivers that the outside world is just as important as what's happening inside the cabin. This is a Jeep after all.
While the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee is scheduled to roll out as a 2011 model, the Commander is likely to hang around on its current platform for another couple years, retaining its title as the seven-passenger Jeep.
|2010 Jeep Commander|
|Base Price||$32,355 (Sport 2WD); $34,355 (Sport 4WD); $40,990 (Limited 2WD); $43,610 (Limited 4WD)|
|Vehicle Layout||Front-engine, RWD, 4WD, AWD, 4-door SUV|
|Engine||3.7L/210-hp/235 lb-ft SOHC 12-valve V-6; 5.7L/357-hp/389 lb-ft OHV 16-valve Hemi V-8|
|Curb Weight||4504 to 4976 lb (2WD), 4710 to 5185 lb (4WD) (mfr)|
|Length x Width x Height||188.5 x 74.8 x 72.1 in|
|EPA City/Hwy Fuel Econ||14-15/19-20 mpg|