Jeep is enjoying its greatest sales success in its 75-year history. And with models like the Wrangler, Renegade, Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee, it’s easy to see why. But there are two other models in its lineup, and they just don’t seem to fit in the picture anymore. The Patriot and Compass are compact crossovers, and they actually still sell in strong numbers. But they’re dated and share the same platform, and that’s been around since the 2007 Dodge Caliber. As the rest of the Jeep lineup soars, the Patriot and Compass are a throwback to when Chrysler was in the throes of bankruptcy. Their styling and interiors are dated, they’re woefully underpowered in base trims, and they seem to be the darlings of rental fleets across the country (ask us how we know).
So we weren’t sad a few years ago when Jeep announced that the Patriot and Compass would be replaced with a single new model for 2017. But parent company Fiat Chrysler’s long term plans have recently changed, and it’s decided to keep the Compass. Before we even had a chance to gripe, Jeep revealed the second-generation model in Brazil, and you know what? It looks great. Really, surprisingly great.
The all-new crossover still occupies the same space in the Jeep lineup — slotting between the compact Renegade and midsize Cherokee — but it looks like it will do everything better. No longer a boxy amalgam of past and present models, the Compass is muscular and purposeful looking, like a cross between the Renegade and Grand Cherokee. Inside, the model has finally entered the 2010s, replacing acres of shiny hard plastic and dated switchgear with soft-touch surfaces and a design that helps it fit in with the rest of the Jeep lineup.
The 2017 Compass bowed at FCA’s Pernambuco, Brazil plant, and will make its official debut this fall at the Los Angeles Auto Show. While the current Compass and Patriot are built in Belvidere, Illinois, the new model will be built for North America in the Toluca, Mexico plant. FCA hasn’t announced the future of the Belvidere plant, but its reportedly considering moving Cherokee production there to make room in Toledo for the 2018 Wrangler.
Jeep has big plans for the Compass, expecting to sell it in 100 different countries, with 17 different powertrain options. This should add up to even more sales growth. Jeep sold over 1.2 million units worldwide in 2015, a 22% increase over ’14, and is expected to see its fifth consecutive growth year this year. And while they aren’t great, the Patriot and Compass are a big part of this success, accounting for over 20% of Jeep sales in America. We think that as a more refined, focused, more Jeep-like model, the new Compass can go a long way in helping Jeep hit its ambitious goal of selling 1.9 million units worldwide by 2018.
Part of what made Jeep’s current crossovers a tough pill to swallow for purists was their discomfort off-road. But according to Jeep, this new model will have “best-in-class 4×4 off-road capability,” and will finally get the rough-and-tumble Trailhawk package — something that’s sorely missing from the current model.
So after a decade of selling a crossover built on a warmed-over Dodge platform, the Compass will finally begin to live up to its Jeep name. Strong sellers aren’t always great cars (see: the current Compass and Patriot), but with a successful nameplate, a seriously good-looking redesign, and a chassis that isn’t afraid to leave the pavement, the new crossover could be Jeep’s latest big hit. We never thought we’d say this, but we can’t wait to drive this Jeep Compass.