We have been following the Chinese-market Jeep® Commander and its 7-passenger Grand Commander sibling closely, since the middle of last year, when our spy photographers caught an extended wheelbase Jeep Cherokee mule running around the Metro Detroit area. Since then, MoparInsiders.com has seen dozens of the Cherokee-based Jeep Commander prototypes in action on public roads, but now we are happy to report that the Jeep brand has officially launched its latest plug-in hybrid SUV, last week in China.
The all-new Jeep Commander PHEV is the first electrified vehicle in the global Jeep family and it also represents Jeep’s entry into China’s rapidly-growing New Energy Vehicle market. Right from the beginning of the development process, engineers from both North America and Europe received extensive input from their colleagues at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) China, regarding consumer and environmental requirements to bring this groundbreaking SUV to the leading New Energy Vehicle market in the world.
According to FCA China, both it and GAC-FCA (FCA’s joint venture in China) tested the vehicle and hybrid propulsion system over approximately 4.9 million kilometers (over 3.0 million miles) in a variety of conditions around the globe. FCA engineers also tested the vehicle’s connectivity features for more than 20,000 hours or over 300,000 kilometers (or over 185,000 miles).
The most crucial technology piece behind the all-new Jeep Commander PHEV is its innovative electrically variable transmission (or SiEVT). The SiEVT features two electric motors that are capable of driving the vehicle’s wheels. Unlike most conventional electrification architectures that dedicate one motor to serve as a generator and a second to deliver torque to the wheels, the Commander PHEV uses a one-way clutch that allows the generator motor to deliver torque to the wheels depending on the driving conditions. The outcome is an increased efficiency and seamless driving experience for the customer, no matter if the vehicle is in hybrid or electric models.
The Commander PHEV features a maximum pure electric range of about 70 kilometers (or about 43 miles) with a combined fuel consumption as low as 1.6L/100km (or about 147 mpg). That is a huge difference over the 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and its 3.6-liter Pentastar V6-based system. Unlike the Pacifica Hybrid. the Commander PHEV uses its innovative dual-motor SiEVT and pairs it with a specially-adapted version of the 2.0L GME-T4 turbocharged engine found on the Grand Commander.
The Commander PHEV features a rotary knob selector located in the center console that features four “E-drive modes” that the customer can select, depending on their preference. Those four modes are Hybrid, Electric, E-Save, and Sport.
- Hybrid is the default mode when the vehicle is started and automatically adapts for the most efficient usage of engine and battery power.
- Electric mode saves gas for later use by keeping the vehicle fully electric with a maximum range of 70 kilometers on a full charge. Under normal driving conditions, the top speed in electric mode is approximately 125 kilometers per hour (kph).
- E-Save mode maintains battery power so that the battery can be used later.
- Sport mode utilizes maximum engine and battery power to automatically adapt for performance driving.
Because certain Commander PHEV could go weeks or months on battery power alone, the average age of fuel in the gas tank is constantly monitored. The vehicle is programmed that if it needs to, it can automatically shift from electric mode to hybrid mode to use fuel that is more than 90 days old. This eliminates the customer needing to add fuel stabilizers to their fuel.
The Commander PHEV uses a 13-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is stored under the floor ensuring a roomy second row and rear cargo area. An exterior charge port has a charge indicator light inside the housing, while an additional charge indicator light is located on the instrument panel.
The battery pack can be fully recharged in about two hours if you are using a specific 220-volt / 30-amp charging station with the onboard 6.6-kWh charger. Using the electric vehicle charging equipment (EVSE), which comes as standard, the Jeep Commander PHEV can be fully recharged in approximately 8 hours. Charging times can be scheduled by the customer, to take advantage of off-peak rates.
The Commander PHEV is currently being built at the GAC-FCA plant in Changsha, China. While it is only available for the Chinese market, we hope that FCA will come to their senses and offer the vehicle here in North America.
While the Commander and Grand Commander are more urban-oriented SUVs, rather than the TrailRated vehicles the brand is known for, we believe that if FCA brought the vehicles to North America they would be an instant success. The Grand Commander would make an excellent Chrysler-based three-row SUV and the Commander PHEV would be a strong seller in Canada, where gasoline prices are high due to carbon taxes.
So what do you think of the new Jeep Commander PHEV? Would you buy one? Do you think it would be successful here in the North American region? Leave us your comments below.