What Happened with the Jeep Commander?

Published: 22nd February 2010
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Just months after its much publicized release, the 7 passenger Jeep Commander is a major disappointment for DaimlerChrysler to the point where it has become an albatross around the automaker's neck. Stung with bloated inventories in excess of 100 days - an industry killer - the Commander is now commanding discounts of over $5000 per vehicle. What went wrong? Plenty, especially if you read what the pundits and prognosticators have to say about the new Jeep.

No vehicle introduction should be problematic however, as for the Jeep Commander this model has fallen well short of sales goals. There are many reasons why the Commander may be failing to live up to expectations including:

High Fuel Prices - Gasoline pushing past $2.50 per gallon cannot help any SUV. With the Commander's three thirsty engine choices, the price at the pump can be painful. Yet, the even bigger Chevrolet Tahoe is selling well despite high fuel prices.

Dated Styling - Jeep mentions the Commander's "heritage exterior design" as one of the chief draws for the vehicle. Take one look at the Commander, and the styling cues of the 1984 Jeep Cherokee quickly come to mind. While some vehicles successfully incorporate "the look" of an earlier model without copying the style, the Commander looks awfully like the earlier Cherokee, only stretched out. Personally, I find the style to be dated and awkward.

Cramped Interior - Put the Commander up against the next biggest Jeep, the Gran Cherokee, and you will see that the interior space is just about the same. This is bad because the Commander comes equipped with a third row of seats so there should be more room. Many have complained that only two small children could fit in the last row which, incidentally, does not completely fold into the floor like the "stow 'n go" feature on the DCX minivans.

Overpriced - Fully loaded Commanders are retailing for well over $40,000. While this price range can be expected for the likes of a Yukon, Tahoe, or Expedition, it can't for the Commander. Of course, the Commander is bigger than the Gran Cherokee which is priced just under $40,000. However, if you put the two models side by side, many would say that the Gran Cherokee is the better of the two.

So, will DaimlerChrysler actually discontinue the Commander? That isn't likely. Instead, look for big rebates to remain in place and production to be permanently cut back. For the long term, DCX will need to give some serious consideration as to whether the Commander will remain part of the Jeep line up. In my opinion, if it does, it needs to be seriously overhauled in order to compete in today's marketplace.

In all, the Commander is a costly mistake for the automaker. During these times of strong and aggressive competition, the Commander is a misstep that cannot be ignored by DaimlerChrysler. Goodness knows the Commander is being ignored by Jeep faithful who are spurning the model altogether.

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