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 Debbie on Thursday, October 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "tough, well built, everything works --"
Cons: "gas mileage and roominess"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Tough on gas, not real comfortable, u sit up high and the windshield takes some getting use to, but all in all it's a good machine. I've had it 4 years and had no major issues. There was one recall for a brake switch or something, I forget. It was taken care of by a local dealer. It's not real roomy inside unless you put the back seat down but then you lose the back seat! It's quality built as far as I can judge. Men like it more than women! I'm going to trade it soon for something a little more 'feminine' - I think. Maybe when the time comes I won't be able because it has served me well."
9 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By hillbilly on Friday, September 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Cons: "fuel economy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I really like my Commander. It will go anywhere. I live in the country, on gravel roads, go hunting and with radial tires the only time I got stuck it was because i got hung up on snow. Main drawback is fuel economy. I averaged 15-16 MPG. My wife drives nicer and is probably getting around 18 MPG."
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Snowstar on Thursday, July 10, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: repairs repairs repairs
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I purchased my jeep new in 2006. For the first 6 years it was the best vehicle I have ever driven, not only did I love the look but it rode smooth and did amazing in the snow. I had horrible gas mileage but I knew that's what I was getting. Another problem I didn't realize was the lack of rear seat leg run until I had a child and found myself having to adjust the passenger seat everyday so my son's legs weren't squished between the back of the front seat and his car seat. As soon as I hit the the 100,000 mile mark it was one problem after another. Close to 4,000 dollars of repairs have been done in the last 6 months and more problems keep occuring. Struts, sensors, ignition cylinder, etc. I continue to have problems with the lights as well, my headlights/interior lights will randomly just go dark until I switch it to the brights and then they all come back on (very scary while driving). I have had it serviced multiple times and they can't seem to fix the problem. The lights on the dash also have a shortage somewhere, if I drive a long distance and have to have either the headlights or the heat on everything is hot to the touch. Radio controls, volume, menu center will almost burn your finger if you try to adjust something. Again I have had this in many times and they can't seem to get it corrected. Let's just say after driving 70 miles on the highway and having the rear gear unit completely rip apart, suddenly be driving with no lights and having been stranded more than once becaus it just wouldn't start I am finally trading it in!!!"
7 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Jeepgrl on Thursday, July 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am a true Jeep Lover! This was my 4th Jeep- I started with a 76 Honcho then a 94 Cherokee Sport, upgraded to a 98 Grand Cherokee and now this one. I also own a 1976 and a 1978 Jeep CJ5. I purchased this Commander new after it had sat on the lot for over a year. Asking price- $36,000. Because it was an older model I paid only $23,000! This Jeep has been through the worst conditions and never caused me any issues. Regular oil changes and 30,000 and 100,000 mile tune ups and a malfunctioning map sensor is all this engine has ever needed. There were some issues with a few recalls, but those were quickly resolved. I have driven the wheels off this Jeep, literally! A new set of tires ever 2 years. I live in the mountains 55 miles from the nearest town on 10 miles of rut filled roads and driven thousands of highway miles as well. It has pulled out many a car and truck from ditches and muddy pastures, including my husband F350 and even a tractor. We have hauled tons of hay, horse trailers and it can hold an entire middle school vollyball team. The suspension is amazing. Dispite hard use, the shocks are still in perfect working order. I am just now needing to replace the struts. But that was because of hitting ruts so deep that Michael Phelps could do laps in them. It's banged up. I have tossed hay bales on top and on the hood to take to the pasture and hauled as much wood as I could stack in the back and even transported chickens and a goat or 2. The back bumper is about to fall off and I slid off the wet road 6 feet into the ditch and into a steel gate post and dented the underside of the passenger door pretty badly. It's been taken up the side of muddy mountains and driven on the beach. People might look at it and comment about the mud, dirt and damage, but they also say that it looks like a very loved vehicle. It is. I have even camped out in it. A twin mattress fits perfectly in the back with the seats down. I have thought about trading it in or selling it many times, but in the end I would rather spend a few thousand dollars to fix it up again than try and form a bond with any other vehicle. If I were to complain aboout anything it would be the gas mileage. I get about 13mpg driving around here on the farm and average 17-19 on the hwy."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By LJTLK on Saturday, May 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quality,Fun,not too big/bulky, perfect SUV size"
Cons: "gas can get a little pricey if you drive too much"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I'm not looking forward to the day that I trade it in. It's been a really good vehicle. Basic maintenance is all I've had to do to maintain it. This jeep drives like a champ and is especially good in snow. I drove it through 15 inches of snow just to get to work! It's been through several snow storms and a blizzard back in 2008. The only downside is the gas mileage, although I've driven worse! Like the others, I wish they still made them. I am also impressed at the book value it has retained."
9 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Bob on Friday, May 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great handling and very comfortable to drive"
Cons: "Heavy fuel consumption."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I bought a used 2006 Commander with just under 50k miles. It needed new tires and we found that the sunroof was leaking every time it rained. Once I had minor issues repaired, it is a really comfortable vehicle to drive. We live in the Smokey Mountains and I was hesitant about not getting a 4x4. I would definitely recommend getting the 4x4 if there's even an inkling you'll need it. I got stuck in 8" of snow and my minivan made it out fine! The biggest con to this vehicle is the gas consumption - ridiculous (which is why I'm trading it in so soon after purchasing it)."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful