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The editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the 2010 Jeep Commander both on- and off-road and report their overall impression of this rugged vehicle here in a Bottom Line summary. TheCarConnection.com has also surveyed a wide range of reviews and reports here on what other professionals say.
When Jeep introduced the Commander in late 2005 as a 2006 model, SUV buyers weren't too impressed, causing leadership at DaimlerChrysler to gulp, swallow hard, and wonder if the vehicle was worth the investment. The same holds true now; it's a Jeep that seats seven, but it doesn't seem especially well-designed for the shoppers who want that spacious interior. On a positive note, it manages to project authentic Jeep ruggedness—both in styling and trail ability.
Underneath its skin, the 2010 Jeep Commander is closely related to the Grand Cherokee, but on the outside, it introduces a boxier body and a reconfigured interior over similar components. The boxy shape takes after Jeep tradition, especially following the styling cues left off with 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 styles the cabin of the Commander in a straightforward fashion. The squared-off dash houses round gauges that bring the boxiness of the exterior to the vehicle’s interior and tie the styling together.
Performance for the 2010 Jeep Commander is decent, and Jeep brings back last year's newly introduced 5.7-liter HEMI engine making 357 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque. The only other available engine is the base 3.7-liter V-6 (also used in the Liberty) that produces 210 horsepower. However, that's not nearly enough strength for this big Jeep, even with a standard five-speed automatic. The HEMI V-8 features a Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which is supposed to help improve fuel economy. The truth is, the 2010 Jeep Commander still gets lousy mileage regardless of which engine you choose (the 3.7-liter V-6 gets just 15 mpg city). If this alone doesn’t deter you from the Commander, go with the big engine; you won’t get much worse fuel economy but plenty more grunt.
If you're up for off-road adventures, a range of powertrain and underbody/chassis components can make the beefy Commander nearly unstoppable on trails. Three different four-wheel-drive systems are available, including part- and full-time units, and each for different types of off-roading.
When it comes to comfort, the supportive front seats contrast with the conditions in the rear: cramped legroom in the second row and barely usable third-row seats, thanks to virtually non-existent headroom. Children will find it comfortable until they hit a growth spurt. If anybody is sitting in the back, get used to your exterior mirrors, as rearward visibility is virtually nil. Otherwise, interior materials and trims in the Commander are much better than those in cheaper Jeeps, like the Compass and Patriot, but they're nothing to write home about.
Safety features include side curtain airbags, stability control, and anti-lock brakes. Altogether, they add peace of mind to the Jeep's excellent performance in frontal crash tests—five stars in government trials. The Commander, though, has just a three-star rollover rating, thanks to its bulk and height.
Available options include a rearview camera (standard on 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. New developments for 2010 include the axing of the Overland trim level, while the base Sport trim now comes with foglights and third-row seats.