Jeep Commander, 2006-2010 and beyond
The Jeep Commander will continue as an offshore-only model, using the 2006-2010 model year tooling and production facilities in another country. Sergio Marchionne said in December 2009 that it could not be built on the same line as the 2011 Grand Cherokee (which will be accompanied by a Durango replacement), and would instead be built elsewhere, and sold in countries such as (but not definitely) China and Russia.
2010 news: Jeep Commander continued with just two packages, Sport and Limited, and without the 4.7 liter engine; a power liftgate was now standard on Limited. Three exterior colors were dropped. New for 2010, the Hemi was standard on Limited, optional on Sport; Interno Red replaced Red Rock; 18 inch Casino chrome-clad wheels were available on Limited; chromed moldings were standard on both models. Limited got body-color exterior mirrors, chromed rear assist handles, and body-color fender flares.
2009 news: the Hemi engine was upgraded to 357 horses and 389 lb-ft of torque with better mileage. The instrument panel was upgraded to include tire pressure monitoring and fuel saver notification; the rear DVD went to a 9 inch screen; and an iPod interface became available with the nav system. Commander Overland was given auto-levelling HID headlights, optional on Limited; Limited got body-color exterior mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers became optional on some Sport models. Limited got leather-trimmed front seats, with a map pocket on the passenger side (Overland got map pockets on both sides). Wheels changed across the board.
Talking about the Jeep Wrangler: Michael Berube and Don Renkert
According to Jeep’s Michael Berube, the Jeep Commander was the result of a decision to sell a three-rows-of-seats SUV combined with a resolution that “we won’t do anything that doesn’t strengthen the brand.” That meant not just moving to three rows, but also keeping the vehicle small enough to keep snappy cornering and acceleration (“the driving experience is exceptional — we believe it beats all our competitors in excitement”). That (coupled, no doubt, with a desire to minimize costs) led to the decision to keep the wheelbase in place, and to lengthen the vehicle by just about two inches. The three-seat desire expressed by many customers was not for permanent seating, but "in a pinch" flexibility - having to drive home two more kids now and then, or being able to pack the in-laws (or more business associates) in for a quick ride.
Donald A. Renkert, Senior Manager, Jeep Studio, who was the principal stylist for the Commander (as well as the previous and current generation Caravans and at least one of the second-generation Neons) said, “We didn’t want to just take the Grand Cherokee and stretch the wheelbase... Jeep is not about being too big — we’re not an intimidating brand. We don’t want to knock down the trees, we want to fit between them.”
The decision to style the Commander as more boxy than the Grand Cherokee came from the desire to keep its basic dimensions the same. “We said, let’s embrace and celebrate the box. Let’s not think outside the box, let’s build a cooler box.” The windshield, windows, and doors all got straightened, providing considerably more room inside, and giving the Commander more of a visual connection to the military Jeep, Willies wagon, Wagoneer, and Cherokee. Informally, Mr. Renkert said that, while the styling does have some elements in common with Land Rover and the G-Wagon, they did not intentionally make that happen; but once the decision was made to go with the boxy shape, they used those vehicles to justify it in the face of low-end boxy vehicles such as the Scion. (If an $80,000 vehicle can be a box, so can a $40,000 vehicle.) The Commander's box was admittedly well decorated.
Round headlights were used in early prototypes, according to Renkert, though the production model has overlapping round headlights behind a roughly rectangular, transparent frame. Renkert said that the round-headlight version looked good and was very recognizable as a Jeep, but that some felt the Commander needed to have quad headlights due to its price point, and because the less-expensive Grand Cherokee used them. A design was apparently made using two sets of round headlights, echoing the 1960s Wagoneer, but this was not used. As it was, the round headlights could be seen through the plastic. The headlights and grille together with the boxy outline brought up inevitable comparisons to the recent Jeep Cherokee. Renkert said, “We wanted people who saw it for the first time to say, ‘Now, that’s a Jeep.’”
Jeep Commander - engineering and such
Jeep Commander was, in essence, a Grand Cherokee with more features and more seats. The Commander was only two inches longer than the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee, even though it was designed to accommodate three rows of seats. And since they had the same wheelbase (109.5 inches), Commander was as maneuverable and off-road capable as the Grand Cherokee.
The 2006 Jeep Commander would be produced at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) in Detroit, starting in the third quarter of 2005. The Grand Cherokee was assembled at JNAP.
The Commander was styled to resemble past Jeeps, particularly the popular Jeep Cherokee (1984-2001), as well as the Willys station wagons (1946-62) and the Jeep Wagoneer (1963-91), the first four-wheel-drive vehicle with an independent front suspension. The exterior had clear Cherokee styling, while the interior was more Wagoneer.
“The Jeep Cherokee is an authentic, classic shape that is rooted in the public consciousness,” said Donald A. Renkert, Senior Manager, Jeep Studio, Chrysler Group Product Design Office. “By reinterpreting that vehicle, and other classic Jeep vehicles of the past, the Jeep Commander elicited nods of recognition from consumers, even though it is a brand new vehicle. There is a sense of deja vu about the Jeep Commander that brings knowing smiles of satisfaction.”
The two-tone instrument panel was unique to the Commander, though the basic elements were from the Grand Cherokee.
The newly designed seats were supportive and comfortable. And, for the first time in a Jeep vehicle, there were three rows of them, each row slightly higher than the one in front of it. This stadium seating arrangement made forward viewing easier. The second and third row seats folded forward to create a flat load floor. The Jeep Commander’s stepped roof provided second and third row occupants with plenty of head room. Complementing the available front-mounted sun roof were new and innovative skylights (complete with shades) over the second row of seats.
Class-leading off-road capability and on-road refinement were mandatory for the Jeep Commander, which had the same 4x4 systems, suspension and powertrains as the award-winning 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee, including an independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering. Available on Commander were:
- Three full-time four-wheel drive systems, Quadra-Trac I®, Quadra-Trac II® and Quadra-Drive II®
- Two transfer cases offering Brake Traction Control System (BTCS), and Electronic Limited Slip Differentials (ELSD) for best-in-class tractive performance
- Three available engines: the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 with the Multi-Displacement System, the 4.7-liter SOHC Power Tech V-8, and the 3.7-liter SOHC Power Tech V-6 engine
Jeep Commander styling
“The Jeep Commander is a fresh expression of the essence of Jeep design,” said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President, Chrysler Group Design. “It springs from the archetypical Jeep vocabulary, executed in a more architectural and mechanical manner. This vehicle is clearly constructed primarily from the same aesthetic as two classic Jeep icons: the Wrangler and Cherokee.”
The vehicle had a military bearing: upright and rugged. About two inches longer and nearly four inches taller than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Commander was imposing without being intimidating. “We wanted to do sort of the pure Jeep...we’ve recreated the quintessential Jeep,” said Renkert. “We wanted it to look constructed instead of styled.” The Wrangler contributed round headlamps (behind squarish enclosures), beveled edges, and the clamshell hood. Fender flares were bolted on with visible chrome bolts. Most surfaces had beveled edges (which helped aerodyanmics). The mirrors didn’t look it, but they were actually aerodynamically efficient.
There were two models: Commander and Commander Limited. Standard on both models was the signature Jeep seven-slot grille: body color on Commander, and chrome on the Limited. The grille was anchored at both ends by distinctive headlamp assemblies. The stacked headlamps were circular and truncated flat across the bottom with detailed parabolas. Simulated Allen head bolts in the headlamp module contributed to the feeling of precise construction. The technical look was repeated in the taillamps as well.
Constructed of aluminum, the hood extended to the Commander’s upright windshield. Also upright were the backlite and liftgate at the rear end of the vehicle. Completing the Commander’s stance were its more vertical body sides and upright side glass. The front and rear doors featured bright chrome body side moldings incised with the word, “COMMANDER.”
Form followed function in the design of the stepped roof. Beginning over the second row, the roof was raised 3.15 inches to provide more headroom for occupants in the second and third rows. While clearly evident from outside the front of the vehicle, the stepped roof was most appreciated from inside the Commander. Viewed from either side, the stepped effect was concealed by a newly designed roof rack rail, standard on all models. The rack’s crossbar stanchions were similar to a buttress-style bridge support, and each side rail had three integrated tie-downs.
Exclusive to the Limited were D-pillar assist handles that extended from the roof rail on down the back of the vehicle. The handles were black with chrome inserts in the grip area. The assist handles worked in conjunction with the black textured (non-skid) step pad to help people gain access to the Commander’s roof.
In a twist, the rear washer was actually hidden from view inside the rear brakelight.
Triple rows of Jeep Commander seats; interior styling
Commander was the first Jeep vehicle with three rows of seats. Arranged in stadium style, each row was higher than the one in front of it, providing second- and third-row passengers with enhanced forward visibility.
The seats were broad-shouldered, giving them an air of formality; seats were firmer than the Grand Cherokee’s, with dual-density foam for support. The Commander model featured cloth, with optional leather available. The standard seats on the Limited model were leather. All outboard seats had head restraints. The seats were firm and designed to provide optimal comfort during long highway miles and off-road adventures. The second row split 40-20-40 and the seat backs recline. The third row split 50-50. Both rows folded forward to provide a flat load floor for maximum utility.
While the rear seats were easy to fold out of the way (with headrests that automatically fold to allow the seats to bend and pull-straps easily accessible from the rear), they were not especially comfortable to sit in, being only as far off the ground as their cushion height — not unlike the third row of seats on the Land Cruiser, but facing forward and being far easier to move into place or back away again than on the massive Toyota. Legroom for the middle and rear seats was adequate but not generous, as one would expect. Adults could fit in the rearmost row, but it was designed for occasional use. Children, if they occupied that area, would be happy with the climate control vents for each row.
Additional utility was provided via the L-shaped storage bin located in the load floor behind the third row seats. The top panel of the bin was removable and reversible. One side of the panel was carpeted and level with the third row of seats. The opposite side was molded-in plastic with a diamond plate texture, designed to stand up to the dirty gear an active lifestyle often generates. Under the bin were provisions for storing the jack and tools.
Jeep Commander was the first Chrysler Group vehicle with Command-View skylights. Located in the roof above the second row, these two fixed, tinted glass skylights are packaged with the available power sun-roof that was positioned above the front passengers. Each Command-View skylight had a roller shade that could be pulled horizontally to block out light when desired. Because the roller shades were used instead of traditional sliders, the skylights could be placed much farther forward and be wider, which gave a feeling of spaciousness for the driver as well as the passengers. An optional DVD player was located between the skylights.
The two-tone color scheme on Commander’s instrument panel and interior trim exemplified the vehicle’s attention to interior detail. The upper instrument panel was new, with 16 Allen head bolts contributing to the mechanical, constructed look of the vehicle. (Nearly all the bolts were functional - they held the panel in.) The gauge cluster itself was a carryover from the Grand Cherokee. The instrument panel was supposed to be based on the original military Jeeps.
Inside, circular elements prevailed: The new gear shift knob of the gated shifter was round, as were the eight air vents, the steering wheel pad, the interior door handles, the grilles that conceal the door speakers and the four gauges in the simple and purposeful instrument cluster. A new JEEP medallion dominated the center of the steering wheel and shift knob, with an Allen head bolt design - round, of course - providing additional interest.
The 545RFE, used with the 4.7-liter V-8 and 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI, had been refined for higher-quality shifts while giving Commander class-leading towing capacity of 7,200 lbs., equal to that of the Grand Cherokee. The Mercedes five-speed built by Chrysler was used with the V6. Both transmissions featured Electronic Range Select (ERS) driver interactive shift control. The shifter provided fully automated shifting when in the “drive” position. Or the driver could manually select each gear by simply moving the shifter left and right from the “drive” position.
An off-road group was available with Commander that included a stamped steel transfer case skid plate that mounted to the transmission cross member, a fuel tank skid plate that provided off-road protection to the transfer case and all-terrain tires.
Safety and security features of the Jeep Commander
The all-new 2006 Jeep® Commander included the highest level of safety and security technology and features ever offered on a Chrysler Group vehicle. Commander had available side air bags with electronic roll mitigation and standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP). These were only some of the many safety and security features - designed in from the beginning - that provided the Jeep Commander the ability to “go anywhere, do anything” safely.
“Through a broad range of engineering technologies, the Chrysler Group is offering customers peace-of-mind with more standard safety equipment,” said Eric Ridenour, Executive Vice President Product Development, Chrysler Group. “While driving on- or off-road, both passive and active safety systems enhance the inherent stability and safety we design in to all Chrysler Group vehicles.”
Jeep Commander Standard Safety and Security Equipment:
• Advanced Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS)
• Advanced Multi-stage Air Bags
• All-Speed Traction Control System (TCS)
• Child Seat Anchor System
• Digressive Load Limiting Seat Belt Retractors
• Electronic Roll Mitigation
• Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
• Emergency Brake Assist (when it senses a panic stop, it increases its pressure boost)
• Energy Absorbing Steering Wheel and Column
• Enhanced Accident Response System
• Headrests in all Outboard Seating Positions
• Knee Bolsters
• LATCH-Ready Child Seat Anchor System
• Front-seat airbag suppression when children are in the seat
• Occupant Classification System (OCS)
• Parksense Rear Back-up Detection System
• Seat Belt Pretensioners
• Sentry Key Theft Deterrent System
• Remote Keyless Entry
• Three-Point Belts in All Outboard Seating Positions
• Tire Pressure Monitor and Warning Signal
Optional Safety and Security Equipment:
• Extended Up-Time Side Curtain Air Bags for All Three Rows (this means they stay active longer during a rollover)
• Navigation System
• Security Alarm
• SmartBeam® Headlamps
• Uconnect™ Hands-Free Communication
Available side curtain air bags extended additional protection to outboard passengers in all three rows of seats. The system worked in combination with the Chrysler Group’s all-new electronic roll mitigation system, introduced for the first time on the 2006 Commander. It deployed the air bags in certain rollover scenarios, as well as side impact events, and utilized multiple sensors to determine the severity of the impact.
Advanced frontal multi-stage air bags with an Occupant Classification System (OCS) for the front passenger were standard on the Jeep Commander. This system classified the severity of an impact event and used additional sensor information to further modify front passenger air bag output based on occupant size and weight. The resulting deployment could be low, medium or high output, or - in certain instances - none at all. However, even with this advanced system designed to meet government requirements, all occupants were advised to always sit properly in their seat with the seat belt fastened. Children 12 and under should always be seated in a back seat correctly using an infant or child restraint system or have the seat belt positioned correctly for the child’s age and weight.
State-of-the-art energy management features in the body structure and chassis worked in conjunction with air bag and seat belt systems. Front seat belts were equipped with belt pretensioners and digressive load limiting retractors. Pretensioners tightened the seat belt to help keep the occupant in place, while digressive load limiting retractors balanced the load on the upper body, reducing injuries from seat belt forces. Head restraints were standard in all outboard seating positions. The driver’s side of the Jeep Commander was also equipped with BeltAlert, an enhanced seat belt reminder system that periodically activated a chime and illuminates a light in the instrument cluster to remind the driver to buckle up.
Also, standard Emergency Brake Assist notified the active brake booster electronically of the need for increased brake output, providing minimal stopping distances in emergency situations.
Crash Avoidance Features
To optimize overall driving performance, the Jeep Commander came standard with ESP. This system enhanced driver control and helped maintain directional stability under all conditions. It provided the greatest benefit in accident avoidance driving situations and was especially valuable when driving on mixed surface conditions, such as patchy snow, ice or gravel. If there was a discernible difference between what the driver asked through the steering and the vehicle’s path, ESP applied selective braking and throttle input to put the vehicle back onto the driver’s intended path. The system was calibrated to offer safe control of the Commander under a variety of conditions, and to operate in a manner that was not intrusive in normal or spirited driving. Electronic Stability Program would be standard on all Chrysler Group SUVs in 2006 in the United States.
Complementing ESP was an electronic roll mitigation system that observes and monitors the vehicle roll attitude and lateral force to estimate the potential for a rollover situation. If necessary, the engine torque was reduced and a short burst of full braking was applied to the appropriate wheel to help stabilize the vehicle attitude and reduce the vehicle’s lateral force. This system anticipated and took steps to avoid a potential rollover situation.
These systems built on the Chrysler Group’s electronic chassis controls which included advanced Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) and an All-Speed Traction Control System (TCS). Advanced ABS helped to keep the vehicle straight while retaining steering capability when braking on slippery surfaces by preventing wheel lock-up. It benefitted from state-of-the-art electronics that provided a more refined system response than in the past.
All-Speed TCS enhanced mobility and prevented wheel slip when accelerating on slippery surfaces. It also provided a measure of directional stability control, a clear advancement beyond prior traction control systems. In addition to the brake engagement at low speeds used by conventional traction control systems, All-Speed TCS used throttle control as well. This made the vehicle less reliant on brake application alone to maintain traction, increased the operating speed range, and more closely modulated speed and acceleration to provide smoother operation. With All-Speed TCS reducing engine torque when accelerating, it was possible to achieve almost seamless torque application at the wheels for the best acceleration given the surface. All-Speed TCS also benefitted from state-of-the-art electronics that provided a much more refined system response than in the past.
In addition to the long list of standard safety and security features for Jeep Commander, tire pressure monitoring and alarm system, ParkSense™, (rear object-detection system), Uconnect™ hands-free communications, DVD-based navigation system and SmartBeam® headlamps were available to offer the latest innovations on the road.
Car review / test drive
|Body Style||Four-door sport-utility vehicle with Steel Uniframe® construction|
|Assembly Plant||Jefferson Avenue North, Detroit, USA|
|Availability||Standard on 4 x 4 models with 3.7-liter and 4.7-liter engines|
|Ring Gear Diameter||7.9 in. (200mm)|
|Axle Ratios||3.07:1 – 3.7-liter engine 3.73:1 – 4.7-liter engine|
|Differential Type||Electronic Limited Slip Differentials (ELSD)|
|Availability||Optional on 4 x 4 models with NV245 Transfer Case, optional with 5.7-liter engine (Quadra-Drive II)|
|Ring Gear Diameter||Same as standard|
|Axle Ratios||3.73:1 – 4.7-liter and 5.7-liter engine|
|Standard on all but Hemi. Ring gear diameter 8.3 in. (213mm). Axle ratios:
3.07:1 – 3.7-liter V-6 engine 3.73:1 – 4.7-liter V-8 engine
|Optional on 4 x 2 models; same ring gear and axle ratios as standard|
|Standard on Hemi, optional with 4.7 and 4x4 models with Quadra-Drive II. Same ring gear and axle ratios as standard.|
|Alternator||160-amp (all engines except diesel)|
|Battery||Group 65 maintenance-free 750CCA|
DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
|Track (front and rear)||62.6 (1589)|
|Overall Length||188.5 (4787)|
(width at mirrors)
|Body Width||74.8 (1899.5)|
|Overall Height||71.9 (1825.7)|
|Load Floor Height||36.2 (920.3)|
|Sill Step Height||19.9 (504.9)|
Chassis (Fuel tank)
|Ramp Breakover Angle||20º|
|Frontal Area||32.1 sq. ft. (3.0 sq. m)|
|Aero||13.3 (Cd x Cross Sectional Area)|
|Fuel tank capacity||20.5 gal. (77.6-liter)|
|Front head room||42.1 (1070)|
|Front leg room||41.7 (1058)|
|Front shoulder room||59.0 (1500)|
|Front hip room||55.6 (1412)
|Front seat travel||10.5 driver, 9.8 passenger|
|Front SAE volume||68.5 cu. ft. (1.94 cu. m)
|Second row seats||40.2 headroom, 36.1 legroom, 58.5 shoulder, 54.0 hip, 1.8 knee, 36.3 cu. ft.|
|Rear head room||35.7 (907.6)|
|Rear leg room||28.9 (734.0)|
|Rear shoulder room||50.4 (1280.8)|
|Rear hip room||57.4 (1458.5)|
|Rear knee Clearance||1.44 (36.6)|
|SAE volume||8.0 cu. ft. (0.23 cu. m)|
|Cargo Volume|| Behind 3rd Row Seat 6.0 cu. ft. (0.17 cu. m)
Behind 2nd row seats with 3rd seat folded 36.4 cu. ft. (1.03 cu. m)
Behind front row with 2nd and 3rd seat folded 68.7 cu. ft. (1.95 cu. m)
|Front||Short/long independent (SLA), coil springs, gas-charged, twin-tube coil over shock absorbers, upper and lower control arms (“A” arms), stabilizer bar|
|Rear||Live axle, link coil-with track bar, gas-charged twin tube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar|
|Overall ratio||17:4:1 on center, 15:45:1 at full lock|
|Turning diameter||36.8 ft (11.2 m)|
|Steering turns (lock-to-lock)||3.14|
|Size and Type||12.9 x 1.2 (328 x 30) vented disc with 1.89 (48) two-piston pin-slider caliper and ABS|
|Swept Area||272 sq. in. (1820 sq cm)|
|Size and Type||12.6 x 0.55 (320 x 14) disc with 1.89 (48) single-piston pin-slider caliper and single-|
|Swept Area||256 sq. in. (1658 sq cm)|
|Power Assist Type||Single-rate, tandem diaphragm vacuum|
|Wheels||Cast Aluminum, Chrome-Clad Aluminum; 17 X 7.5 in|
2007 changes to the Jeep Commander
Commander was split into two models, Sport and Overland (leather and power everything, real wood, different wheels, and January 2007 introduction). There were new colors, a power liftgate, and:
- Body color matching door handles on Commander Sport
- Front tow hooks
- Bodyside moldings with platinum finish
- Front fascia with platinum finish appliqué
- Wire lattice grille with platinum finish surround
- Overland liftgate badge
- Platinum finish on roof rack side rails
- Outside mirrors with matching body color
- Liftgate license brow with platinum finish
- D-pillar appliqué/handle with platinum finish
- Matching interior color cup holders
- Body color door handles—Commander Sport
- Diamond plate pattern console shifter bezel—Commander Sport
- 4.7-liter V-8 Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) (not available in ME, NY, VT, CT, CA)
- Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) and Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) standard on 3.7-liter engine
- Quadra-Trac I® Standard on V-6 4WD
- Quadra-Trac II® Standard on 5.7-liter 4WD (late availability)
- Quadra-Drive II® optional on 5.7-liter engine
- Remote start
- ParkView™ Rear Back-up Camera
- Active turn signals—“Three-blink Lane Change”