By KBB.com Editors
Jeep purists never got over the loss of the original Cherokee, so it's no surprise the 2009 Jeep Commander bears a striking resemblance to the former's beloved and boxy design. Unlike the old Cherokee, the Commander offers far better interior accommodations, including 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), no one will ever mistake the two. While the Commander doesn't offer the same cargo 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, want 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 2009 Jeep 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.
Changes for 2009 include more power and better fuel economy with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, and the addition of tire pressure monitoring system information to the instrument cluster. New options include auto-leveling HID headlamps, rain sensing wipers and new Leather Appearance Package.
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. Compared to the only slightly more economical V6, the 4.7-liter V8 delivers considerably more torque and horsepower, is a much better performer and hauler and is recommended for its superior balance of power, price and fuel economy. The hot-rod HEMI V8 is delightfully smooth and powerful at any speed, as you would expect. Given its hefty weight and high center of gravity, on-road cornering is not the Commander's forte, but truly impressive off-road capability is. Also impressive are the Limited's leather- and woodgrain-trimmed interior and ultra-comfortable front bucket seats.
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 EPA fuel economy ratings of 14 miles per gallon city and 20 miles per gallon highway, 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, Quadra-Drive 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, either 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 2009 Jeep Commander Sport boasts a 3.7-liter V6 engine, Quadra-Trac 1 (4x4 models), 17-inch machined-face wheels with painted pockets, power front windows, heated power mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD six-speaker audio and rear park assist. Its standard safety package 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 a 4.7-liter V8 engine, leather seats with heated fronts and a four-way power passenger's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear heating and air conditioning, power-adjustable pedals, CD/DVD/HDD/MP3 player with gps touchscreen, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, power flip-up liftgate glass, power sun roof, ParkView rear back-up camera 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 driver's eight-way and passenger's four-way power seats, an engine block heater, 20G hard drive audio and navigation system, ParkView rear backup camera, auto-leveling HID headlights, rain sensing wipers, power rear liftgate, uconnect hands-free communication, rear heating and air conditioning, rear-seat DVD with nine-inch screen, "Saddle Brown" seating surfaces and a "popular equipment group" that includes heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals and adjustable roof-rail crossbars. 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 357 horses to cruise around town on level ground.
210 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
235 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD)
305 horsepower @ 5650 rpm
334 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3950 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/19 (2WD, gasoline), 13/18 (4WD, gasoline), 9/13 (2WD, E85), 9/12 (4WD, E85)
5.7-liter V8 HEMI
357 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
389 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4350 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 13/19 (4WD)
By Josie on Wednesday, March 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 118,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Wicked Good Looks, Snazzy get up and Go!"
Cons: "Common Tranny Issues, Not for off-roading"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love my Jeep Commander, Nick Named Militia Prime. She has gotten me through some tough weather and I can pack a lot of kids/ adults into the back. Despite being a Jeep, she isn't 100% best for off-roading; being over 5k lbs doesn't help. Had issues with the Tranny, but a fluid change later and it was perfect again. One of the few complains I have is the Driver seat padding gets thin quickly on the left side. Also the Passenger front seat belt is ridiculously short! I bought an extender for the later issue. I recommend to the Momma who Doesn't want to look like a soccer-mom. Comfortable, fun and reliable. Like all Jeeps ;)"
By Jim on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 79,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Took a lickin and keeps on ticken"
Cons: "Gas milage and seat stains"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I have owned this SUV for 5years/50,000 miles and have several observations. First off, immediately after purchasing my family and I survived a 55mph collision without more than soft tissue damage. It has been rebuilt and driven w/o issue since. A rugged SUV! Thats the good. Now my issues: Gas milage V-6 is consistently 16-18 mpg with a soft foot. Driver blind spots due to stadium seating, adults sit to high in back stadium seat and can't see out, Think car sick!. Starter sits exposed to road salt and has been replaced 3 times The dealer told me this issue. The cloth seats permanently stain when exposed to moisture, very loaded with plastic inside and out, steering is sensitive with a high CG and scary for inexperienced drivers. Not my teenaged drivers favorite vehicle."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Martin on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 82,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car from a friend who took care of it pretty well since 2007. It has been my favorite car I've owned in the last 14 years! It handles extremely well in the Midwest snow (I have the 4x4 with SmartTrac technology) then in the summer it maintains a classy look. I can take it to business meetings, hunting trips, road trips and pull my boat and it rises to the occasion for all events! The V-6 isn't real powerful and my boat is small so I don't know if I would recommend the V-6 for hauling a lot of weight. Very happy with the Jeep!"
By Radar on Sunday, February 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price initially very high ($44K), but $15K KBB now"
Cons: "Can carry 7 people, too big for us now..."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The multi-displacement "Hemi" (5.7L V-8) has operated flawlessly since I bought in 2006. This Jeep "can pass anything but a gas station"... 50,000 hard miles in AK and this Jeep is one of the best on ice and snow, with anti-skid and adaptive traction control that even beginners can't fool. Despite the initial Jeep Commander we had for only one day (it stopped running and failed to restart), and widespread reports of computer glitches and Quadra-drive issues in this model, mine has not had any problems. I did just replace the front differential mounts and bushings and a 4WD lock-pin solenoid, but I have driven her pretty hard..."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Dine on Sunday, December 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "sits up high, roomy, dependable, plows snow!!"
Cons: "gas mileage & the 3rd row seat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this vehicle in 2008. It had one prior owner. I've now had this worked on twice. That was for hydraulic fluid leaking and also a worn tie-rod, which really wasn't that worn to begin with!! It starts all the time even up here in Maine cold winters. We have taken her for several road trips, comfortable as well. The only draw back would be the gas mileage. I get about 16mpg intown and 22 highway. She does better then my old Durango, but she is a heavy vehicle and uses gas!. This vehicle weighs more than a Hummer!!"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By mgonzalo on Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 109,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "VERY COMFORTABLE, GREAT OFF ROADING & IN CITY"
Cons: "VERY MILITARY LIKE INSIDE, NOT A LEXUS."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"WE LOVE OUR COMMANDER LTD. WE MOVED TO FROM COLORADO TO HAWAII AND CONTEMPLATED ON WHICH CAR TO BRING WITH US: BMW 530XI OR JEEP COMMANDER LIMITED....WE CHOSE THE JEEP BECAUSE WE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE PERFECT TO HAUL SURFBOARDS, KAYAKS, BIKES AND GUESTS WHO CAME TO VISIT (SEATS 7)..IT HAS DONE ALL THE ABOVE BRILLIANTLY. WE LOVE IT!! BUT NOW, ITS VEHICLE REGISTRATION RENEWAL TIME, AND DID NOT KNOW THAT IN HAWAII, YOU PAY PER WEIGHT OF CAR, NOT COST!! SO THE DOWNSIDE OF OWNING AN SUV HERE IS THAT YOU WILL PAY 4X MORE THAN IN OTHER STATES!! UGH...SO WE ARE THINKING OF SELLING IT TO BUY A SMALLER, GAS EFFICIENT CAR LIKE A PRIUS.....BUT IF YOU DON'T LIVE IN HAWAII, THAN YES, I RECOMMEND THE COMMANDER!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful