2006 Jeep Commander V6; photo by Greg Wilson. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
By Chris Chase
Introduced in 2006, the Jeep Commander was the solution to the lack of a seven-seater SUV in the brand’s line-up. Based on the popular Grand Cherokee, the Commander benefited from that donor vehicle’s generally well-done appointments and was dressed in sheetmetal that bore more than a passing resemblance to that of the dearly-departed Cherokee.
Engine choices mirrored those of the Grand Cherokee, starting with a 3.7-litre V6 (210 hp/235 lb.-ft.), moving up through a 4.7-litre V8 (235 hp/305 lb-ft) to the range-topping 5.7-litre Hemi V8 (330 hp/375 lb.-ft.). In 2009, the 4.7-litre engine was redesigned and gained 70 horsepower for 305 total and 334 lb-ft of torque. The Hemi V8 also got variable valve timing and boosted output to 357 hp and 389 lb.-ft.
All three engines were paired with a five-speed automatic transmission that was in turn bolted to one of three four-wheel drive systems: Quadra-Trac I (no low range, full-time four-wheel drive); Quadra-Trac II (full-time active 4WD with electronically-selectable low-range gearing) and Quadra-Drive II (low-range gearing, and electronic limited-slip front, centre and rear differentials).
2006 Jeep Commander V6 (top, by Greg Wilson) and 5.7-litre, by Grant Yoxon. Click image to enlarge
Fuel consumption for 2006 models was rated by Natural Resources Canada at 14.8/10.9 L/100 km (all figures listed as city/highway) with the V6, 15.6/10.7 L/100 km for the 4.7-litre V8 and 16.5/11.2 L/100 km with the 5.7-litre engine. The addition of variable valve timing to the 5.7-litre engine helped improve fuel consumption to 15.7/10.6 L/100 km.
Consumer Reports gives the Commander a “much worse than average” used vehicle reliability rating and notes a whole slew of items to watch for, which are detailed below.
Engine stalling has been a problem since shortly after the Commander’s arrival in showrooms as a 2006 model. One cause is a faulty transmission fluid filter that essentially chokes the flow of fluid through the transmission and causes the engine to shut down. Another potential cause is an overly-sensitive ignition switch; knock the keychain with a knee while driving and the switch will move out of the “run” position and shut the engine off. Read this thread for information and anecdotal tales of woe.
A climate control blower that vibrates “as if the bottom is falling out of the truck” is common. The cause is a piece of mastic (sticky stuff, basically) that comes loose from the truck body and gets stuck to the blower, putting it out of balance and making it vibrate like mad. The solution is to take out the blower and, at best, remove the offending foreign object and put the blower back; at worst, the blades of the blower will be damaged and it’ll need to be replaced. Either way, this is a task that can be tackled by a handy owner who wants to avoid an out-of-warranty repair.