Just ask the drivers of Scion xB or Honda Element or the nearest delivery van, and they’ll tell you they can cram a lot of stuff into their vehicles. In the cases of xB or Element, the interiors are surprisingly roomy compared with the diminutive exteriors.
Commander is designed for the same effect, with its upright cabin and vertical tailgate. Simply put, Commander is a taller, boxier version of Grand Cherokee designed to maximize interior space and add a third road of passenger seats.
The third row has become a major selling point for midsize SUVs. Everything from Ford Explorer to Suzuki XL-7 offers a third row, even if sometimes, they’re only roomy enough for toddlers.
By the way, Jeep guys certainly remember the brawny Commando of the ’60s and ’70s, but despite the similarity of name, Commander is a totally different trip.
Commander is an accommodating vehicle with a comfortable ride and an airy interior, thanks to the high roofline and upright windows. Even a tall guy could drive without doffing his 10-gallon cowboy hat.
But because of extra height and weight, Commander is a fairly ponderous vehicle to drive. The handling is responsive enough, but this truck feels bulky around town, with its soft suspension allowing too much wallow and body sway.
Also, the base-model test truck had only two-wheel drive, which would appear to limit its possibilities as a “trail-rated” Jeep.
Vehicle type: Seven-passenger, four-door SUV, rear-wheel drive.
Engine: 235 horsepower at 4,500 rpm, 305 pound-feet torque at 3,600 rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed automatic.
Wheelbase: 109.5 inches.
Overall length: 188.5 inches.
Curb weight: 4,709 pounds.
EPA rating: 15 city, 19 highway.
Highs: Comfortable ride, engine power, retro design.
Lows: Soft handling, poor fuel mileage, cramped rear seat.