Ready for duty

Jeep is one brand whose name is more famous than its vehicles. Dinzo Tabamo takes time to know the product
Feb 16, 2009 Philippines Car Review - 2008 Jeep Commander 

The Jeep Commander has a badge that can trace its roots all the way to the Willys jeep that serviced troops in World War II. Its mission is to live up to the tough heritage of its forebears, symbolized by its badge, while ferrying its passengers today with a lot more comfort than its battle-hardened ancestors ever did.

When it comes to presence, the Commander passes its parade review with flying colors. It has a boxy shape that looks retro, but it doesn't look outdated when seen on the street, or in the showroom next to its sleeker Chrysler kin. There's a distinct impression that it's a large vehicle, but in reality it's only 3.1cm wider and 9.3cm longer than the Toyota Fortuner.

Like a well-polished pair of boots, the Commander's cabin literally shines via three sunroofs - one big sunroof in the usual place and two sunroofs over the second row (Jeep calls them ‘Command View Skylights'). Of course, all the sunroofs have shades that can be drawn for protection from our tropical sun.

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The dashboard and the controls look like those of a typical American SUV. They're utilitarian and functional: They work with the no-nonsense look and feel of the whole vehicle. The high seats and the sprawling view afforded by the tall height give the driver a feeling of control and confidence.

Out on the highway, the Commander is a good cruiser. Its 4.7-liter V8 engine pulls strongly, and the suspension can take any bumps our wretched highway system can dish out. But the soft under-pinnings don't resist when turning, and the body sways when you corner just a bit faster than usual.

Off-road, the Commander is not as extreme as its Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon sibling, but the ‘Trail-Rated' badge on its side attests to its off-road capability.

When my father, retired Major General Diosdado Tabamo, rode shotgun, he instinctively reached for the grab handle, a habit carried over from decades of riding in military jeeps. He was surprised that there was none in the usual area above the window. It was placed forward, just behind the A-pillar. Nevertheless, he liked the ride and the power. The Jeep may have evolved far beyond its fundamental Army origins, but it still ferries its passengers - military or not - with the reliability and character it's been known for.

Source: Top Gear Philippines, January-February 2008 

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