2006 Commander New Car Test Drive
Jeep has long been known for vehicles that enable owners to go anywhere, do anything, at least in spirit.
Jeep is expanding its product line, and in coming years it may include pickup trucks, crossover SUVs and youthful small sedans that drive like rally cars. Strictly speaking, this is not a new adventure for Jeep, which has offered a line of pickups (Gladiator) utility vehicles (Willys Station Wagons) and AWD cars (AMC Eagle) in the past.
But in the new 2006 Commander, Jeep offers a capability no Jeep has had before: three-row seating and the ability to carry seven passengers. Equipped with a higher level of safety and security features than any previous Jeep, the Commander represents the first salvo in Jeep's upcoming product offensive.
The Commander comes in two models, the Jeep Commander ($27,290), and the Commander Limited ($35,585). Two-wheel drive (2WD) is standard, but 4WD is available for both the base model ($29,290) and the Limited ($38,205).
The base model Jeep Commander comes standard with a 3.7-liter SOHC V6, rated at 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. The V6 is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission designed to balance performance and fuel economy.
On 4WD models, the standard system is Jeep's Quadra-Trac I, which is an automatic full-time all-wheel-drive system enhanced by electronic traction control.
Standard features on the Commander include air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD player and 6 speakers, power windows, power heated mirrors, power eight-way driver's seat, flipper glass on the liftgate with remote control, all-terrain tires on 17-inch cast aluminum wheels with tire-pressure monitoring, and speed control.
The Commander Limited comes with a bigger engine, more sophisticated driveline engineering and a wide array of comfort and convenience options. It can be distinguished by distinctive chrome accents and trim on the grille and throughout the body. Standard is the 4.7-liter V8 engine, rated to produce 235 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. A different five-speed automatic transmission, with taller ratios and three planetary gear sets, backs both the 4.7-liter V8 and the optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8.
The optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 ($845), producing 330 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, is available with fuel-saving Multi-Displacement System (MDS) technology, which shuts down cylinders as the opportunity arises under light load conditions.
The Commander Limited 4x4 models come standard with a full-time active 4WD system, Jeep's Quadra-Trac II. The system is Jeep's newest and most advanced, and includes a two-speed transfer case with front and rear electronic Limited Slip Differentials, allowing all available torque to be transferred to any wheel with traction.
Standard features on the Commander Limited include air conditioning with dual-zone temperature control, leather-trimmed bucket seats with memory, power adjustable pedals, the SmartBeam intelligent headlight system, power sunroof with skylights, eight-way power driver seats and four-way power passenger seats, and an AM/FM stereo with a six-disc in-dash CD player and MP3 capability with six Boston Acoustic speakers. Also standard is Sirius Satellite Radio with one-year subscription, security alarm, tire pressure monitoring display, rear cabin climate controls and universal garage door opener.
Options include rear DVD, engine block heater, Saddle Brown seating surfaces, full map GPS display with navigation radio, and 17-inch chrome-clad wheels.
Jeep tells us the Commander has the highest level of safety and security ever offered on a Chrysler Group vehicle. ABS braking is complimented with electronic stability control (ESP) to enhance driver control. Brake Assist, a system that actively applies maximum braking in panic situations, works to provide the shortest possible stopping distances. Side-curtain air bags with a roll detection system deploy in case of rollover and/or side impact. Front air bags are multi-stage type that deploy in stages according to the severity of an impact event. The frame and body structure are constructed to manage impact energy in the event of a collision, working in conjunction with the air bag and seat belt systems, which are equipped with belt pretensioners and constant-force retractors.