Jeep Compass Proves It's What's on the Outside That Counts

2011_jeep_compass
As the least Jeep-like Jeep, the entry-level Compass has never gotten much respect. When it debuted in 2007, the awkwardly styled compact SUV was overshadowed by the significantly more Jeep-like Patriot. Aside from the looks, the two were otherwise identical.
 
Much to our surprise, the game has changed with the face-lifted 2011 Compass. New interest has revved up its sales, as the 2011 is outselling the original Compass during its inaugural year. July 2011 saw the Compass’ sales grow 240 percent compared with July 2010, up from 1,302 units to 4,430. The 2011 Patriot saw a modest increase of 7 percent, but it outsold the Compass by just 168 units.
 
We unanimously deemed the 2011 Compass a Loser in our Winners and Losers list when the SUV was revealed at the 2011 Detroit auto show. So what’s going on?

A big change for 2011 is new front styling that takes inspiration from the larger Grand Cherokee, which sparked its own sales renaissance when it was redesigned a year earlier. We spoke with Jeep’s head of product marketing, Jim Morrison, who said the newfound success is a combination of a number of things, but the Grand Cherokee styling strongly resonates with Compass buyers. That attraction is mirrored in Cars.com’s consumer reviews of the 2011 Compass:

  • “Many think it is a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.”
  • “I love the new front end, mimicking the Grand Cherokee.”
  • “The revised ’11 Jeep Grand Cherokee look is a huge improvement that garners many words of praise from countless others.”
  • “The styling puts it a new class of its own.”

Another big change for 2011 is the addition of a Trail Rated model, the brand’s off-road badge that marks special trim levels ready for off-road use. This certification has been missing from the Compass since its introduction and is now available with the Freedom Drive II Package, which includes a raised ride height, transmission with crawl ratio and underbody skid plates.
 
“Having a Trail Rated model made a big difference in dealer acceptance,” Morrison said.  “Completing the lineup with a ‘Trail Ratable’ Jeep is absolutely important to customers. Even if they don’t get the Trail Rated model, they get a sense of security.”
 
The Compass’ sales jump is interesting because other than those changes, its vitals remain unchanged. Gas mileage, engines and dimensions are the same as 2010. Plus, it’s more expensive than last year — now starting at $19,295 compared with 2010’s $15,365 — because of added standard equipment. That's for a front-wheel-drive model with a manual transmission EPA-rated at 23/29 mpg city/highway, which is competitive in this segment.
 
The Compass and Patriot were once equals, but Jeep has slotted the 2011 Compass ahead of the Patriot, which is now the entry-level-priced model starting at $15,995. That makes the higher sales even more significant for Jeep because the company is making more money on each sale versus 2007 or 2010.

By Joe Bruzek | August 12, 2011 | Comments (10)

Comments 

Bowrider

And it's no longer a rebadged Caliber, which was awful.

WTF

It never was. Rebadge = identical sheetmetal with the only differentiators being grille, emblems, molding, lighting

ermatthe

People don't wan't to spend a large chunk of their income on something they find unatractive?

Who knew?

othree

The name Jeep used to be synonymous with offroad potential. Now they have to put a sticker on the Jeep saying it's "Trail Rated".

Thanks, Chrysler, for watering down such a great American brand.

Oh, and thank you to the unscrutinizing Americans who want to say they own a Jeep, but don't really care what Jeep (used to) stands for.

Rt

Oh Jesus, seriously? Jeep (Chrysler) tries to branch out and this is the BS they have to deal with. If you want a traditional off road jeep, get one. The Grand Cherokee ain't a "Jeep" either and is competing with luxury SUVs. People aren't buying them for off road. But if you want off road, you can get a Jeep that fits your need.

Card13

I understand why people want to complain about Jeep not staying true to their heritage, but it's called good business. These "soft Jeeps" make money and that's the most important thing for the company to stay alive. You can have a "true Jeep" lineup, but don't be surprised when the brand goes out of business in a few years because not enough people need all the capability. If you want to go off-road, the Wrangler is still available

Dom

jeep has to branch out or go under,i can't wait for the mini Jeep.

Zack was right

Zack's comment on the "first look" article on this vehicle from Dec. 2010:

"This is going to be a huge success. It has the look of a much more expensive vehicle than what it really costs. That's a formula for huge sale numbers."

ZumaMBP

I cant take that robot head in center dash. Please understate/hide if you have to go cheap. Ruin great designs with awful interiors = Chrysler

Dan

JEEP PICKUP TRUCK PLLLLEEEEAAASSSEE!!!!!!! Ford got rid of the Ranger and everyone seems to be trying to get rid of small trucks. Perfect. I'll be the first to place my order if Jeep decides to bring a pickup here! Make it tough and make it capable as well!

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