It's no accident that the new Jeep Commander's styling is reminiscent of the legendary Jeep Cherokee, says Chrysler's Trevor Creed.
"A lot of people were very, very upset when we got rid of the Cherokee - lots of letters from people saying that you abandoned the look that is pure, straightforward, honest Jeep.
"So we saw a great opportunity" with the Commander's styling, says Creed, senior vice president for design at the Chrysler group.
The Commander, inspired by the Cherokee that went out of production in 2001, has an upright windshield and rear end, as well as nearly vertical body sides and side glass.
The vehicle goes on sale this fall. It will be positioned as Jeep's flagship, a seven-passenger model that is a little taller and longer than the popular Grand Cherokee.
The Commander was unveiled Wednesday, March 23 at the New York auto show.
The SUV becomes the fourth model in Jeep's line, along with the Grand Cherokee, Liberty and Wrangler.
The Commander is 2 inches longer and 4 inches taller than the Grand Cherokee. The Commander rides on a 109.5-inch wheelbase, identical to that of the Grand Cherokee.
Under the skin, the Commander is a Grand Cherokee sibling, said Craig Love, vice president of the rear-wheel-drive product team.
"It is a good example of what we are trying to do at the Chrysler group, which is to develop top-notch rolling chassis and drivetrains and then do derivatives from them," Love said.
"The Commander shares basically everything below the floorpan" with the Grand Cherokee, Love said.
The Jeep Commander has an upright windshield.
Love and Creed were interviewed this year at Chrysler's proving grounds near Phoenix.
The Commander will be available with a 210-hp, 3.7-liter V-6; a 235-hp, 4.7-liter V-8; and a 330-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.Two transfer cases and three full-time four-wheel-drive systems also will be offered.
The Commander is the first Jeep with three rows of seats. They are arranged in theater style, which means each row is higher than the row in front of it.
To increase interior light, two fixed tinted-glass skylights are available. They are over the second row. Each skylight has a roller shade that can be pulled horizontally to block the light.
You may e-mail Rick Kranz at [email protected]