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With the 2006 Jeep Commander, the automaker has taken all that is good about the Grand Cherokee, added more passenger capacity, and penned a design that is unquestionably a real Jeep SUV.
Three available engines, excellent off-road ability, balanced handling, simple controls.
Low-grade interior materials, minimal legroom for third-row seat, mediocre cargo capacity, poor gas mileage with the big V8s.
Available Commander SUV Models
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The 2006 Jeep Commander is a new seven-passenger SUV based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee's basic platform.
Jeep practically invented the sport-utility vehicle way back in the dark days of WWII, when the army needed a tough, maneuverable and lightweight vehicle capable of traversing the nastiest roads and trails on the planet. Sixty years later, the brand is still going strong. Two ingredients have been missing from the Jeep lineup, however; one, an SUV with a third-row seat, and two, a rolling box. Seriously, the departure of the Cherokee left a bit of an empty spot in the hearts of Jeep loyalists. Sure, the Liberty proved a worthy replacement, but its cute factor is no match for the rough-'n-tumble "real" SUV look that made the Cherokee such a success. Climbing two boulders with one meaty tire, the all-new Jeep Commander fills in those two missing ingredients. Make no mistake; the styling is boxy, hard-edged, and quite Cherokee-like. Nobody will ever call this Jeep SUV cute. And peering inside reveals the golden e-ticket of the SUV world, a third-row seat.
The 2006 Jeep Commander is based upon the Grand Cherokee platform, and as such, it shares running gear and major mechanicals. It also shares most of the GC's off-road prowess, so buyers can be assured that the Commander can take on moderate trails with ease. The Commander has the same wheelbase as the Grand Cherokee, and is a mere 2 inches longer. This means it's maneuverable enough for both city streets and off-road trails. One area where the Commander is larger, however, is overall height. This allows the second and third rows of seating to be arranged stadium-style for better forward visibility. The downside to the Commander's lack of an extended wheelbase, unfortunately, is that its third-row seat is quite cramped. While no midsize SUV offers truly spectacular third-row seating, many better the Commander in this regard and provide more cargo volume. Overall, the 2006 Jeep Commander should appeal to those people who need a trail-capable seven-passenger SUV or just enjoy its distinctive look. Just keep in mind that the Commander isn't the only buff SUV available.
The 2006 Jeep Commander is available in two trim levels: base and Limited. Standard features include power windows and door locks, air conditioning, a power driver seat, a CD stereo and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Limited model adds heated leather seats with driver's memory, a power front passenger seat, automatic dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, rain-sensing automatic wipers, chrome exterior trim, a power sunroof with dual skylights for second-row passengers and a Boston Acoustics audio system with in-dash CD changer and satellite radio. Other options, depending on the trim level, include heated front seats, a navigation system, a sunroof, two specialized skylights and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
The Jeep Commander comes standard with a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. The Limited is equipped with a 4.7-liter V8 capable of pumping out 235 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. Optional on the Limited is a 5.7-liter V8, which produces 330 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. All three engines come standard with a five-speed automatic transmission. Base models can be equipped with a full-time all-wheel-drive system, while the Limited utilizes the more advanced Quadra-Trac II (optional on base) 4WD system that incorporates a two-speed transfer case. Finally, the Quadra-Drive II system (optional on Limited) combines a full-time two-speed transfer case with front/rear/center electronic limited-slip differentials. With the 4.7-liter V8, the Commander is rated to pull 7,200 pounds.
Standard safety features include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability control and side curtain airbags. The 2006 Jeep Commander has not yet been crash tested.
The Commander's seats are firm and supportive, and the leather looks quite contemporary. The two-tone plastic panels lend a modern touch to the surroundings, even if they are a bit hard. The third-row seat is best suited for children. Cargo capacity with all three rows in use is 7.5 cubic feet. With the third row stowed, capacity jumps to 36.4. With all rear seats folded, total cargo capacity is 68.9 cubic feet.
In spite of its boxy shape, the 2006 Jeep Commander has a rather quiet and serene ride. Road and wind noise is minimal, and the ride is smooth. The suspension dampens imperfections in the road well, and the rack and pinion steering provides a solid and responsive road feel. The all-wheel drive grabs pavement with gusto. Even though the raucous 5.7-liter V8 provides gobs of low-end thrust, the 3.7-liter V6 and 4.7-liter V8 are smooth and provide enough power for most applications.
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