Three rows of seats are arranged in a stadium-type configuration with each row higher than the one in front of it. This is great for allowing all passengers a view out of the front windshield (and hence keeping motion sickness to a minimum), yet it yields a major problem with rear visibility. By the time you get to the third row, it's so high up that it blocks the vast majority of the rear window. Jeep recognizes the problem, but hopes that the Rear Park Assist helps the situation. The Rear Park Assist is only active if the car is in reverse, however, and most people drive there cars in … wait for it … drive (forward). The biggest danger I notice is when changing lanes. I need to see out the back to know when it's safe for me to move into the next lane.
Despite having a standard rollover sensor (Electronic Roll Mitigation), the Commander hasn't fared very well in the National Highway Transportation Administration's rollover test. The Commander received 3 stars out of 5, and shows a 22 percent chance of rollover if involved in a single vehicle crash.
On a more frivolous note, the way the car is designed results in the front visors being extremely far away from the driver. The technical explanation is that "the distance from the A pillar to the B pillar is longer than usual." At least it doesn't smack me in the face when I swing it to the side! However, once swung to the side and extended, there's still a 4 or 5 inch gap of side window not protected by the visor. The sun seems to eternally linger in this gap during my two-week test drive. It must be a conspiracy! Take note Commander owners, I've figured out how to fix the problem; simply don't drive north between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and sunset. This locks me out of driving the afternoon carpool, but heck, I don't really love that chore anyhow.
With the 2006 Jeep Commander's roomy and spacious interior, open and airy feel, a large family can fit comfortably. If certain issues are resolved in the future (specifically the rear visibility problem and a higher chance of rollover than I would settle for), I definitely see some potential there. Check back next year for another review and let's see how it does.
*The full archive of Mother Proof™ reviews can be found at www.MotherProof.com.