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Jeep Commander, 2006-2010 and beyond

The Jeep Commander was dropped in 2010, and was at the time slated to continue as an offshore-only model produced in another country, because it could not be built on the same line as the 2011+ Grand Cherokee. This plan appears to have been dropped, with the 2010 Commanders being the last.

2006 jeep commander

Talking about the Jeep Wrangler: Michael Berube and Don Renkert

Jeep Commander test drive

According to Jeep’s Michael Berube, the Jeep Commander was the result of a decision to sell a three-rows-of-seats SUV. 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 or adults now and then.

Don Renkert - Jeep stylistThe Commander was only two inches longer than the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee and was produced on the same assembly lines.

Donald A. Renkert, Senior Manager of the Jeep Studio, who was the principal stylist for the Commander (as well as Dodge Caravans and at least one of the second-generation Neons) said, “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. .. 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 more room inside, and giving the Commander more of a visual connection to past Jeeps. Informally, Mr. Renkert said that, while the styling does have some elements in common with Land Rover and the G-Wagon, that was not intentional, but the pricey SUVs helped justify the boxy shape to executives.

fancy jeep commander headlightsMr. Renkert said they started with round headlights; some, though, felt the Commander needed quad headlights due to its price point. A design was apparently made using two sets of round headlights, echoing the 1960s Wagoneer, but this was not used. Renkert said, “We wanted people who saw it for the first time to say, ‘Now, that’s a Jeep.’ ... We wanted it to look constructed instead of styled.” They used Wrangler-like beveled edges and a clamshell hood, with fender flares bolted on using visible, chromed bolts.

Mr. Renkert said, “The Jeep Cherokee is an authentic, classic shape that is rooted in the public consciousness. 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.”

inside the 2006 jeep commander

Each row of seats was slightly higher than the one in front of it to make forward viewing easier. The second and third row seats folded forward to create a flat load floor.

The Jeep Commander had the same 4x4 systems, suspension, and powertrains as the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee including:

Jeep Commander styling

don renkert - chrysler / jeepTrevor Creed, Senior Vice President of Chrysler Group Design, said the styling “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.”

There were two models: Commander and Commander Limited. The grille was body color on Commander, and chrome on the Limited. The Limited had D-pillar assist handles 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 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 brake light.

Beginning over the second row, the roof was raised 3.15 inches to provide more headroom for occupants in the second and third rows. Viewed from either side, the stepped effect was concealed by a standard roof rack rail. The crossbar stanchions were similar to a buttress-style bridge support, and each side rail had three integrated tie-downs.

Seats were much firmer than the Grand Cherokee’s, with dual-density foam; our initial thought on sitting in the Commander was, “I wonder if the park misses the concrete bench underneath this leather.” Outboard seats had head restraints. The second row split 40-20-40 and the seat backs reclined. The third row split 50-50.

jeep commander car review

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 easier to move into place or back away again. Legroom for the middle and rear seats was adequate but not generous. Adults could fit in the rearmost row, but only for occasional use. Children, if they occupied that area, would be happy with the climate control vents for each row.

inside the 2006 jeep commanderAn L-shaped storage bin was in the load floor behind the third row seats. One side of the bin cover was carpeted and level; the opposite side was molded-in plastic, to stand up to dirty gear. Under the bin were the jack and tools.

Command-View™ skylights above the second row — fixed, tinted glass skylights — were sold with the power sun-roof above the front passengers. Each skylight had a roller shade to block out light when desired. An optional DVD player sat between the skylights.

The upper instrument panel was new, with 16 Allen head bolts (mostly functional) “contributing to the mechanical, constructed look.” The gauge cluster was a carryover from the Grand Cherokee, supposedly inspired by the military Jeeps.

Jeep Commander suv

Performance

See our Grand Cherokee page for engines, four wheel drive system, and suspension.

The 545RFE, used with the V8s, was refined for higher-quality shifts; class-leading towing capacity of 7,200 lbs was equal to that of the Grand Cherokee. The Mercedes five-speed built by Chrysler was used with the V6. Both transmissions used Electronic Range Select (ERS) driver interactive shift control. An off-road group included a steel skid plates and all-terrain tires.

three rows of jeep seats

Safety included optional side air bags and electronic roll mitigation, and standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP); extended up-time side curtain airbags for all rows (they stayed active longer during rollovers); and various other features described in the Grand Cherokee page.

Jeep Commander on the road

This is a condensed version of the full Allpar review:

Jeep Commander car reveiwsRoad noise has been well insulated, while the ride can be a busy but is generally quite good for a Rubicon-ready, off-road-capable truck. Fairly hefty potholes and bumps are handled well, especially in terms of sound: rather than a dull boom or rattle, there is a faraway-sounding noise of the wheel dropping in. The Commander has good road manners, without the wallowing of some trucks that try to make their suspensions soft, though there is some jouncing at times.

Badly rutted roads were handled in stride, though other pavement issues could get in; one particular washboard road, which gives trouble to most cars and trucks (including loss of traction), felt almost smooth in the Commander. Wind noise is practically nonexistent, and engine noise is muffled well.

Jeep Commander seats like WagoneerCornering is surprisingly good, with a feeling of confidence around sharp turns; the big Jeep seems very nimble and confident for such a heavy truck, especially one boasting this much interior comfort and freedom from shock  The tires give audible notice long before grip disappears, but do not squeal excessively or prematurely.

Brakes are strong, as they need to be with the optional Hemi engine, putting out 345 horsepower, albeit with the gas mileage you'd expect to get from an engine of that power - the EPA overestimates it at 15 city, 19 highway, but we couldn't get near that (though we did achieve 15...on the highway). The engine responds instantly under just about any conditions, moving the heavy truck with alacrity but without excess noise. While 0-60 times are not particularly impressive, the instant-on acceleration is attractive. The five-speed automatic transmission helps by downshifting rapidly, yet fairly smoothly; shifts are moderately firm, but not mushy. Our one acceleration-related complaint is the rather sudden tip-in, which is to say that it was rather difficult to gently get just a little more gas while at highway speed. The cruise control is very gentle, but shut it off, and it's hard to avoid small driveline shudders.

Interior space is not much greater than in the Grand Cherokee, but there are three rows of seats; both rear rows fold flat with easy, with the back seats needing only a single lever pull to go from seat to flat floor. Middle-row seating space is neither generous nor cramped, though it gets cramped rather quickly if the automatic seat backup (for the driver, to allow easier exit and entrance) is activated; third-row seats have very little legroom and are clearly for smaller children or short trips. The seats are excessively firm, as though made of concrete covered by leather.

navigation systemGenerally, controls were sensible and easy to use; the wheel-mounted cruise control had buttons in intuitive places, as well as a cancel button, and all were placed within reach of the outside of the wheel. On the back of the wheel were the various audio controls. Both passenger and driver have simple thermostatic vent controls operated by knobs, with the temperature scales always staying in place; the fan has both auto/low and auto/high settings, so you don't have to subject yourself to the maximum possible fan speed just to use the automatic fan setting, while ducting is set by a traditional knob that allows you to pick zones between, say, full lower-vents and bi-level.

Above the climate control is the wonderful, traditional Chrysler information center, with your choice of a thermometer/compass, gas mileage or other vehicle information display, and a menu that lets you set the car's various features, such as automatic headlights (on with rain, staying on after the engine is shut, etc.), locking, and other items that, in the past, had to be set by a dealer or by strange machinations like turn the key on, press the locks, then wait, then press the locks again, etc.

Using sensors in the bumper, which can be a bit high, the car will warn you with yellow LEDs if you are getting close to an object, like another car or a cement wall or a small child. When you get very close, there's an audible warning and red LEDs go on. (The LEDs are mounted in the roof near the rear window so they can be seen when you're backing up, assuming you're looking out the rear window).

three rows of seatsVisibility is aided by strong headlights and big mirrors, and greatly hindered by the headrest of the middle-row seat, which blocks much of the rear quarter - an area few modern cars seem to be able to keep clear. The rear visibility is excellent when the back seats are folded down, and poor when they are up. Large sun visors that can be pulled out on their support rods keep the sun from being too much of a nuisance; as befits a car of this cost, both driver and passenger get mirrors that light when the flap is pulled up.

The storage area is decently sized, and the middle row of seats can fold forward for more space. This is not a particularly large vehicle, despite its appearance, and minivans will swallow up more people and cargo.

Our test vehicle was not the entry-level Commander, but the Limited, which starts at $38,000 — a good deal more than the Grand Cherokee and Hummer H3 (which, by the way, offers similar mileage with 100 less horses), but less than the Land Rover LR3 and Hummer H2. This is a segment where prices are rather high, and you can pay a lot more without getting much more. The Commander is competitive with similarly priced Toyota, Lexus, Land Rover, Ford, and GM vehicles.

Jeep Commander car review / test drive

Specifications

AXLES / DIFFERENTIALS

Front differentials Conventional, standard on 4x4 with V8; optional electronic limited slip on 4x4 with NV245 and Hemi (Quadra-Drive II)
Ring Gear Diameter 7.9 in. (200mm)
Rear Axles Standard differential on all but Hemi. Ring gear diameter 8.3 in. (213mm). Vari-Lock progression differential optional on RWD. Electronic limited slip differential standard on Hemi 4x4, optional on 4.7 4x4 with Quadra-Drive II.
Axle Ratios 3.07:1 – 3.7-liter engine; 3.73:1 –V8 engines

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

Alternator 160-amp (all engines except diesel)
Battery Group 65 maintenance-free 750CCA

DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES

Wheelbase 109.5 (2781)
Track 62.6 (1589) (front and rear)
Length 188.5 (4787)
Overall Width
89 (2261) (width at mirrors)
Body Width 74.8 (1899.5)
Height 71.9 (1825.7)
Ground Clearance 9.9 (250.6) at fuel tank, 9.0 at front axle, 8.6 at rear axle
Angles 34º approach; 27° departure; 20° breakover
Frontal Area 32.1 sq. ft. (3.0 sq. m)
Aero cD (drag coefficient), 0.415; aero, 13.3 (Cd x Cross Sectional Area)
Fuel tank 20.5 gal. (77.6-liter) capactiy
Front seats Head room 42.1, leg room 41.7, shoulder 59.0, hip 55.6; SAE volume 68.5 c.f.
Front seat travel 10.5 driver, 9.8 passenger
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, leg 28.9, shoulder 50.4, hip 57.4, knee 36.6, SAE vol. 8.0 c.f.
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)

SUSPENSION

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
Steering Power rack-and-pinion
Overall ratio 17:4:1 on center, 15:45:1 at full lock
Turning diameter 36.8 ft (11.2 m); 3.14 turns lock-to-lock

BRAKES

Front 12.9 x 1.2 (328 x 30) vented disc with 1.89 (48) two-piston pin-slider caliper and ABS; 272 square inches swept area
Rear 12.6 x 0.55 (320 x 14) disc with 1.89 (48) single-piston pin-slider caliper and single-channel ABS; 256 square inches swept area
Power Assist Type Single-rate, tandem diaphragm vacuum
Wheels Cast Aluminum, Chrome-Clad Aluminum; 17 X 7.5 in

Changes to the Jeep Commander

2007: 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 flex-fuel capable
  • Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) and 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”

2009: the Hemi engine was upgraded to 357 horses and 389 lb-ft of torque with better mileage. The instrument panel added tire pressure monitoring and fuel saver notification; the rear DVD went to a 9 inch screen; and an iPod interface became available.

Commander Overland had 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.

2010: Jeep Commander continued in its final year 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.

Learn more about the Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep Commander test drive

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