This Jeep Commander Is Hiding Something Very Special


Could it preview a new powertrain to follow in America?

Remember the Jeep Commander? Chrysler offered it for five years as sort of a boxier alternative to the Grand Cherokee until it was discontinued in 2010. Well it's been alive and well in China, in a very different form. And FCA has just unveiled a new version at the Shanghai Auto Show, complete with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Previewed by the Yuntu concept (pictured bottom) at the same show two years ago, the Grand Commander is built in China for the local market, based on the Cherokee, with room for seven and very different styling from its American predecessor.

The new Commander PHEV, however, is a five-seater with an electrified powertrain. Its motivation comes in the form of a 2.0-liter turbo four with an as-yet undisclosed electric assist. All we know, for the time being, is that it can go for 70 kilometers (or about 43 miles) on battery power alone.

For what it's worth, the existing Grand Commander also packs a 2.0-liter turbo four, a version of the same found in the new Wrangler, Cherokee, and Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio. Plugged in, the powertrain could form the basis of the forthcoming Renegade PHEV.

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Though still yet to be revealed, FCA is currently gearing up to build the plug-in Renegade at its factory in Melfi, Italy. Hybrid versions of other Jeeps (including the Wrangler) are expected to follow as well.

The bigger question on our mind, however, is whether the Chinese-market Commander will ever port over to Jeep's home market here in America. The answer is likely "no,” at least not as a Jeep. But rumors have been circulating that it could form the basis of a new crossover to be sold as a Dodge or Chrysler – with or without the plug-in hybrid powertrain.