- HEMI power
- Towing capacity
- Off-road capabilities
- Unsettling ride on broken pavement
- Cramped second- and third-row passenger seats
- Limited rear visibility
While not a great people mover, the 2009 Jeep Commander is a trail-capable Jeep.
Whoever gave the green light on the original Jeep Commander project must have been compelled by the thought of advertising a Jeep that could seat seven. But when Jeep introduced the Commander in late 2005 as a 2006 model, SUV buyers yawned, causing leadership at DaimlerChrysler to gulp, swallow hard, and wonder if the vehicle was worth the investment.
The Commander is closely related to the Grand Cherokee mechanically but introduces a boxier body and reconfigured interior over similar components. The boxy shape takes after Jeep tradition, especially following the styling cues left off the last Cherokee, and has a large, muscular appearance, which is what many SUV buyers still want. It also has an instantly recognizable Jeep face, though you may mistake it for a HUMMER, which also sports a seven-slot grille.
Jeep styled the cabin of the Commander in a straightforward fashion. The squared-off dash houses round gauges that bring the angularity of the exterior to the vehicle’s interior.
The comfortable and supportive front seats contradict the cramped legroom of rear seats in the 2009 Jeep Commander. The optional third-row seat suffers a similar lack of legroom made worse by the limited headroom. Children will find it comfortable, until they hit a growth spurt. If anybody is sitting in the way back, get used to your exterior mirrors, as rearward visibility is virtually nil.
Performance for the 2009 Jeep Commander has improved with the introduction of a new 5.7-liter HEMI engine making 357 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque—an 8.2 percent increase in horsepower and a 3.7 percent increase in torque compared to the previous-generation engine.
Other available engines include the base 3.7-liter V-6 (also used in the Liberty) that produces 210 horsepower. However, that's not enough power for this big Jeep, even with a standard five-speed automatic. The larger 4.7-liter V-8 with 305 horsepower is a better choice. Three separate four-wheel-drive systems are available, including part- and full-time units, and each for different types of off-roading. If you're up for off-road adventures, a range of powertrain and underbody/chassis components can make the Commander nearly unstoppable on trails.
The HEMI V-8 features Multi-Displacement System (MDS) technology, which helps improve fuel economy. The truth is, the 2009 Jeep Commander gets lousy mileage regardless of which engine you choose (the 3.7-liter V-6 gets just 14 mpg city). If this alone doesn’t deter you from the Commander, go with the big engine and you won’t get much worse.
Safety features abound and include side curtain airbags, stability control, and anti-lock brakes. These features add peace of mind to the Jeep's excellent performance in frontal crash tests—five stars in government trials. The Commander, though, has a three-star rollover rating.
Available options include a rearview camera (standard on Overland and Limited models), dual Command View skylights over the second row of seats, a MyGIG hard drive media system, Sirius Backseat TV, Boston Acoustics stereo, and a DVD video system with a new nine-inch rear DVD screen.