Shopping for a new Jeep Commander?
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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Superior off-road ability
Kelley Blue Book
Helped by an alert automatic transmission, the V6 has surprising spirit
Capable not only off-road, but on highways and byways, too
Poor fuel mileage with the larger engines
Its off-road prowess is a force to be reckoned with, and it tows a stout 7,400 pounds
The 2008 Jeep Commander offers different engine options as well as other drivetrain options that control which wheels transfer power to the ground. TheCarConnection.com finds its on-road performance to be decent, but off-road is where it really shines.
For Jeep, 2008 sees three different engines offered in the Jeep Commander. The smallest of the three is a 3.7-liter V-6, which produces 210 horsepower at 5,200 rpm. A step up from that is a 4.7-liter V-8, which makes 305 horsepower at 5,650 rpm. Also offered is Chrysler's popular 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, which cranks out 330 horsepower at 5,000 rpm. All engine specs come courtesy of Kelley Blue Book.
Opinions of the V-6 are mixed; Edmunds writes, "The base Jeep Commander Sport gets its pep from a standard 3.7-liter V-6; while this engine is a decent source of motivation in smaller Jeeps, it's barely adequate in the 4,800-pound Commander." ConsumerGuide takes a more positive view, reporting, "Helped by an alert automatic transmission, the V6 has surprising spirit, with adequate power off the line and around town," but also acknowledging that it "labors in highway passing and merging." The Jeep Commander, 2008 edition, is available with a significantly improved version of last year's 4.7-liter V-8, which boasts 70 more horsepower than its predecessor, according to Edmunds, who describe it as "accelerating easily to highway speeds, with smooth, linear power and a burly exhaust sound well into the upper revs." However, ConsumerGuide calls this powerplant "notably less refined than the V-6 or 5.7-liter V-8." The Jeep Commander can also be had with the aforementioned 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, which adds 25 horsepower and 41 pound-feet of torque.
ConsumerGuide notes that all engines "team with a 5-speed automatic transmission." Cars.com writes, "It shifts quite early in most situations, and around town there's a discernable lag as it moves from gear to gear," but finds its highway behavior "much more agreeable, with hassle-free kickdown for easy passing." ConsumerGuide lists the Commander as being able to tow 7,400 pounds.
Three four-wheel-drive systems are available, including part- and full-time units. If you're up for off-road adventures, a range of powertrain and underbody/chassis components can make the Commander nearly unstoppable on trails. Pointing to its real strong point, Edmunds writes, "Although not quite as capable off-road as the smaller Jeeps, among SUVs in its size class the Commander is a superb trail-buster, able to tackle rock-strewn paths and steep mountain tracks without breaking a sweat." Cars.com states, "Three four-wheel-drive systems are available, and all three earn Jeep's 'Trail Rated' designation." ConsumerGuide notes "a low-range gear for off-roading is standard on Limited and Overland, optional on Sport."
The EPA lists city/highway fuel economy for the V-6 at 14/18 mpg, the 4.7-liter V-8 at 13/18 mpg, and the 5.7-liter HEMI at 13/17 mpg. Cars.com notes that the HEMI loses only 1 mpg to the smaller V-8 due to its ability to run on just four cylinders when not under heavy load. And ConsumerGuide points out that the 4.7-liter V-8 can also take E85 ethanol fuel.
The 2008 Jeep Commander "has good straightline stability, but its tall build results in body lean that prompts lots of slowing down for tight turns," according to ConsumerGuide. Cars.com reports, "Prolonged curves induce plenty of body roll, and the SUV feels especially top-heavy if it's loaded with people and cargo." Cars.com describes the brakes as having "linear response, but never feeling particularly strong," while Kelley Blue Book argues that they're "strong and fade-free," and judges the steering "nicely weighted and fairly precise," adding that "the on-road ride is surprisingly quiet and smooth."
While the 2008 Jeep Commander mostly distinguishes itself from the competition off-road, it is also competent as a suburban daily driver.