2006 Jeep Commander
This 2006 review is representative of model years 2006 to 2010.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Families who fear a minivan would give them a "domesticated" image shop for sport-utility vehicles with a third-row seat. Surprisingly, considering Jeep's long production of utility vehicles, its 2006 Commander is the first Jeep to have such a seat.
In recent years, a third-row seat has been increasingly wanted by many SUV buyers. Jeep has lost sales because many of its competitors provide such a seat.
Jeep didn't want to put a third seat in its flagship Grand Cherokee SUV because it found that many owners and potential buyers of that vehicle didn't want a third seat. Moreover, Jeep felt such a seat would hurt styling of the Grand Cherokee, which has smoother, more rounded lines than the boxy Commander.
Based on Another Jeep Model
The first Jeep became famous as a tough World War II go-anywhere military vehicle, but Jeep has been making civilian vehicles for longer than most might guess. The first civilian versions of that wartime Jeep were too crude for general use. But Jeep, which was then made by the defunct Willys-Overland auto company, began producing a long-lived 4-wheel station wagon in 1946.
But so what? Coca-Cola hasn't changed the shape of its glass bottle, which seemingly has been around forever, and Porsche hasn't changed the basic shape of its iconic 911 sports car, which was introduced in Europe in 1963.
The Commander has a very upright rear window to provide enough space for two extra passengers, and that helps give it a boxy look. Not that most Jeeps haven't had such a look. Even the old Jeep Grand Wagoneer, which was truly grand in the 1960s and 1970s, was boxy. So was the 1984-2001 Jeep Cherokee, which Jeep says also inspired the Commander.
After Willys-Overland, Jeep's ownership went to American Motors, Chrysler and finally, DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler group. Despite all those ownership changes, Jeep has retained traditional styling elements since that 1946 wagon, which Jeep calls one of the "key sources of inspiration" for the Commander.
Third Seat for Kids
Moreover, the third seat partially obstructs rear vision when its headrests are in place. And it leaves little room for cargo when in its upright position. On the other hand, its seatbacks easily fold forward with the second-row seatbacks to provide a flat-floor cargo area.
A power front sunroof and dual tinted glass skylights with sunshades are offered in the roof above the second seat row to expand the sense of interior roominess.
The $27,290-$38,205 Commander is offered in base and upscale Limited trim levels. It comes with rear- or 4-wheel drive and retains Jeep's off-road prowess.
HEMI V8 Offered
Each V8 has its own 4-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing for rugged off-road use, but such gearing isn't available for the Commander V6.
No Fuel Miser
The V6 provides the best estimated fuel economy: 16 mpg in the city and 20 on highways. The 4.7 V8 delivers 15 and 19, while the HEMI figures are 14 and 18, despite the cylinder shutdown feature.
The engines work with a responsive 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability.
Large outside door handles and openings, nicely shaped interior door handles and grab bars on windshield posts make it easier to get in and out of the moderately high Commander's functional interior. Front seats are supportive, and sound system and climate controls are lit at night to facilitate their use. However, second-row leg room for a tall passenger behind a driver is just adequate.
The hatch is large, but a rather high cargo floor requires extra muscle when loading or unloading heavy items onto the wide, flat cargo floor, which is roomy but not especially deep.
Comfort and Convenience
The Limited offers a plusher interior with leather upholstery and adds a power sunroof, power front passenger seat, heated front seats, rear air conditioning, power adjustable pedals, upgraded sound system and Sirius satellite radio.
Lots of Safety Features
The rear-obstacle detection system will come in handy because a driver can't see what's directly behind the Commander when backing up.
There are plenty of options, including a $1,200 DVD entertainment system and $820 chrome wheels for the Limited.
Many folks won't buy a house unless it has central air conditioning, and many won't consider an SUV without a third-row seat. Well, such a seat is finally offered by Jeep, and it helps make the Commander appealing.