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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Labors in highway passing and merging”
Capable not only off-road, but on highways and byways, too
Poor fuel mileage with the larger engines
Superior off-road ability
Kelley Blue Book
Shifts quite early in most situations
Performance for the 2010 Jeep Commander is decent on the road, but off-road is where it really shines. Jeep brings back last year's newly introduced 5.7-liter HEMI engine making 357 horsepower and 389 lb-ft 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 power 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.
Reviewers give mixed opinions of the two engines, with Edmunds remarking that "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 acknowledges that it "labors in highway passing and merging." With the mid-range 4.7-liter V-8 out of the picture, Edmunds finds that "buyers have to choose the 5.7-liter V8 unless they want to get stuck with the woefully underpowered V6."
ConsumerGuide lists the Commander as being able to tow 7,400 pounds with the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 in place, and notes that both engines "team with a five-speed automatic transmission," a transmission that Cars.com says "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 kick down for easy passing."
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). None of the engines provides fuel-efficient operation, but the powerful HEMI manages 14 mpg city, 20 highway—a marginal penalty compared to 15 mpg city, 20 highway for the base V-6.
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.
Edmunds points out the Commander’s strong points, saying, "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 [trim models]" and "optional on Sport [trim]."
Cars.com reports that when driving the Commander, "Prolonged curves induce plenty of body roll, and the SUV feels especially top-heavy if it's loaded with people and cargo." ConsumerGuide says the 2010 Jeep Commander "has good straight-line stability, but its tall build results in body lean that prompts lots of slowing down for tight turns," and describes the brakes as having "linear response, but never feeling particularly strong." Kelley Blue Book argues that the brakes are "strong and fade-free," and judges the steering as "nicely weighted and fairly precise."
The 2010 Jeep Commander is a mediocre suburban daily driver—with poor fuel economy all around—but off-road it demonstrates enviable performance.