Jeep Compass – First Ever Jeep Soft-Roader
Jeep Compass: Car-Based SUV Joins Jeep Lineup
With the launch of the Jeep Compass car-based SUV in the 2006 calendar year, Jeep customers get to decide if a car-based Jeep is still a Jeep. Though there will be two car-based Jeep SUVs to consider by the end of the year, the production Compass has been shown first with its Patriot stablemate coming later. The “talent” launchingthe Compassat the 2006 North American International Auto Show was Angie Harmon of Law and Order fame.
Vehicle Voice http://www.vehiclevoice.com and AutoPacific http://www.autopacific.com editors and analysts were on hand for the unveiling. Our take on the Compass is that it will do pretty well. Jeep has historically been narrow-cast with tightly defined Rubicon-capable sport utility vehicles. The Compass provides a softer counterpoint for buyers who value the Jeep nameplate but who don’t need the off-road capability of a traditional Jeep.
Interestingly, while it seems that nearly every other manufacturer is be jumping on the “crossover” bandwagon, the Compass is described simply as what it is: a compact SUV. As risky as offering a less-than-Trail-Rated Jeep is for the brand, they are not likely to add to the concern by promoting the Compass as anything other than an SUV, a move which we applaud.
The car underpinnings in this case are a version of the next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer shared platform. Both Compass and Patriot were previewed by concepts at the 2005 Frankfurt auto show in September. Compass sales are set for the third quarter of 2006.
Compass Adopts a Modern Look – Still Clearly a Jeep
Though the Compass will be offered with all-wheel drive, only the Patriot gets the Trail Rated badge. The Patriot has a more upright shape for Jeep loyalists (think new Commander or old Cherokee in a smaller, lower package) and Compass offers a sleeker, lower roofline. Both carry an unmistakable Jeep look, including the seven-slat grille, round headlights, and trapezoidal wheel openings. The Compass, however, offers a more steeply raked windshield, deep front fascia, and overlarge hood.
As an SUV slightly outside the core Jeep characteristics, the Compass is expected to expand Jeep’s audience. Instead of offering a boxy look and exceptional off-road capability, the Compass focuses on the road and offers a modern, more shapely exterior that still is easily indentified as a Jeep. The first Compass concept was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in January 2002, but has been shown several times, most recently at the 2005 New York auto show, and was followed by September 2005’s Compass Rallye.
Compass will be offered in standard and Limited models, both using a 172HP 2.4L DOHC 16v I4. Standard transmission is a six-speed manual, optional is a continuously variable unit. Standard features include side-curtain airbags, ESP, traction control, ABS, manual windows and locks, tilt steering wheel, and a sliding console armrest (to accommodate shorter drivers). Outside, a body-color grille and fascias, fog lamps, and seventeen-inch wheels are among the items on the standard list. Optional equipment includes AWD, heated cloth or leather seats, flexible 60/40 split-fold rear seats, a power package (bundles power windows, doors, locks with remote keyless entry, and one-touch driver’s window), an engine block heater, and cruise control. Choosing the Limited also puts a sunroof, eighteen-inch wheels, and AutoStick among the available options.