Commander 112 and 114
The Commanders are interesting because they are the plush BMW/Mercedes of the single engine world. The planes have roomy wide cabins (ever looked in a little Cessna--you're bumping elbows with the person seated next to you, and we won't even talk about the back seat), zippy styling with their trademark cruciform tail, fancy leather interiors, and instrument panels that are the envy of much larger planes. They also have an extremely good safety record and are supposed to be really easy to land gently. The major knock on them would be that for the level of horsepower they have they are not as fast as some other planes, nor as fuel efficient. This is because the wide roomy cabin tends to produce more drag than a more cramped plane such as a Mooney. The performance disadvantage is not that great however, since the Commanders cruise at about 160 knots. The difference between a Commander and another plane that's 20 knots faster may not amount to that much time unless you are flying clear across the country. I find its good to get out and stretch the legs rather than fly for too many hours on end anyway.
Pix of New Commander 115: $450K
Commanders have nice lines, don't they?
Look how much legroom for the rear passengers
How about that plush interior?
Panel has Sandel HSI, Dual Garmin 430's, and Weather Radar!
Commanders can be had for fairly reasonable prices if you look at the earlier models. I favor the Commander 112TC, which is the turbocharged model. Living in California, I have ot deal with mountains in almost any interesting direction I may fly, and the turbocharging offers an extra margin of safety under those conditions. You can get a very nice 112TC in the $90-$120K range. This will be a plane that has good paint, probably a newer (redone) interior, and good avionics. The Commanders will also tend to be fairly low time airplanes. They can get to be hangar queens because they are often the play toys of wealthy pilots who wind up not having enough time to really rack up the hours.
Pix of Commander 112TCA: $90-120K
Same Sweet Lines as the 115...
Plush interior after redoing it...
Cool Carbon Fiber Panel, Avionics are good, but not as nice as the 115's.
But they can be replaced for a fraction of the cost difference.
The 112's were the first incarnation. These were followed by the 114 and then the 114B. The latest planes made by the factory are called 115's. The planes are all very similar, it's just that there has been a steady program of improving the breed, much like Porsche evolved the air-cooled 911 over the course of many years. Turbocharged models are called, "TC", "TCA", or "Grand Tourisimo". The original 112's are pretty doggy performers without turbocharging, so I'd steer clear of them. Later models do okay without the turbo, but better with.
Links for Commander enthusiasts:
All material © 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.