by Jim Kerr
Photos by Grant Yoxon

2006 Jeep Commander Limited
Click image to enlarge

Jeep is taking safety seriously. While these stout durable vehicles have taken enthusiasts over some of the toughest terrain in the country, danger is always present when you are pushing a vehicle near its limits. Whether it be loose road surfaces or steep side inclines, the latest Jeep technology is helping protect their passengers.

The Commander SUV is the newest addition to the Jeep line-up and is a great example of the current state-of-the-art safety technology available on the market. Safety was one of the priorities when designing a vehicle capable of transporting 7 passengers over backcountry trails or through city streets. Its safety systems can be grouped into two areas: passive systems and active systems. Active safety is something that affects the way a driver controls a vehicle, and active systems include anti-lock brakes (ABS) and stability control. The Commander’s ABS system includes Brake Assist. This system applies the brakes fully if the driver steps on the brake pedal quickly and lets the ABS system control the stop. Studies have shown that drivers may react quickly to danger ahead by applying the brakes but usually don’t step on the brake pedal hard enough for maximum stopping power until a fraction of a second later. Brake Assist provides shorter emergency stopping distances for most drivers.

The Commander’s stability control system uses selective brake and throttle application to keep the vehicle stable on slippery roads or mixtures of loose and hard packed road surfaces. Basically, the system keeps the vehicle going where the driver intended it to go. Of course, no stability control system can overcome the laws of physics. If the vehicle is in a skid or the tires have no traction on the road, the stability system can’t help until traction is available.

2006 Jeep Commander Limited
Click image to enlarge

We may not think of all-wheel drive as a safety system, but the Jeep Quadra-Drive II system can help provide traction on all surfaces, and the electric locking differentials keep it surefooted on even the toughest off road terrain. If that isn’t enough, the brakes can be applied to a spinning wheel automatically by the all-speed traction control to transfer torque to the wheels with traction.

Electronic roll mitigation is another innovative feature that monitors vehicle operation and can apply the appropriate brake and throttle control to stabilize the vehicle if it approaches a potential roll-over situation. Whether it is steep off road travel or a highway corner taken too fast, the electronic roll mitigation may prevent serious injury.

Passive safety systems quietly go along for the ride, providing security and protection. Air bags are an example of passive safety. The Commander uses full side curtain air bags that protect passengers in all three rows during side impacts or rolls. We have grown to expect frontal air bags and seat belts on all vehicles, and the Commander seat belts have shoulder belts for all seating positions.

2006 Jeep Commander Limited
Click image to enlarge

Some features are really safety systems, but we may not think of them that way. Rear park assist warning sensors may not do much to protect vehicle occupants, but do protect anyone behind the vehicle because the driver is warned when backing up. Rain sense wipers monitor the amount of water on the windshield and automatically operate the wipers at the correct speed to maintain good driver visibility. SmartBeam headlamps automatically vary their intensity between low beam and high beam so that maximum lighting is provided at all times without blinding other drivers on the road. The Commander is available with all these systems.

There are many vehicles on the road that have some of the Jeep safety systems. A few such as Volvo and Mercedes may even have many of them, but the Commander is breaking new ground by incorporating so many state of the art safety systems in one SUV. I look forward to the next generation of vehicles that will incorporate even more safety features.

Connect with Autos.ca