2008 Jeep Commander Performance
The 2008 Jeep Commander's strong off-road capabilities mean compromises in on-road performance, leading to a low performance ranking within the class. While it lacks the smooth ride and handling of competitors, the Washington Post reports that the Commander is "an exceptionally easy, agreeable, obedient truck to drive."
The Commander's engines include a base 3.7-liter V6, a 4.7-liter V8 and a 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Two five-speed automatic transmissions are available. Auto Mall USA says, "On the highway, the Commander is a notably smooth and comfortable cruiser." However, some reviewers find that the Commander's bulk makes handling difficult. The Commander "offers a truck-like ride and handling, which means it's less comfortable and stable on pavement than a car," reports Forbes.
Acceleration and Power
The base Jeep Commander Sport has the standard 3.7-liter V6 capable of 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. Kelley Blue Book claims, "The standard 3.7-liter V6 is adequate on- or off-road with light passenger and cargo loads, but would be underpowered with heavier loads or at higher altitudes." Consumer Guide adds the V6 "has surprising spirit, with adequate power off the line and around town, though it labors in highway passing."
The Limited model is a bit more powerful, and comes with a 4.7-liter V8 that generates 305 horsepower and 334 pound-feet of torque. According to CarsDirect, it's "an excellent choice, with responsive acceleration performance for working through traffic and fuel economy just slightly lower than the 3.7 V6." New for 2008, this V8 engine is flex-fuel capable. Still, for "even more oomph," Edmunds recommends the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 because "it's capable of a far more athletic 330 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque."
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the rear-wheel-drive Jeep Commander with the V6 engine gets 14 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on the highway. The four-wheel-drive V6 gets the same. The Commander's new Flex-Fuel engine should achieve 9 mpg in the city and 12 on highways using E85 fuel and four-wheel drive. With rear-wheel drive, the highway figure changes to 13 mpg.
All models come equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Handling and Braking
Reviewers agree that the Commander's handling is good for an SUV that's designed for heavy off-roading, but off-road capability means that on road performance lags behind competitors. After a test drive, AutoWeek thinks, the handling is "truck like" though it does note "Highway tracking is excellent, and it is very stable on the road."
The Jeep Commander received some outstanding marks with regard to steering. Kelley Blue Book says, "Steering is nicely weighted and fairly precise, while the on-road ride is surprisingly quiet and smooth." Auto Mall USA adds, "Its rack-and-pinion steering feels more precise than in many truck-based SUVs."
Despite some praise, the Commander is too big for some reviewers to handle. Car and Driver notes, "But it sure is a big ol' dog at 5263 pounds and 21 inches longer than the extinct Cherokee it so earnestly hopes to mimic. The Commander's steering is a hair too lazy off-center and more or less numb."
Overall, reviewers are not impressed with the Commander's brakes. AutoWeek reports "We experienced some dive on braking, and after two stops the brakes were smoking. The 147 feet the Commander uses to stop from 60 mph is a greater distance than the other SUVs in the group." Cars.com says the brakes "are mushy in all three models."
One stand-out attraction to the Jeep Commander is in its ability to drive off the road. Edmunds says, "Taken off-road, the Jeep proves to be a capable machine thanks to its sufficient ground clearance, ample wheel travel and low-range 4WD." AutoMedia.com says "It's probably true that Jeep owners are more likely to venture off-road than owners of any other SUV make. And even if they don't, they want to know that they can." After an off-road test drive, Motor Trend reports "the Commander easily pulled through sand and mud and over large rocks and downed trees." The adds "There's plenty of muscle and off-roading ability here."