Jeep Commander Limited 3.0 CRD
28 June 2006
Category: 4x4 Prices: £27,490-£34,535
Per month: £655 Key rival: Nissan Pathfinder
Having only seen pictures of the Jeep Commander before it arrived at the Fleet Week offices we weren't impressed with the brutal looks. Thankfully, the Commander is one of those rare cars that don't photograph well but in reality have kerb presence.
Sure, it's far from graceful, but it's designed as an off-roader, and an incredibly competent one too, so the in-your-face looks suit the car well.
The Commander gives Jeep a seven-seat off-roader to rival cars such as the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Land Cruiser. It's wheels are firmly in the 'proper off-roader' camp, rather than those cars which look like off-roaders but are far more at home on asphalt, such as the Volvo XC90 and new Audi Q7.
Unfortunately apart from off-road prowess, which is easy to access with the simple-to-use auto gearbox and 4x4 selection lever, the Commander lags behind its rivals.
While the exterior styling grows on you, the dash is poorly laid out and the optional satnav and upgraded stereo system (part of a £3000 entertainment pack including rear DVD player) particularly confusing. In a week of driving, we never worked out how to turn the TP travel information on.
The gearbox may have been simple to use but it intrudes so much into the driver's footwell that if you're wearing hefty shoes or boots your left foot will sit underneath the brake pedal. It doesn't stop you braking, but feels uncomfortable on longer journeys because you can't rest your foot or leg far enough left.
There's reasonable room and comfort from all seven seats, particularly if you only put kids in the rear-most pair. But again there's a design flaw. When the back two seats are folded, the boot becomes particularly shallow if you want to keep luggage below the window line. And because the seats (when folded) sit in the boot floor, rather than folding below, it contributes to one of Commander's most annoying flaws.
Due to the raised boot area above the height of the top of the bumper and a concave boot lid lining, unsecured items such as shopping placed in the boot can end up balanced on the boot lip. So when you open the boot they fall out and can break.
Topping off these design annoyances is the poor costs figures, primarily caused by depreciation that sits nearly £4000 worse than its next nearest competitor - the result being a cost per mile also far worse than its rivals.