2005 Auto Shows Ghosts of Cherokee: 2006 Jeep Commander
By Mike Cervantes
Apr 10, 2005, 22:47
Visitors of the 2005 New York International Auto Show may have thought they saw a ghost the second they stepped into the Jeep display area. A ghost of the last Jeep Cherokee, that is. In an attempt to return to its “classic” design, and appease those who haven’t exactly been pleased with the soft look of the current Liberty, Jeep has come up with this boxy version of the current Grand Cherokee called the Commander. Think of it as a Grand Grand Cherokee with carbon copy looks of the old Cherokee.
Confused? That makes two of us. The whole point of the Commander, we think, is to offer people a third row of seats. This is the first Jeep to seat seven. But instead of simply making a Grand Cherokee XL, like GM has done with its midsize SUVs, Jeep decided to entirely reskin the GC and call it the Commander. In fact, the Commander shares the GC’s 109.5-inch wheelbase and is only about two inches longer overall.
The big difference comes in the stepped-up roof hidden behind the luggage rack. The bump that starts behind the first row and continues all the way to the tail of the Commander provides the headroom needed for the second and third rows.
The big question that comes to mind, however, is simply WHY? We wondered what was going through Jeep executives’ minds when they came up with this idea. Perhaps the “everybody’s doing it” argument works – the Explorer, aforementioned GM midsizers, Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder, and others, all have third row seating. So considering investment in the new Commander must have been substantial, Chrysler must have data telling them this is a product that stands a good chance of working. But will its success come at the expense of the Grand Cherokee? It is only two inches longer, after all.
And what exactly was going through designers’ minds? The new Grand Cherokee followed up a successful run with an odd new look, which features a face that only a mother could love. The new Commander seems intent on being the GC’s equally unattractive bigger brother. It’s conservative yet ugly all at the same time – generally not a feat we’ve come to expect from the Chrysler Group.
There’s a reason why GM’s Hummer lineup has been eating Jeep’s lunch as of late (though their run has turned into a coughing, stumbling jog). It’s not just because the H2 was the “it” vehicle during its first model year. Hummer works because it captures the brute brashness of true offroaders, even if its actual abilities are questionable. They make it look fun. Jeep, on the other hand, appears to be making a run at “Soccer Mom-mobile of the Year” award with this new Commander. This is as dowdy as it gets, which is terribly disappointing considering some of Jeep’s awesome concepts of late.
Oddly, Jeep is the only division with the Chrysler Group where it seems concepts do not become reality. That’s too bad, because Jeep could really use some direction right about now.
The All-New 2006 Jeep® Commander Expands Jeep Lineup with its Classic Design, Jeep Engineering, New Features and Safety Technology
Its name is Jeep Commander, yet the newest member of the Jeep vehicle family could just as easily answer to “vanguard.”
That’s because the all-new 2006 Jeep Commander - classic in design, engineered to perform as only Jeep vehicles can, the first with three rows of seats, and equipped with advanced safety technologies - is the leading edge of a Jeep product offensive scheduled for the next few years.
“The 2006 Jeep Commander is significant for a number of reasons,” said Jeff Bell, Vice President Jeep, Chrysler Group. “First, Commander signals our commitment to remain the leader in the sport-utility market, a market that Jeep invented more than 60 years ago. This is the first seven-passenger 4x4 that is Jeep Trail Rated. Second, Commander is the only SUV in its class to offer two V-8 engines. In addition, the Jeep Commander expands and strengthens what is already a stellar lineup, consisting of the Wrangler, Liberty and Grand Cherokee. And finally, the all-new Jeep Commander initiates the expansion of the Jeep vehicle lineup that will take place during the second half of this decade.”
Heritage Exterior Design, Complemented by An All-New Interior
In developing the 2006 Jeep Commander, designers looked to past Jeep vehicles for inspiration: the Willys Station Wagons (1946 to 1962), the Jeep Wagoneer (1963 to 1991) and especially the Jeep Cherokee (1984 to 2001). All were classically Jeep in appearance, with sharp lines, planar surfaces and rugged looks. The 2006 Jeep Commander is a modern interpretation of that design ethic.
The Jeep Commander’s upright windshield, backlite and rear end, as well as its more vertical body sides and side glass, embody the vehicle’s classic Jeep styling. Even the side-view mirrors are blocky and stout. Overall, Commander looks strong and confident because of its military bearing - upright and rugged.
And because it is steeped in heritage Jeep design, the Commander looks familiar and new at the same time. This tension between past and present engages the emotions.
“The Jeep Cherokee is an authentic, classic shape that is rooted in the public consciousness,” said Donald A. Renkert, Senior Manager, Jeep Studio, Chrysler Group Product Design Office. “By reinterpreting that vehicle, and other classic Jeep vehicles of the past, the Jeep Commander elicited nods of recognition from consumers, even though it is a brand new vehicle. There is a sense of deja vu about the Jeep Commander that brings knowing smiles of satisfaction.”
The satisfaction continues inside the vehicle, where attention to detail is evident. For example, the two-tone instrument panel is a design unique to Commander. From the gear shift knob, to the four round gauges that make up the instrument cluster, to the new steering wheel, Commander is refined and uniquely Jeep in appearance.
The newly designed seats are supportive and comfortable. And, for the first time in a Jeep vehicle, there are three rows of them, each row slightly higher than the one in front of it. This distinctive stadium seating arrangement makes forward viewing easier. The second and third row seats fold forward to create a flat load floor. Commander is only two inches longer than the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee, even though it is designed to accommodate three rows of seats. And since they have the same wheelbase (109.5 inches), Commander is as maneuverable and off-road capable as the Grand Cherokee.
The Jeep Commander’s stepped roof provides second and third row occupants with plenty of head room. Complementing the available front-mounted sun roof is Command-View™, new and innovative skylights (complete with shades) over the second row of seats.
Engineered to Go Anywhere, Do Anything
Class-leading off-road capability and on-road refinement were mandatory for the Jeep Commander. So the Jeep team went to the head of the class: They provided Commander with the same 4x4 systems, suspension and powertrains as the award-winning 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee, including an independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering. Available on Commander are:
• Three full-time four-wheel drive systems, Quadra-Trac I®, Quadra-Trac II® and Quadra-Drive II®
• Two transfer cases offering Brake Traction Control System (BTCS), and Electronic Limited Slip Differentials (ELSD) for best-in-class tractive performance
• Three available engines: the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 with the Multi-Displacement System, the 4.7-liter SOHC Power Tech V-8, and the 3.7-liter SOHC Power Tech V-6 engine
“The on-road refinement and off-road capability of the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee are key reasons why it was named 4x4 of the Year by 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine,” said Craig Love, Vice President, Rear-Wheel Drive Product Team. “Now, the only vehicle on the market with the same pedigree is the all-new Jeep Commander.”
Safety and Security Designed in from the Beginning
Like all Chrysler Group vehicles, the 2006 Jeep Commander is designed to improve not only handling and accident avoidance, but also to provide excellent crash protection.
Jeep Commander is the first Chrysler Group vehicle with electronic roll mitigation. Using input from multiple sensors, the system deploys the air bags in certain rollover scenarios, as well as side impact events.
Crash protection features available on the Jeep Commander include advanced multi-stage air bags with an Occupant Classification System, available side curtain air bags, seat belts equipped with pretensioners and digressive load limiting retractors, and BeltAlert®, a buckle-up reminder system for the driver.
Crash avoidance features on the 2006 Jeep Commander include standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) and an All-Speed Traction Control System (TCS). A tire pressure monitoring system, ParkSense™, (rear park assist), Uconnect™ hands-free communications, DVD-based navigation system, SmartBeam® headlamps and rain sensitive wipers provide additional safety and security on the road.
Jeep Trail Rated
The Jeep Trail Rated badge on the 2006 Jeep Commander shows that the vehicle has been designed to perform in a variety of challenging off-road conditions identified by five key consumer-oriented performance categories: Traction, Ground Clearance, Maneuverability, Articulation and Water Fording.
Jeep Trail Rated is an industry-leading methodology established by the Nevada Automotive Test Center (NATC) and Jeep Engineering to objectively measure and consistently predict off-road performance for all Jeep vehicles today and into the future. Through a combination of natural and controlled field tests, as well as computer simulated environments, Jeep Trail Rated provides a repeatable and consistent measurement of off-road performance for all Jeep vehicles. Only Jeep vehicles are Trail Rated.