- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2005

Jeep is stretching the point for 2006 by adding third-row seating and more room and power to its sport utility lineup with the Commander, a name it can live up to.

Keeping the classic Jeep design in mind, the designers stretched the Commander to 188.5 inches in overall length, a height of nearly 72 inches, almost 2 inches longer and 2 inches higher than the Grand Cherokee (and 21 inches longer and about 3 inches higher than the original Cherokee, which is no longer made).

Both second- and third-row seats fold down to offer more cargo space when the people count is low. That way, if you don’t need the extra third-row seating, it can be lowered to increase rear-window visibility.

And as for off-road agility and capability, it’s one thing to see the Commander with one wheel dangling in midair at a special display and quite another to get that floating feeling when you are off in the woods, or should I say rocks and boulders, because that is where our test trail took us on Big Boulder Mountain in the Poconos in Pennsylvania.

The Commander didn’t lean in sharp curves on the highway, didn’t do a dance over road imperfections and didn’t frighten other drivers as much as I expected it to.

It didn’t feel as big as it was because of great suspension engineering; it was only when you parked it that you realized the space it demanded.

As gasoline prices do their off-the-chart climb, it’s nice to know that two available engines, the 3.7-liter V-6 and 4.7-liter V-8, require only unleaded regular gasoline.

And while the 5.7-liter V-8 Hemi, with 330 horsepower and 375 foot-pounds of torque appreciates its recommended 89-octane fuel, 87 octane is acceptable.

EPA highway mileage is 19 miles per gallon, but city mileage drops to 14 mpg for the 5,169-pound Hemi beast.

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