I describe the short-lived Jeep Commander (2005-2010, designed by Donald A. Renkert) as libertine not because it was the chosen steed for the promiscuous but because it tried to forge its own unique way of creating a very characterful full-size premium 7-seater SUV. Back in 2006 when Jeep first released this very promising all-purpose people mover, it had its short comings but it more than compensated for it with ability and versatility while looking like nothing else on the road. Its duties, in principal, were essentially replaced with the 2011 Dodge Durango. A year later, the exclusive Philippine distributor for Jeep/Dodge/Chrysler, CATS Motors, imported the XH variant powered by the excellent direct injection 72° V6 Mercedes-Benz OM642 3.0-liter dohc 24-valve VGT turbodiesel engine (218 bhp / 376 lb.-ft) built by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria for the export models. A three-row version of the Jeep Cherokee (KL) with slightly altered styling was released exclusively for the Chinese market named the Jeep Grand Commander. Jeep is currently working on the 2021 successor to the Commander for the North American market appropriately named the Jeep Grand Wagoneer which will compete against the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Chevrolet Suburban/Tahoe, GMC Yukon/Yukon Denali, and Cadillac Escalade. There will be a smaller Jeep Wagoneer model too to compete with its direct rivals.
The new Jeep Commander (XK) is the first of the Jeep family to offer standard three-row seating, accommodating up to seven-passengers, however best for 5-adults though for maximum comfort and trunk space. The nimble and rugged genuine 4×4 SUV is engineered to perform as Jeeps are known for with resilience and value. It is also the only SUV in its class to offer two V8 gasoline engines. At first, I was thankful that our test unit sported the spectacular 330 bhp HEMI V8. I looked forward to a very fun week of traveling over a thousand miles in California with my whole family. In truth, the driving experience was as good as I had imagined however I didn’t expect the fuel economy to be so dismal, so much so that after two quick tank-fills, I began to regret the unit request. The Commander may be a modern interpretation of Jeep heritage with a distinctive though still rugged exterior and a very comfortable premium cabin but the upright windscreen (.41 cd drag coefficient), drivetrain, and its sheer heft all contributed to very expensive fuel bills.
Jeep admirably gave a lot of attention to interior details. From the gear shift knob to the four-round gauges in the instrument cluster, the new steering wheel, the fabulous audio system, to the “theater-style” 3-row seating arrangement, the Commander can be described as even quite refined. The Commander is only 37 mm (1.5-inches) longer than the Grand Cherokee (WK), even though it tightly accommodates three rows of seats. Since they share the same Jeep 4×4 system, powertrains, and wheelbase (2780 mm /109.4-inches) the Commander maintains most of the maneuverability and off-road prowess of the Grand Cherokee (34º approach; 27° departure; 20° breakover) with the standard Quadra-Trac II®.
The Commander’s stepped roof provides second and third-row occupants with plenty of headroom complemented by the front moonroof and innovative skylights (complete with shades) over the second row of seats aiding to reduce the feeling of claustrophobia in the modestly sized cabin. About 90% of peak torque is available over a broad powerband from 2,350 to 5,000 rpm so city driving was effortless even with a very full load. The 5.7-liter HEMI engine was fitted with the Multi-Displacement System that deactivates half the cylinders during cruising and light acceleration which is supposed to increase fuel economy but it seemed like our test unit’s system was very lazy to engage the function more often than it did. It did not perform as advertised. On a full tank of the required 89-octane unleaded fuel I couldn’t get beyond 286 miles (458 kilometers) a tankful, and that’s considering that I was cruising at a reasonable 72 mph (115 km/h) for hundreds of miles at a time. For Manila, these figures would be exemplary for a V8 but in the US it’s a huge disappointment.
The Commander has indeed created the positive imagery and romance of the old Grand Wagoneer, and it is an outstanding and characterful vehicle overall. Its rating would have improved considerably if the fuel efficiency was better, if the brakes were stronger, the suspension was recalibrated further for better on-road performance, and if the headlights had an HID option.
|Cylinder Head||ohv 16V|
|Fuel Injector||Sequential Multi-Port Injection, HEMI, MDS|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||330 bhp @ 5000 rpm|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||375 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm|
|Top Speed||210 km/h (130 mph) Governed|
|0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph||7.4 sec.|
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
|Fuel Milage (km/l)||15 mpg City / 19 mpg Highway|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||(2006) US$ 38,900.00|
|What's Great||Energetic, effective stadium seating, well-equipped, comfortable, versatile.|
|What's Not So||Halogen headlights, compromised third-row seating, polarizing design, very thirsty, in 2009 it gained more HEMI power and better standard equipment.|
|C! Editors Rating||8.5/10|