Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pretty Just Doesn't Come into It

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Pretty Just Doesn't Come into It

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Scantlebury

I've tested a number of 4x4s recently which have had a recurring theme ( softer looks and more car-like manners, with off-road capability relegated to a minor issue. With the Commander, Jeep throws all that into reverse.

Here is a vehicle which proudly stands up for the Jeep heritage. It's all right angles and stitched-together cubes and has a design cue outside and in of Allen-head bolts, some of them doing nothing more than look rugged.

And rugged is what the Commander sets out to be, albeit a seven-seater toughie. There's plough-through-anything power from the Mercedes three-litre engine, 215bhp and a massive 376lb/ft of torque, with low-range facility, Jeep's Quadra-Drive II, electronic limited slip differentials, an electronic stability programme and a rollover mitigation system among its armaments.

Ground clearance of 218mm, high angle tolerance and a wading depth of more than 50cm reinforce the Commander's claim to be an off-roader of the highest order. It doesn't look pretty and it isn't meant to ( there's Jeep nostalgia at work here with the boxy looks and the near-upright windscreen. Even the dash is an oblong.

Whether there's European demand for this updated bit of American folklore is an obvious question ( the Euro version, modified, is built in Austria, by the way.

Jeep already has the Grand Cherokee running successfully in the urban tractor market, a vehicle which supplies the suspension and running gear here. I suppose the most important difference is that the Commander offers those seven seats, a first for Jeep.

They are laid out in three stadium-style rows, with a two-level roof facilitating headroom and, although visibility is great for everyone, there is still a somewhat cramped feeling at the back. The rear-most pair of seats are definitely for youngsters only.

On the credit side, full marks for providing a dedicated heating/cooling system for the rear of the vehicle and for a very simple operation for tumbling the seats into the floor. The optional DVD entertainment system in the second row is another proven winner with those carting kids about. …

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