All-new for 2006, the Jeep Commander is a seven-passenger model that shares its components with the Grand Cherokee. The first Jeep to offer three rows of seats, it also includes “CommandView” dual skylights that are packaged with the power sunroof.

Like the Grand Cherokee, the Commander comes with three engines: a 3.7-litre V6, 4.7-litre V8 and 5.7-litre Hemi V8. The 5.7-litre features Multi-Displacement (MDS), which deactivates half the cylinders when full power is not needed, resulting in improved fuel economy. Three four-wheel-drive systems are available: the Quadra-Trac I, with a single-speed transfer case that provides full-time 4WD; Quadra-Trac II, with full-time active 4WD that routes up to 100 per cent of torque to either axle in case of wheel slippage, and electronic shift with low-range gear; and Quadra-Drive II, with electronic limited slip differentials.

The Commander’s seating is “theatre-style”: the second row is higher than the first, and the third is higher than the second. Headroom is improved with a staggered roof that is 80 mm higher, beginning over the second row. The middle and third rows fold forward to create a flat cargo floor; a storage bin is located below the third-row seat.

The base Commander uses the V6 with five-speed automatic transmission (the 4.7-litre V8 is optional) and includes body-colour fender flares, roof rail crossbars, liftgate flipper glass, rear wiper, heated mirrors, 17-inch aluminum wheels with full-size matching spare, cloth seats with eight-way power driver’s seat, air conditioning, CD with six speakers, cruise control and tire pressure monitor.

The Limited uses the 4.7-litre and can be optioned up to the 5.7-litre with Quadra-Drive II; it adds chrome grille, premium fender flares, rear exterior assist handles, fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated leather seats with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped wheel, power-adjustable pedals, power sunroof with CommandView skylights, six-CD/MP3, security alarm, tire pressure monitor with display, rear HVAC and universal garage door opener.

Optional equipment on Commander includes a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, satellite radio, UConnect hands-free communication, chrome-clad wheels and navigation system.

Like the Grand Cherokee, the Commander is well-finished and luxurious inside, and its boxy styling is unmistakably Jeep. As with the Grand Cherokee, the V6 is anemic, and you’ll probably want to move into one of the two V8s. Like many three-row SUVs, the Commander is best described as “children in the back”; the third row is a tight fit for adults, and cuts into cargo space when the seats are up. Still, three-row vehicles are all the rage right now, and with Jeep’s long-held reputation and interior comforts, the Commander should find its market.

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