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New Jeep Commander Receives Warm Welcome
In spite of reported over-all declining sales in SUVs, Jeep has seen its two largest entries into this Auto segment enjoying surprising results for the month of October 2005. As reported in the article “Topic: Big trouble for big SUVs: Sales and prices of used-utes continue to slide” in an edition of the Automotive News, "Prices are falling, and they are falling fast," Webb says.
Sales of new large SUVs plummeted 48.1 percent in September from a year ago. For the first nine months of 2005, those sales were 15.5 percent below the same period last year.
Daimler-Chrysler reported that sales of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the newly available 2006 Jeep Commander were surprisingly strong during October 2005. Reported sales of the Grand Cherokee were 14,298 Grand Cherokees sold, a 6% increase from October 2004, and it was reported that there were 3,241 units for the Commander sold in October 2005. This sales figure was achieved in spite of the fact that the Commander was still being distributed to dealers during the month.
Why has Jeep been able to go against the tide? Maybe its because they are staying in touch with their past while offering improved technology and more features. This can be seen with Jeep’s latest introduction to their family, the Commander. The Commander is Jeep’s answer to the Ford Expedition, Chevy Tahoe, Cadillac Escalades, and Toyota Sequoias. In body style the Commander is a bit of a throwback, recalling the boxy design of the once popular Willys Station Wagon, the Jeep Wagoneer, and the more recent Cherokee. While Jeep returned to its roots in the body style, it has added quite a few new features and options. The more basic additions are a 3rd row of seating and stadium styled seating (each row is slightly elevated above the row in front of it), which offers a good view for all seats. Some outstanding features include All-Speed Traction Control System (TCS), BeltAlert, Digressive Load Limiting Seat Belt Retractors, Electronic Roll Mitigation, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Emergency Brake Assist, Enhanced Accident Response System, Parksense Rear Back-up Detection System, and the Tire Pressure Monitor and Warning Signal.
Many of the new technology systems are designed to improve vehicle handling and safety. ESP enhances driver control and helps manage directional stability under various driving conditions. When the system picks up a noticeable difference between the vehicle’s direction and the driver’s intended track, ESP offers selective braking and throttle control to place the vehicle back onto the driver’s intended path. The Electronic Roll Mitigation system monitors the vehicle’s roll attitude and lateral pressures to determine rollover potential. When necessary it will reduce engine torque along with a burst of braking applied to the appropriate wheel to assist in stabilizing the vehicle. In other words, it monitors, anticipates, and takes the necessary steps to help avoid rollovers. TCS improves mobility and helps to prevent wheel slippage when accelerating on slick driving surfaces. This system utilizes throttle control as well as the brake application of older traction systems. This state-of-the-art technology provides a more smooth and controlled response over past systems. Other available options are third seat comfort controls, a DVD entertainment system for the back, power sun-roof and Command-View skylights above the second row, digital read-out for tire pressure, alarm system, a hands-free communication system, a DVD navigation system, and Daimler-Chrysler’s patented SmartBeam headlamp system. An offroad package is also available that includes a steel transfer case skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, and all-terrain tires.
What about the engine? You can choose between two V-8 choices and a 3.7 liter V-6. An option sure to gain the automotive enthusiast’s attention, is the powerful 5.7 liter V-8 Hemi with Daimler-Chrysler’s Multi-Displacement System (MDS) option. MDS turns off unnecessary cylinders (up to 4) for maximizing fuel efficiency when the additional power is not needed. This system is said to boost fuel economy up to 20%! With MDS you have the power when you want it, but enjoy better fuel economy when you don’t.
There’s no mistaking it, the Commander is feature loaded and that’s probably why its been received warmly in the marketplace while other SUVs are taking a pounding. It’s not a complete love affair, however. The Commander already has its critics. In his article “2006 Jeep Commander” on http://www.autoblog.com, Dave Thomas states, “The Jeep Commander has to be one of the most unappealing vehicles, as far as appearance, we’ve seem in this site’s ten months of existence. In recent times, only the Pontiac Aztec has been uglier.” Later on he says, “I’m sorry DCX, this is the first misstep you’ve made since the 300.” While I agree with him that the Commander is boxy, I do not agree that it’s ugly. Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. To me, a long-time Jeep enthusiast, the Commander brings back memories of past Jeeps I mentioned earlier and this look should play well with other Jeep enthusiasts looking for an SUV. Further, the feature loaded Commander looks like it is priced to sell with a basic dealer MSRP of $27,290.00.
Volvo made the boxy look sexy with safety as its core feature, and who is to say that Daimler-Chrysler cannot do the same. The early vote says that this boxy-looking vehicle with its outstanding features is winning people over. Americans want safety on the road, and as long as gas prices do not go absolutely crazy again, it looks like demand will hold up well for this new feature packed SUV.
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