By KBB.com Editors
Jeep purists never got over the loss of the original Cherokee, so it's no surprise Jeep's new Commander bears a striking resemblance to the former's beloved and boxy design. Unlike the old Cherokee, the Commander offers far better interior accommodations that include a third-row seat. The Commander is Jeep's largest SUV to date and, although it shares much of its chassis and suspension with the Grand Cherokee (as well as the availability of a HEMI V8 engine), the two will never be mistaken for each other. While the Commander doesn't offer the same interior space as a full-sized Chevrolet Tahoe or even Dodge Durango, it should suit most families looking for a workable combination of comfort, power and superior off-road ability.
This is the SUV for you if you like the bolted-together industrial look, combined with seven-passenger capacity, and have an occasional desire for serious off-road capability. If you covet Jeep's tough "Trail Rated" image and reputation in a quiet, fully-equipped, leather-lined cabin, you'll like the Commander all the more.
If your SUV needs are more about fashion than function, and/or your driving preferences are more attuned to on-road ride and handling than off-road aptitude, this may not be the car for you. There are sleeker, less expensive and more fuel-efficient SUV and crossover wagon choices available to get you around town.
A new trim level, the Overland, joins the Sport and Limited models. A new 4.7-liter Flexible Fuel V8 is available, as is a power rear liftgate.
Driving Impressions The standard 3.7-liter V6 is adequate on- or off-road with light passenger and cargo loads, but would be underpowered with heavier loads or at higher altitudes. Steering is nicely weighted...and fairly precise, while the on-road ride is surprisingly quiet and smooth. Braking is strong and fade-free. The 4.7-liter V8 delivers good torque, is a better performer and hauler and is recommended for its power/price/economy balanceunless you feel a need for the slightly more economical V6, or for the hot-rod HEMI V8, which is delightfully smooth and powerful at any speed.
HEMI V8 Engine
This smooth and muscular powerplant, named for its '50s high-performance ancestors, is an always-eager sweetheart, electronically tethered to your throttle foot. Despite its size, power and simple OHV (pushrod) valvetrain, it delivers a respectable 14-miles per gallon EPA city and 19-miles per gallon highway rating, due to its Multi Displacement System (MDS), which transparently disables four of its eight cylinders at light loads to conserve fuel.
Quadra-Drive II Active Full-Time Four-Wheel Drive
Jeep's most advanced four-wheel drive technology, QD II uses front and rear Electronic Slip Differentials (ELSDs) to transfer up to all available torque to any individual wheel with traction. Standard with the HEMI V8 and available with the other two engines, it is as capable in difficult conditions as any system on or off the road.
Jeep's first three-row vehicle provides good two-row room, but we wouldn't want to spend much time in that way-back third row with just 28.9 inches of legroom and 35.7 inches of headroom. Behind it are grocery hooks and a bin with a clever three-way lid, but little cargo capacity with the seatbacks up. Echoing the exterior's "bold, rugged, constructed" theme, the base Commander cabin has cloth seats and a nicely textured upper dash. Sixteen Allen-head screws retain eight large, round air vents, while simulated Allen heads encircle the gearshift knob and steering wheel hub. The second row splits 40/20/40, the third row 50/50, and both fold flat for cargo.Exterior
While the Commander's shape is cinder-block blunt, much wind-tunnel effort has been devoted to reducing aerodynamic drag for fuel efficiency and interior quietness. The big, blocky outside mirrors, for example, are virtually invisible to the wind, according to the vehicle's chief designer. The roof is raised 3.15 inches, with the upturn beginning over the second row to provide more headroom. The roof-rack stanchions resemble buttress-style bridge supports, and five large simulated Allen screws appear to hold on each trapezoidal fender flare. The uplevel Limited wears chrome on its signature seven-slot grille, front fascia, body-side moldings, roof-rail crossbars and the two large liftgate grab handles that assist access to rooftop cargo.
The base Commander boasts 17-inch cast aluminum wheels, power front windows, heated power mirrors, eight-way power driver's seat, air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD six-speaker audio and rear park assist. Its standard safety package, Chrysler's most comprehensive yet, includes multi-stage front and three-row side-curtain airbags, tire pressure monitoring and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with "Roll Mitigation" that senses an impending roll-over and works to prevent it. The loaded Limited adds leather seats with heated fronts and a four-way power passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear heating and air conditioning, power-adjustable pedals, six-disc CD/MP3 changer, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, power flip-up liftgate glass, power moonroof and twin tinted second-row skylights.
Available options include the Overland trim, which adds a 5.7-liter HEMI engine, 18-inch wheels, platinum finish trim and grille work and suede seats with Overland embroidery. Other options include chrome wheels, an engine block heater, navigation system, ParkView rear backup camera, power rear liftgate, UConnect hands-free communication, rear heating and air conditioning, rear-seat DVD, "Saddle Brown" seating surfaces and a "popular equipment group" that includes heated front seats, power adjustable pedals and adjustable roof-rail cross bars. Four-wheel-drive choices include Quadra-Trac I (V6 model), Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II.
Chrysler's modern HEMI V8 gets all the attention, but it is costly and, despite the best efforts of its fuel-saving MDS, less fuel-efficient than its more affordable stablemates. Potential buyers should test drive and consider the more frugal V6 or the mid-range V8, depending upon their anticipated towing and hauling needs. The HEMI is more glamorous and more fun when you tickle its throttle, but you don't need 330 horses to cruise around town on level ground.
210 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
235 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/20 (2WD), 16/19 (4WD)
235 horsepower @ 4500 rpm
305 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/19 (2WD Gasoline), 14/18 (4WD Gasoline), 15/19 (2WD E85), 14/18 (4WD E85)
5.7-liter V8 HEMI
330 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
375 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/19 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD)
By jmiller2120 (IN) on Thursday, June 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 117,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Gas mileage is the only thing that I am not very fond of. However, it feels safe and the ride is great."
By Sam (WI) on Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 154,131overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ton of Power, Fun to Drive, Very comfortable"
Cons: "Low Gas Mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had this car for 6 years, and it has 154,131 miles on it and runs great! I have fun driving it everyday with its 5.7l hemi. It has never broke down on me, with only minimal maintanence. It works great in the snow, and towing boats, trailers, etc is easy. It has good room in the front but not as much in the back, but I am always comfortable. Only drawback in my eyes is the low gas milage, I have been getting about 14.2 mpg. Since I have the Hemi, it gets expensive having to pay for the 89 octane gas. It is also is great off roading. I would recomend this vehicle to anyone with kids, that also wants to have a little fun when they drive."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Krissy (GA) on Tuesday, April 02, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Rode well, when it worked."
Cons: "TOO MANY TO LIST!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Stay FAR away from any of these you see. Nothing but problems from the day we bought it. Paid off in October, engine blows in March. Chrysler refuses to honor the LIFETIME power train warranty so I am getting $1000 for a car I paid $24000 five years ago. Do not buy one of these."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Chris on Thursday, March 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price,great to drive,reliable,comfortable."
Cons: "Plastic tpe dash and door panels."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"First of all,cannot answer for anyone else but this car has ALWAYS been reliable,never failed,never got stuck anywhere.Always starts 1st time takes me anywhere without issue no matter the miles.I think gas economy for a 3.7 large SUV is fair/good.BEWARE this model with sunroofs,do some research as they were notorious for leaking and dealerships notorious for not fixing them correctly.I chose not to have any sunroof's therefore no problems.This vehicle is well laid out with plenty of comfortable seating.Everything works and has never had to replaced out of pocket or recall.Didnt opt for leather,(wanted it but...),leather was of poor quality.Napa Leather as advertised?Not a chance and that was after looking at 9 vehicles prior to buying mine.Some people dont care much for the shape/design of the Commander,likely not a Jeep person as Jeeps are definitely unique vehicles.Have found these are an easy vehicle to lift,BUT NOT MORE THAN 2 1/2" as it can cause steering problems that are costly.Can put upto 31's(tires)on it with a lift. Back to the Commander!!!!!!Great 5 door vehicle with a 7 seat option and rear air/heat (one option I wanted),smooth and quiet to drive....later models have electronic ignition key,plenty of legroom front and rear for adults,plenty of carrying space when third row of seats are down.In closing..........will keep this vehicle until the wheels fall off,as it is that reliable in rain/snow and holds highway speeds well and without effort."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By kl (TX) on Friday, January 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, sexy, tough, lots of room"
Cons: "blind spots, little leg room in backseat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love driving this vehicle. It's easy to manuever and a dream to park as an SUV. The gas milage is a little low, but good for a vehicle of its size. Only downside is little leg room in the back seat and difficulty seeing over the backseat when trying to change lanes, as the back seat is raised significantly. Otherwise, I love this truck - owned it for 3 years."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Wildbirdlover (MN) on Thursday, December 27, 2012
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,100overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles beautifully and is predictable."
Cons: "Steering wheel does not tilt up higher."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned 3 Jeeps over 15 years and will never own anything but a Jeep in the future. I have had Grand Cherokees w/ all the bells/whistles. Each had its own peculiar gremlin in the computer system, but each was worth fighting for and I did win out in the end!! When I bought my '08 Commander w/ most of its bells/whistles, I invested in the extended warrantee, knowing that I had finally found my perfect SUV. The gremlins did not follow me and I would not give up my Commander for anything. As an aside, I am convinced that it saved my life a year ago when I hit a deer in a heavy snow storm in Wisconsin. The vehicle took the full hit up front, not even setting off the airbags. It was a terrifying experience and I do believe that if I had been in any other vehicle, the deer would have breached the windshield and caused horrific damage to the vehicle, yes, but to me more importantly. My only regret is that Jeep no longer makes the Commander and that the one they did make doesn't get better mileage."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful