What's New for 2010
The 2010 Jeep Commander does away with last year's midrange 4.7-liter V8 and Overland trim level. The powerful 5.7-liter V8 is now standard on the Limited models, as is a power liftgate. The entry-level Sport model makes modest gains with third-row seats and foglights as standard equipment.
You can't be everything to everybody. That's the lesson we take away from the 2010 Jeep Commander. Nostalgic styling, off-road prowess, seating for seven and a luxurious interior seem to be too much to all fit into this midsize Jeep. It manages to meet these goals, but just barely and not without some significant drawbacks.
The Commander's exterior styling is an obvious nod to the Cherokee from years past, but that Jeep's boxy look is a bit too fresh in our minds to be considered "retro." Inside, you'll find a third-row seat -- the Commander is the only Jeep product to offer one. However, there's just not much interior room, and consequently, adults will find both the second and third rows rather cramped. To compound the space issues, the Commander holds significantly less cargo than its competitors.
The Jeep Commander attempts to increase its appeal with a few feature changes for 2010, but these improvements fail to address the larger issues. The previously top-shelf Overland trim has been dropped, leaving the trim level selection at just two, Sport and Limited. The midrange 4.7-liter V8 is also gone, meaning buyers have to choose the 5.7-liter V8 unless they want to get stuck with the woefully underpowered V6.
While the Commander's combination of seven-passenger seating and respectable off-road credentials might hold some appeal for a select group of people, we suggest consumers look elsewhere. Full-size crossovers like the Ford Flex, GMC Acadia and Mazda CX-9 are better vehicles for daily use, thanks to their roomier interiors, higher fuel economy and better driving dynamics. And if you really do want a seven-passenger, do-it-all vehicle, Toyota's fully redesigned 2010 4Runner manages to provide pretty much the same level of rugged off-road capability without nearly as many compromises.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Jeep Commander is a seven-passenger midsize SUV that is offered in two trim levels: Sport and Limited. The Sport model's standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels; heated exterior mirrors; foglights; a roof rack; front and rear air-conditioning; full power accessories; an eight-way power driver seat; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; a 40/20/40-split second-row bench; a 50/50-split third-row bench; rear parking sensors; and a six-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player, an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. Adding the optional Sun and Sound Group will provide a touchscreen navigation system with real-time traffic reporting, heated front seats, leather upholstery, a rearview camera, a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth and an upgraded audio system with a 30GB music server and iPod integration.
Stepping up to the Commander Limited includes all of the Sport's Sun and Sound Group features plus auto-dimming exterior mirrors, dual-zone climate control, heated second-row seats, power-adjustable pedals, a power liftgate, driver-seat memory and remote engine start. Xenon headlights and a rear-seat entertainment system (with Sirius Backseat TV) are available on the Limited, as are adaptive headlights and various towing packages. A chrome exterior trim package is also available for both Sport and Limited models.
Powertrains and Performance
Two engine choices are offered with the 2010 Jeep Commander. The Sport model's standard power plant is a 3.7-liter V6 that produces 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. A 5.7-liter V8 is standard on Limited models and available as an option on the Sport. This engine has an output of 357 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available for all Commanders.
The 3.7-liter V6 feels woefully overtaxed when trying to accelerate all 4,600-plus pounds of Jeep Commander. To make matters worse, the lack of power does not translate into improved fuel economy. The EPA estimates a two-wheel drive Commander V6's fuel consumption at 15 mpg city/20 on the highway and 16 in combined driving -- which is subpar for this segment. The burly 5.7- liter V8 provides much better acceleration without any appreciable fuel mileage penalties, as it is rated at 14/20/16 mpg. Four-wheel-drive versions turn in 1 less mpg across the board.
Both Sport and Limited Commander models are offered in either two- or four-wheel drive. Sport models have the basic Quadra-Trac 4WD system and can be upgraded to the full-time active Quadra-Trac II 4WD that is standard on the Limited. Optional on the Limited is the more advanced Quadra-Drive II system, which includes hill start assist, hill descent control, and front and rear electronic limited-slip differentials. Properly equipped, a V8-powered two-wheel-drive Commander can tow a maximum of 7,400 pounds, while V6 models top out at 6,500 pounds.
All Commanders come standard with antilock disc brakes, full-length side curtain airbags, traction control and stability control with rollover mitigation.
In government crash tests, the 2010 Jeep Commander was awarded a perfect five out of five stars for frontal collision protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
As with many Jeep vehicles, the 2010 Commander's interior features user-friendly controls and functional instruments in a fairly simple and clean layout. The front seats offer plenty of comfort, and the raised stadium-style second-row seats provide a good view of the road, but taller passengers will likely find legroom lacking. The third-row seats are even more cramped. Luggage space with all seats in place is a minuscule 7.5 cubic feet. Folding the second- and third-row seats will open up the cabin to hold 69 cubic feet, which is considerably less than the 80 or more cubic feet offered by other competitors.
The 2010 Jeep Commander provides a quiet and comfortable ride while rolling down the highway, but potholes and bumps tend to trigger some excessive body undulations. When straying into the wilderness, though, the Commander comes into its own with its sophisticated 4WD systems, abundance of wheel travel and respectable ground clearance. Rugged terrain is easily tamed, but for those who regularly hit the trails, we would suggest a more compact Jeep, as the Commander's beefy proportions are a bit too much for narrower passages.