Intrepidation

Jeep Compass

53 posts in this topic

30 March 2006

By Jonny Lieberman

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The non-Trail Rated, four-wheel drive Jeep Compass; in repose.

Grizzly Pete owned a Jeep. My college roommate's idea of a relaxing weekend: drive into Death Valley with a handgun and a knife and forage for food and water. Pete didn't need GPS; he could navigate via stars reflected off tortoise shells. Heated seats? He'd rub two Gila monsters together until they burst and spread their warm innards on his chair. Parking radar? Pete was the master of the dry lake reverse bootlegger's turn. And if Pete gouged his truck on the razor sharp spines of a Joshua tree, so much the better. A Jeep looked more like Jeep with trail damage. Amen.

Flash forward (mumble) years. I've spent a week putting (15 MPG) and blasting (8 MPG) around Los Angeles in a Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. Yeah, it's got a HEMI, complete with cylinder deactivation/vasectomy. It was also equipped with a six-disk in-dash changer, Sirius satellite radio, a rear seat DVD player, adjustable pedals, heated leather seats, dual-climate zones, auto brights, a GPS navigation thingy, ParkSense (backup beeping), traction control, a manu-matic gear grabber and blingy chrome rims. I'd no sooner take this luxochariot off-road than I'd take Pete's battered Jeep down Rodeo Drive.

If I paid $43,830 for it, that is. Since I didn't, I drove it off a cliff. Then, with the help of Jeep's astounding Quadra-Drive II 4WD system and bona fide low-gears, I climbed back up. After that, I found a mud bog and did enough donuts to tank Krispy Kreme's stock. Off-road adventure accomplished, I slid the Cherokee into neutral, flipped the switch for the transfer case and calmly drove off to grab a beer. No question: the gussied-up Grand Cherokee is still a real Jeep.

Why wouldn't it be? Like virtually all Jeep products, it wore the coveted "Trail Rated" badge. To earn this distinction, Jeep vehicles must satisfy the brand's criteria for a "proper" off-roader. Here's the boilerplate: "The Jeep Trail Rated® badge certifies that the vehicle has been designed to perform in a variety of challenging off-road conditions identified by five key consumer-oriented performance categories: Traction, Ground Clearance, Maneuverability, Articulation and Water Fording.” Grand Cherokee? Yup, yes, absolutely, uh-huh and you betcha. And now… the new Jeep Compass.

Aside from the fact that Jeep's soon-to-be-released trucklette is uglier than a casino lobby at 7am, the Compass will be a terrific Jeep-- for antiquing and wine-tasting. That's right; you guessed it: the Compass won't be Trail Rated. It will never cross the Rubicon, no matter how big the tires. Although the Compass isn't the first Jeep bereft of the badge-- 2WD versions of the Liberty and Grand Cherokee share that dubious distinction-- it will be Jeep's first non-Trail Rated AWD vehicle. And proof positive that the brand is ditching its off-road roots in pursuit of soccer moms and style conscious left brainers.

These are the same oxymorons who calmly insist that a passenger vehicle that can mount a 50 degree incline is as useful as a dyslexic accountant. While it's true that current Jeep buyers don't climb every mountain or see a stream and automatically think there's a ford in their future, they find their Jeep's untapped capability endlessly reassuring and secretly thrilling-- like a condom in their wallet or America's nuclear arsenal. The Compass reveals a radical change in Jeep's marketing strategy, an attempt to court “non-traditional buyers.” Or, if you prefer, they're chasing people willing to trade the actual, honest-to-God possibility of off-roading for the mere foggy idea of it.

Wrong answer. Does Daimler Chrysler really believe that buyers will stroll into their local Jeep dealer, have a look at the Grand Cherokee and ask if they have anything with a little less machismo? Maybe DCX is hoping potential customers will see the Jeep logo and brand design cues, assume off-roading ability, clock the lower price, sign-up and, please God, avoid the rough stuff. If so, it's a cynical marketing ploy that will bite the brand on its ass. A brand's identity flows from its products, not to them. A Jeep that can't survive Death Valley sells off the backs of the ones that can. And dishonors them all.

The Compass shows that Jeep has lost its bearings. Even if it sells well, it's an SUV that seems specifically designed to alienate the Grizzly Petes of this world, who gave the brand its cachet in the first place. In fact, I doubt the Compass will be a sales success. Aforementioned donuts to dollars, the faux Jeep will mimic the appeal of Land Rover's Freelander: unloved, unwanted and, most importantly, unsellable. But the Compass' effect on the Jeep brand will be incalculable. Like Buick, Lincoln, Mercury, Pontiac, Saturn and Saab, it will condemn the company to becoming yet another American automotive nameplate with no clear mission or purpose, slowly heading off-road for all eternity.

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Yep...non-trail rated and ugly...what were they thinking?

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Totally agreed-except I think Compass is stylish-somewhat-but it should NOT be a Jeep-and what is the point of the Patriot again since Compass and Patriot seem to have the same purpose?

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Totally agreed-except I think Compass is stylish-somewhat-but it should NOT be a Jeep-and what is the point of the Patriot again since Compass and Patriot seem to have the same purpose?

Remember the original Compass concept? Now THAT looked cool..I also don't see the point of both the Patriot and the Compass

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More female designed Jeeps (to appeal to some current and new buyers):

Compass

Liberty

Grand Cherokee

More male designed Jeeps (To appeal to off road enthusiasts and crazy Jeep people):

Patriot

Wrangler

Commander

It looks to me like the Compass is the only non trail-rated Jeep on the list while still looking at a broader customer base... and there are reports of a rally compass coming soon that could make me feel better about it's wussiness..

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Jeep is doing SIMPLY what they HAVE to do in order to survive.

Is building a Jeep Compass any worse than Porsche coming out with an SUV.....? Well Porsche certainly hasn't been hurt by the Cayenne......

Remember this.....Compass may not be "Trail-Rated" but you can probably count on the fact that it WILL be the most off-road-capable of the "cute-ute" AWD crossovers....(Escape, RAV-4, etc.)

Caliber is getting really good early reception at the dealerships, and is getting decent reviews in the mags. This only bodes well for Compass.

About Jeep "heritage." I LOVE my Liberty because of it's sturdy feel, off-road capability, towing capacity, torquey 3.7L, and chunky looks (compared to Escape, CR-V, etc.) However, even I can admit that for the vast majority of consumers out there looking for an SUV in this size and price class, Liberty is too small inside, too overweight, and too thirsty to be a class-leader.

Compass will help to pick up some of those consumers that want the Jeep style and image, but with more car-like attributes.

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IMO, the Jeep Compass is the ugliest, poorest-executed, and worst product since the Pontiac Aztec. In fact, the Compass and the Aztek have much in common when describing their shortcomings in terms of design and execution.

I was really hoping Jeep (as with Pontiac) could pull this vehicle off. A four door WRC-inspired wagon? Great idea. Unfortunately, from the looks off this wobbly vehicle, it doesn't look like it could take on the streets outside of the dealer lot. Ouch.

Edited by red

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The Compass is a flop waiting to happen.

No, not because it's without the "Trail Rated" badge, but because it's among the most hideous vehicles to ever debut. Period. Comparisons to the Aztek are spot-on. In fact, I'd venture to say that the Compass' front-fascia is worse than the Aztek.

Consumers in the market for a car-based SUV don't know nor care what "Trail Rated" means. Unfortunately for Jeep, they are well aware of how downright ugly the Compass is. I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriot takes it's place within a few years.

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It really is ugly. It's like they tried to stretch a Wrangler over a Caliber. Theys hould have designed a 4-door version of the Compass concept from a few years ago. That looked good...this does not.

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.....  Unfortunately, from the looks off this wobbly vehicle, it doesn't look like it could take on the streets outside of the dealer lot.  Ouch.

Oh, the poor non-Trail Rated Compass.....it won't be able to make it over pot holes! :rolleyes:

Or will it?

Posted Image

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Oh, the poor non-Trail Rated Compass.....it won't be able to make it over pot holes! :rolleyes:

Or will it?

Posted Image

hmm :scratchchin:

But...it still ain't pretty.

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In fact, I'd venture to say that the Compass' front-fascia is worse than the Aztek. 

Not even in your WILDEST dreams.

Aztek is a bastard all its own......Compass is FAR better....far more professionally executed....with a much more cohesive interior as well....

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Not even in your WILDEST dreams.

Aztek is a bastard all its own......Compass is FAR better....far more professionally executed....with a much more cohesive interior as well....

Notice how I stated the Compass' front-fascia is arguably worse. I never made mention of the interior. And I firmly stand by my statement. Bash the Aztek all you want, but when it comes to design, I fail to see what makes this:

Posted Image

Any worse than this:

Posted Image

The Compass is every bit the bastard the Aztek was, the only difference being that Jeep should've learned from Pontiac's mistake. When it comes to a cohesive design (your words, not mine), the Aztek actually has the Compass beat. The Aztek's front-fascia has design elements that actually work together, whereas the Compass' is a mess of awkward angles and droopy, mis-matched styling cues. Is it that wonderful Jeep grille that gives the Compass the edge? Becuase otherwise I'm at a complete loss.

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One thing that escapes me about the production Compass are the fender cheeks beneath the headlamps. What the hell is the point of those?

Agreed with Bimmer re: the Aztek. You may say its ugly and that's fine, but there is some sort of rhyme and reason to it.

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That color is horrible, but the front fascia doesn't look that horrible in person, and from other angles.

Posted Image

lol actually yeah it does...maybe worse from that angle. They should have made it look like this:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

See how much better that looks?

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But what baffles me is that even the 2005 "concept" version had a better front end.

Posted Image

Edited by Dodgefan

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I haven't been following the Compass or anything, but I'm gonna take a guess... rebadged Caliber?

More like rebodied Caliber.. it's sibling the Patriot looks nicer, though, iMHO... (a lot like the old XJ Cherokees).

Posted Image

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Wow, I didn't know Jeep was in bed with Nissan. It looks like an Exterra and a Liberty got it on and produced an ugly red headed step child!

:lol:

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Why on earth does this thing have a mazda 3 greenhouse? Totally wrong for a Jeep :nono: Give it an aspen looking nose and leather seats and its a chrysler whatever (diplomat or new yorker would work) DC needs some fresh air

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