What's New for 2007
The familiar Overland name finds its way into the Jeep Commander lineup for 2007. This range-topping trim level features the 5.7-liter V8 as standard, 18-inch wheels (late availability) and special interior and exterior trim. Other changes this year include the renaming of the base model as the "Sport" and the introduction of some new equipment, including a flex-fuel version of the 4.7-liter V8, a power liftgate and a rearview camera.
As SUVs go, Jeeps have traditionally been on the small side, their compact exterior dimensions providing better maneuverability on narrow off-road trails. But in today's world of "bigger is better," small is often seen as a liability. The solution, from the viewpoint of Jeep's corporate managers, is the Commander, the brand's most accommodating SUV.
The 2007 Jeep Commander is mechanically similar to the Grand Cherokee. It has the same basic architecture and running gear, is only 2 inches longer and even shares the same wheelbase dimension. The big difference is in its taller height. This attribute allowed Jeep designers to make the interior seating "stadium style" and add a fold-flat third-row seat. So equipped, the Commander is the only Jeep capable of seating seven.
Conceptually, the Commander makes a lot of sense. By having the Grand Cherokee's general size and capabilities, it's truly off-road-worthy. Its available V8 engines pack plenty of punch. And who doesn't want a third-row seat for those "just in case" times when you need to haul around your kids, as well as their friends?
A major problem, however, is that the 2007 Jeep Commander still doesn't have as much cargo space or third-row-seat legroom as its competitors. Additionally, the vehicle's elevated center of gravity also puts it at a disadvantage in terms of handling when compared to more street-use-oriented SUVs. Nor does the blocky exterior shape provide any favors in terms of fuel economy. In sum, the Jeep Commander's dual-use approach strikes us as a bit too compromised. Making matters worse is the fact that reliability has been spotty on early models. While the Commander will no doubt satisfy some Jeep enthusiasts, we think most people will be better off with the more well-rounded Ford Explorer or the Toyota 4Runner or Sequoia.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Jeep Commander is a midsize SUV. Three trim levels are offered: Sport, Limited and Overland. The Sport comes standard with air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry, rear park assist, a CD player and a 50/50-split folding third-row seat. The Commander Limited has these features as well as a sunroof with second-row skylights, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, a separate rear HVAC unit, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power and heated front seats, leather upholstery and a driver-seat memory. An upgraded audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD/MP3 player is also standard.
Jeep offers most of the Limited's extra features on the Sport through optional packages. The range-topping Overland is equipped similarly to the Limited but adds 18-inch wheels (late availability), two-tone leather seating and special interior and exterior trim. Other major options for the Commander include a navigation system with a backup camera, rear-seat DVD entertainment, satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
Powertrains and Performance
The Sport comes with a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. The Commander Limited is equipped with a 4.7-liter V8 capable of 235 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque. Optional on the Limited and standard on the Overland 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. Models with the 4.7-liter V8 have an EPA fuel economy rating of 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway. Properly equipped, the Commander can tow a 7200-pound load.
In terms of drivetrain, each trim level is offered with either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Sport models have the basic Quadra Trac 4WD system and can be upgraded to the electronically shifted Quadra Trac II 4WD system. The Limited has the latter as standard. Optional on the Limited and standard on the Overland is the more advanced Quadra Drive II 4WD system.
Standard safety features on the 2007 Jeep Commander include antilock disc brakes, stability control and side curtain airbags. Power-adjustable pedals are optional on the Sport and standard on the Limited and Overland. In NHTSA crash tests, the Jeep Commander earned five out of five stars for its protection of front passengers in frontal impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Commander's simple instrumentation and straightforward controls could not be easier on the eyes or easier to use. It's all very similar to the stuff Jeep puts in the smaller Grand Cherokee, and it all works. The front seats are comfortable and well positioned. Second-row passengers have a good view out the windshield thanks to the elevated seat positioning, but the amount of room provided for them is rather average, while the non-adjustable outboard head restraints can interfere with the use of high-back booster seats. The third-row seat, due to its lack of legroom, is for kids only. Cargo capacity with all three rows in use is just 7.5 cubic feet. With all rear seats folded, total cargo capacity is a subpar 68.9 cubic feet. Competing midsize SUVs typically provide 80 cubic feet or more. In addition, the cargo floor is much higher than normal due to the difficulty associated with packaging fold-flat seating in an off-road-oriented vehicle with a solid-axle rear suspension.
In spite of its boxy shape, the 2007 Jeep Commander has a quiet and serene ride. The suspension dampens imperfections in the road well, and the rack-and-pinion steering provides a solid and responsive road feel. More demanding drivers might find the Jeep's body motions excessive over bumps, however. Taken off-road, the Jeep proves to be a capable machine thanks to its sufficient ground clearance, ample wheel travel and low-range 4WD. Acceleration is strong with either V8, but don't expect much in terms of fuel economy.
Read our Jeep Commander Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test