2010 Jeep Commander Review

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The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 5, 2010

The 2010 Jeep Commander is at home on the trail, although its interior and on-the-road comfort leave a lot to be desired.

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.

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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.

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2010 Jeep Commander

Styling

Few will argue that the 2010 Jeep Commander has rugged, classic Jeep good looks that strike a chord with off-road enthusiasts.

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.

As the largest and most luxurious SUV in Jeep’s model lineup, the 2010 Commander features a range of configurations from the standard Sport model to the top Limited trim. There used to be an Overland trim that sat above the Limited trim model, but Jeep nixes this for 2010.

In many ways the 2010 Jeep Commander strikes a close resemblance to the old Cherokee—a loss that Jeep lovers have long lamented. With its squared-off styling and tall stance, it maintains Jeep's rugged, simple design aesthetic. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Jeep Commander "bears a striking resemblance to the formers beloved and boxy design." Cars.com reports that "the Commander's shape made it instantly recognizable as a Jeep when it arrived in early 2005 and it remains fresh today," citing its "slab-sided body and boxlike hood." Car and Driver also praises what it calls "classic Jeep styling," and Edmunds commends its "classic good looks."

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. The Jeep Commander's interior styling is straightforward. Cars.com focuses on the more rugged elements inside the Jeep Commander, noting that the "dashboard's upper sections have exposed Allen-head screws, there's no shortage of A/C vents, and most surfaces are hard to the touch." ConsumerGuide reports that the "Sport's cabin is more rugged than rich, appropriate for a vehicle with off-road pretensions," adding that the Limited's "extra trim and leather upholstery creates a more upscale ambiance." Edmunds echoes this sentiment, saying that the Jeep Commander’s "upscale two-tone decor makes for an attractive interior." Kelley Blue Book agrees, describing the 2010 Commander as offering "far better interior accommodations" than the old Cherokee.

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2010 Jeep Commander

Performance

The 2010 Jeep Commander is a mediocre suburban daily driver—with poor fuel economy all around—but off-road it demonstrates enviable performance.  

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."

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2010 Jeep Commander

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Jeep Commander is no luxury SUV, and its interior isn't entirely delightful, but provided you keep the third row for small kids, it's reasonably comfortable and spacious for family use.  

Despite its relatively high price tag, the 2010 Jeep Commander is not a true luxury SUV, and it never lets occupants forget that; that said, it still retains sturdy construction and off-road prowess.

Edmunds finds that the Commander’s front seats are "comfortable," and ConsumerGuide agrees, noting that they provide "ample headroom, legroom, and shoulder space for even large adults, but flat seat bottoms lack support for longer trips.” Cars.com also remarks the front seats are "well-cushioned and durable," and adds that "the standard eight-way power driver's seat has lots of travel."

"Headroom is adequate,” says ConsumerGuide about the Commander’s second-row seats, “but legroom is very tight...three-abreast travel is best left to brief rides.” According to Kelley Blue Book, the third row has just 28.9 inches of legroom and 35.7 inches of headroom. "The cramped 3rd row suits only grade-schoolers, and is overly complicated to access,” contends ConsumerGuide.

When the third-row seat is lowered, storage space becomes a strong suit of the Commander. In this regard, ConsumerGuide states, "Generous space is made more useful by a wide, flat floor and large hatch opening," but notes that, with the third-row bench in the "up" position, "available cargo space shrinks to negligible." Cars.com reports that on the inside of the Jeep Commander, "a pocketed shelf sits above the glove compartment, and there are several nooks around the gearshift to stash cell phones or parking stubs," but adds, "There's just 7.5 cubic feet of luggage space behind the [rear] seats, which is less than half what you'll get in a Nissan Pathfinder."

Although the 2010 Jeep Commander is a definite upgrade compared to the old Cherokee, reviewers' opinions are mixed. Edmunds calls the interior materials "lackluster" and cites "too much hard plastic for an SUV in this price range." Meanwhile, Cars.com remarks that "the silver plastic surrounding the center controls and window switches is respectable in quality."

ConsumerGuide ranks the Jeep Commander as being "among the quietest traditional truck-type SUVs," and Kelley Blue Book is impressed with the leather and wood grain-trimmed interior found in the Limited version. Cars.com adds that "road and wind noise stay in check on the highway, but the Commander's poor aerodynamics mean crosswinds can catch drivers off-guard." Kelley Blue Book, however, also has good things to say about the ride quality, commenting that "the on-road ride is surprisingly quiet and smooth."

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2010 Jeep Commander

Safety

Although crash-test results are scarce for the 2010 Commander, it promises a good level of safety.

Safety features on the 2010 Jeep Commander 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.

When tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Commander only scored three stars in the rollover test but received the best rating of five stars for frontal impact crash tests.

All Jeep Commanders include four-wheel-disc anti-lock brakes, traction control, and an electronic stability system. Cars.com reports Jeep Commanders are also equipped with side curtain airbags for all three rows with tip sensors, so they'll deploy during a rollover. Cars.com also finds that the "stability system uses Chrysler's Electronic Roll Mitigation, which attempts to detect an imminent rollover and trigger preventative braking measures." Kelley Blue Book notes that child door locks and an engine immobilizer are also standard on the 2010 Jeep Commander.

Although a rearview camera is available on the Commander, rear visibility is certainly an issue. "Thick roof pillars and theater-style seating combine to block rear visibility almost entirely,” says ConsumerGuide, and Cars.com reports that when the headrest-equipped third-row bench is upright, "visibility out the rear window all but disappears."

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2010 Jeep Commander

Features

The list of available options for the 2010 Jeep Commander is long—but watch the bottom-line price.

Available in two trim levels, Sport and Limited, the 2010 Jeep Commander offers a wide variation of standard features both inside and out, while optional equipment includes even more gadgetry.

When choosing between trim levels, consumers can also decide between rear- or all-wheel-drive drivetrains. Power windows and door locks, a power driver seat, air conditioning, and a CD player are standard equipment on all Jeep Commander models. Edmunds reports that the Limited model adds "a power sunroof with twin skylights for those ensconced in the second row, satellite radio, rain-sensing automatic wipers, power-adjustable pedals and an automatic dual-zone climate control." New for 2010, the Limited trim model also gets a power liftgate as standard.

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. Cars.com reports that Jeep Commander owners with families "will appreciate the kid-friendly options. Among them are Sirius Satellite TV, which debuted in Chrysler's redesigned minivans not long ago; it streams mobile content from Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and Cartoon Network to the Commander's rear flip-down screen.” Cars.com adds, "Chrysler's MyGIG infotainment system incorporates a hard drive that can store some 1,600 songs—enough that you can leave your iPod at home. A navigation system can be coupled with it, and the system includes real-time traffic monitoring, provided you subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio, which streams the data in."

Other 2010 Jeep Commander features include 17-inch aluminum machined-face wheels with painted pockets (standard on Sport models); 17-inch, five-spoke aluminum machined face wheels with painted pockets (standard on Limited models); and optional 18-inch, seven-spoke aluminum chrome-clad wheels. For 2010, Jeep also gives the base Sport model a third row of seats and foglights as standard.

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