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Jeep Commander 2006 review

Yet the Jeep Commander also has a soft and almost environmentally friendly side for a big, ugly Yank tank.

Oh yes, there are two powerful, fuel-guzzling V8s in the line-up: There's a 4.7litre V8 that pumps out 170kW of power and 410Nm of torque and costs $54,990 to $66,990 depending on specification; and an even bigger $71,990 5.7 litre V8 Hemi that roars with 240kW or power and 500Nm of shaft-twisting torque.

But they churn through fuel like there's no tomorrow, even the Hemi with Multi-Displacement System where half the cylinders shut down when not under load to improve fuel economy.

In between these two, in terms of money and power, is the three-litre V6 turbo diesel at $59,990 in standard trim and $69,990 with bells and whistles, pumping out 160kW of power.

Where this oil-burner exceeds expectations is in its fuel economy and its enormous 510Nm of hill-climbing, cargo-pulling, meat-grinding torque.

And yet, inside this big ugly beastie with all that grunt is a tame suburban seven-seater people mover that mum can use to take half the soccer team to the big game.

I had a standard diesel for a week and found it had sensible around-town manners that will win over just about any driver with fuel economy between 12.3litres per 100km on the highway and 13.9 around town. Might sound like a lot, but not for a vehicle this size.

The only problem is poor rear vision.

Inside, the second and third row of seats are higher than the front row. It's called stadium seating and it's great for the rear passengers. No claustrophobia here, especially if you get the two rear skylights as a $2700 option.

But there is simply no rear vision and without rear parking assist, you will need a signal man with those big lollipop sticks to guide you into a parking bay. That is the downside of such a big ugly mother.

Chrysler's 300C has paved the way for big ugly Yank tanks and this is about as big and ugly a Yank tank as you can get.

Actually it isn't. In the US, it would look kinda puny compared with a Silverado and some other huge pick-ups and SUVs. Besides, despite its imposing looks, the seven-seater is shorter, lower and only 24mm wider than Toyota's seven-seat Prado.

But it's longer, wider, higher than a Grand Cherokee and $1000 more.

Despite appearing to have the streamlining of a brick, Jeep claims it has the same drag co-efficient as the Grand Cherokee.

There is little wind and road noise on the highway, so they could be right.

It certainly sounds quite civilised around town and all those who got into it were astounded to learn it was a diesel. There is hardly any discernible diesel rattle audible in the cabin.

Drive is supplied by the Grand Cherokee's competent Quadra-Drive II system which is more than enough for shopping centre speed bumps and mounting the kerb to park on the grass beside the soccer field.

On the national launch a couple of months ago in the middle of Outback NSW, it also conquered big rocks

and steep hills, so we thought it would

be a good idea to let some air out of

the Goodyear Wranglers and run it up the beach to see how it went.

It wasn't much of a test as rain had hard-packed the sand on the Freshwater track at Rainbow Beach.

The Commander simply tackled it like it was a suburban carpark. I didn't even need to engage low range for the charge on to the beach or through any of the steeper sections.

And on the Cooloola forest track, the slippery clay hardly rated as the sophisticated traction controls kept the nose straight.

So it's a pretty handy brute of a truck that will carry seven people in luxury to just about anywhere you want to go.

That's not to say I don't have some concerns:


  • Lack of rear vision.


  • No room for the driver's left foot.


  • You need two feet on the brake to get some pressure, then they grab.


  • Tyres feather quickly on the road because of the weight of the car.


  • No audio controls on the wheel and the volume knob is way over on the left.


  • Handbrake is on the left of the centre console.


  • Bonnet release is in the passenger's foot well.


  • Steering wheel is not adjustable for reach.


  • It's a long reach to adjust the rearview mirror or the visor.


  • A lot of hard plastic on the dash and door trim.


  • With the third row of seats up, there is no luggage room.


    Still, if you want to make a bold statement, there are few other options as exciting.

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Range and Specs

(base) 3.0L, Diesel, 5 SP AUTO $10,120 – 13,860 2006 Jeep Commander 2006 (base) Pricing and Specs
Limited 5.7L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $10,120 – 13,860 2006 Jeep Commander 2006 Limited Pricing and Specs
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