The Thirstiest Jeep in Town
by Alex Taylor III

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Jeep Commander Limited 4X4 $43,700 (loaded)

Back Story: With third-row seating all the rage in SUV-land these days, Jeep longed to join the party but couldn't figure out a way to maintain its rugged off-road image at the same time. So it stretched a Grand Cherokee two inches in length and stepped up the roof in the rear by four inches (cleverly hiding the extra height with a roof rack). The result: a Jeep with which you can climb a mountain or car pool to soccer practice.

Test Drive: With its boxy shape and exposed screws, the Commander looks tough enough to handle even the most treacherous terrain. The 330-horse Hemi V-8 scoots it to 60 in eight seconds but drinks most of the oil reserves in the Middle East to get there. On a dash from Manhattan to Boston and back, I got an unacceptable 16 miles per gallon. The wide and comfy front seats made highway travel a breeze, but the Commander felt awkward parallel parking on a city street. At the dawn of the SUV age, the Commander would have won points for novelty and bravado. But in 2006 it feels anachronistic. I'm not buying one until it gets an ethanol engine--or I get that ranch in Montana. Top of page