You can’t be everything to everybody. That’s the lesson we take away from the 2010 Jeep Commander. Nostalgic styling, off-road prowess, seating for seven and a luxurious interior seem to be too much to all fit into this midsize Jeep. It manages to meet these goals, but just barely and not without some significant drawbacks.
The Commander’s exterior styling is an obvious nod to the Cherokee from years past, but that Jeep’s boxy look is a bit too fresh in our minds to be considered “retro.” Inside, you’ll find a third-row seat — the Commander is the only Jeep product to offer one. However, there’s just not much interior room, and consequently, adults will find both the second and third rows rather cramped. To compound the space issues, the Commander holds significantly less cargo than its competitors.
The Jeep Commander attempts to increase its appeal with a few feature changes for 2010, but these improvements fail to address the larger issues. The previously top-shelf Overland trim has been dropped, leaving the trim level selection at just two, Sport and Limited. The midrange 4.7-liter V8 is also gone, meaning buyers have to choose the 5.7-liter V8 unless they want to get stuck with the woefully underpowered V6.
While the Commander’s combination of seven-passenger seating and respectable off-road credentials might hold some appeal for a select group of people, we suggest consumers look elsewhere. Full-size crossovers like the Ford Flex, GMC Acadia and Mazda CX-9 are better vehicles for daily use, thanks to their roomier interiors, higher fuel economy and better driving dynamics. And if you really do want a seven-passenger, do-it-all vehicle, Toyota’s fully redesigned 2010 4Runner manages to provide pretty much the same level of rugged off-road capability without nearly as many compromises.