It's difficult to find much love for large, boxy, V8-powered SUVs these days, even with gas prices significantly lower than they were last summer. However, there are still those with valid reasons to look for a body-on-frame sport-ute with lots of horses – towing boats, trailers or, well, horses.
But all those Yukons and Expeditions and Durangos are virtually useless when the road gets more than a little rough – they’re usually equipped with big, low-hanging front fascias and fiberglass running boards. What’s really needed is a seven-seat V8-powered SUV created by the company synonymous with off-road expertise.
No, we're not talking about the latest Toyota Land Cruiser, but the venerable Jeep Commander. Created in 2006 in response to all of Jeep's competitors growing third row seats, the Commander is really a throwback to the old Wagoneer that stayed in production for 27 years.
The first thing you'll notice is the very upright styling, which owes much to the original Cherokee, albeit in 11/10th scale. The Commander is also unique in that its beltline is really low for a modern design, meaning visibility is really quite excellent. Because the rear seats are mounted higher than the fronts – what's referred to as stadium seating – in order to aid passenger comfort, the roof is actually stepped, although unlike the Nissan Xterra or GMC Envoy, the Jeep's is hidden by the standard roof rails.
Otherwise, the Commander's design is obviously aimed at aiding off-road ability, thanks to decent approach and departure angles. Under the skin, it looks remarkably similar to the Grand Cherokee, including the coil-sprung independent front suspension and beam-axle rear end.
More: 2009 Jeep Commander