The Art of Customizing: How to tailor your SUV to your taste

Every individual tailors his or her choices to specific needs or tastes, be it clothing, travel, a home, or a partner. So why not do the same for a vehicle, especially since we spend so much time with it? Here?s how to do just that with two new SUVs.

2006 Jeep Commander2006 Jeep Commander: Monumental Elements!
If you?re going to name something ?Commander,? it has to live up to it. Though this vehicle is all new, its looks are a throwback to Jeep?s military heritage, with an imposing flat look. Commander looks like a full-size SUV, though it is based on the platform of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Our Jeep Com-mander is a Limited Edition, which includes standard chrome grille and front fascia, roof rails, premium fender flares, fog lamps, rain-sensitive windshield wi-pers, SmartBeam In-telligent Headlamp System (high beams activate themselves in low-light situations) and more. Auto manufacturers increasingly are offering their own aftermarket ac-cessories. Jeep has had a partnership with accessories manufacturer Mopar for years.

At Automotive Rhythms, we like to showcase the best of what a vehicle has to offer. The Commander offers a Mopar chrome accent package that includes tubular side-step rails ($425), chrome gas cap cover ($79) and door entry guards ($159). These and other accessories are available at AR also added some 20″ Rennen RC10 cast chrome wheels with a set of BFGoodrich 265/50/R20 G-Force all-season tires for gripping the road. The general manager at Darcars Jeep of Marlow Heights, Md., assisted in installing the products. After all the parts were on, the Commander looked real sweet! Rims and tires make a big difference to any ride and the Commander was no different.

2006 Custom Range Rover Sport Supercharged: The Bourne Supremacy
I definitely am not agent Jason Bourne, Robert Ludlum?s character in The Bourne Supremacy, who takes on the world of international espionage. But when you have at your disposal a supercharged Range with the power of a rhinoceros, the speed of a thoroughbred, the toughness of a soldier?s armor and the DNA of fine British motoring, you certainly feel close to being Mr. Bourne.

The Sport already is as sweet as pie on its own, but we added a few custom features. The Automotive Rhythms Flip My Whip campaign for the Range began in January when we decided to showcase it for a week in the Urban Restyl?n Salon at the 2006 Washington Auto Show. The response from viewers was unbridled adoration. The No. 1 attraction was the Ascot Collection grille from STRUT, the ?Cartier? of the grille industry. This $6,000 entr?e is more than jewelry for your ride; it?s a long-term investment for anyone seeking to dethrone the competition. Consisting of a woven, crimped mesh primary grille, a front air-dam intake and two side vents, the STRUT ensemble is platinum pure. Check out the gear at

Then came the 22″ x 9.5″ Rennen H2 rims, which are black with a polished lip and five chrome inserts. The manufacturer?s suggested retail price is $2,000 for the set (see We wrapped the rims in a set of 285/35 R22 Michelin 4 x 4 Diamaris Street/Sport Truck summer tires, designed to give your SUV simultaneous wet and dry traction. We especially like the rim protector bead, which helps prevent curb scratches on our Rennens. On, each tire goes for $371, so our set, including a spare, would be $1,855. Since the Range Rover Sport Supercharged rips through traffic with ease, we had to protect ourselves by installing a $1,700 Bluetooth-enabled CALIBRE Radar System from K-40 Electronics (

Kimatni D. Rawlins is the publisher of Automotive Rhythms and host of ?The Urban Automotive Experience.? Visit