By on March 9, 2011

When we first heard that the updated Jeep Compass would be “Trail Rated,” a number of commenters pointed out that the term “Trail Rated” is little more than a Jeep marketing phrase, and argued that the Compass had no business pretending to be a true off-roader. Well, according to this picture, which Michael Karesh found on Jeep’s website, the upgraded Compass will even go so far as to offer that talisman of off-road capability, a solid front axle. Unless, of course, this is actually a misplaced picture of a Wrangler, which it almost certainly is. Oh well…

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34 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Jeep Finds Its Moral Compass (By Accident?) Edition...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I guess anybody who said FIAT isn’t serious about this and just wants to use Chrysler to get a toehold in the U.S. market should simply stop talking now.
     
    I’m liking Sergio more and more everyday and I’m no Chrysler fanboy.  (Yeah he’s had some goofy ideas like keeping Lancia alive the way that he’s planning to, but dang I’m starting to think the fundamentals are solid.  I’m thinking I’m gonna go test drive Chrysler products when I start looking for a vehicle.)

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Exactly.  Chrysler keeps surprising me with this sort of attention to detail on products that we had all written off.  I wouldn’t buy one, but the Compass has become a fairly decent vehicle.  And the all-new stuff like the Grand Cherokee and 300 are pretty damn good.
       
      Moreover, FIAT really seems to be on the ball.  Whether or not they ultimately dump Chrysler and Dodge down the road is secondary in my mind.  They actually want to use the resources they’ve inherited from Chrysler, build upon them and compete in this market.  And the fact they’re rebadging big Chryslers as Lancias for mainland Europe is promising for the future of both brands.
       
      Yet the common assumption is that Chrysler is a joke while GM is back and better than ever.  I’ve become more and more convinced the opposite is true.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Dammit.  Upon closer inspection that’s a Wrangler and I’m a fool.  So much for my reading comprehension.
       
      Still, everything I said about Chrysler still goes.  Just overhaul the IT staff.

  • avatar

    To give credit where credit is due, rather than where many in the media will likely allocate it, Cerberus spearheaded the changes we’re seeing for 2011. It’ll be another year or two before we see FIAT’s impact on the product. Though we are already seeing it on the marketing.
     
    How much credit is due? I’ve got a Grand Caravan review in the queue for Friday.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Mike, with all due respect I wish you would review the 200. You are the only one I trust that would give it a fair assessment. The JGC has been reviewed everywhere and we all know it’s a very good vehicle already. Why go where everyone else has been?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      That would be Caravan, not Cherokee

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Doh!  But, Jack Baruth reviewed the Chrysler T&C already and they are pretty much the same thing, so my point still stands.

    • 0 avatar
      friedclams

      I look forward to your Caravan review… a vehicle I might actually buy (it fits the bill in a check-the-boxes way). I’m particularly interested if the seats are bearable, apparently the old version’s were awful.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    How is a solid axle attention to detail?  Modern Rovers do not have solid axles, are they not trail rated?  (answer: no, because it’s a bullsh1t marketing term that has nothing to do with capability).

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, it’s a lack of attention to detail that led to a photo of the underside of a Wrangler on the Compass page. Chrysler’s sites have long been the shoddiest in the business. They’re a little better this year, but still have a way to go. Makes entering the pricing and specs for Chryslers into TrueDelta’s database a challenge I dread every year.

    • 0 avatar

      Guys, that’s a photo-mix up. You’re looking at the underside of a Wrangler. See the frame, longitudinal engine, etc. That’s not a Compass, which shares a platform with the Dodge Caliber.

  • avatar
    Buster Brew

    The longitudinally placed engine is another clue to the “Wranglerness” of the photograph.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, that and the transfer case dead center. And, of course, the live front axle.
       
      I saw this as something of a Freudian slip. They so badly want the Compass to have off-road cred that they slipped up and put a Wrangler photo on the page.

  • avatar
    Facebook User

    I own a 2 door Wrangler Rubicon and spend a lot of time under it for various suspension tweaks, fluid changes, skid plates installs and general inspection…and thats exactly what the above photo shows –  a 2 door Rubicon.
    I would really enjoy a Compass with front and rear solid axles though…like an old Cherokee

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I have always admired the Compass from a distance and in the showroom.  It offers quite a value in an 4WD package, without the bloat found in many other products with the same basic features.  I also really like its roominess.
     
    It will be interesting to see how the Trail-Rated Compass does in a review, particularly for on-road comfort with that solid axle up front.
     
    Maybe some TTAC Compass owners can weigh in on what they think of this option.

  • avatar

    Sounds just like Fiat praise up a car that doesnt exist and the suckers will pay. then it falls apart in your driveway.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I still point and laugh at the domestic 4×4 and off road magazines in this country, especially when they dust off their “SUSPENSION WARS! Which is better: solid axles or IFS?” dog and pony show.They still work under the misconception that a fully independent suspension system can’t be seriously considered for off road use.

    Yes, I own both a Pinzgauer and Haflinger.

    • 0 avatar

      +1
      Add pretty much all military vehicles since the late fifties (Ford M-51, Humvee) into the equation, and the solid axle thing really becomes a joke.

    • 0 avatar
      TTCat

      -1

      I would hazard a guess that you have never done any major modifications to your “Pinzgauer and Haflinger” combo, which is all well and good if they suit your off road needs, but what most people seem to consider “off road” is usually little more than Forest Service dirt roads with an occasional stream crossing. When you get into real rock crawling situations as I frequently do here in Colorado you see the shortcomings of IFS all the time, particularly when stepping over large rocks taken down one side of the vehicle and a “void” is in the opposite wheel’s track - the wheel taking the rock moves up just fine, but due to the limited articulation the IFS affords, the drooping wheel can’t reach the ground and will not be pivoted down like a solid axle would (the whole FJ pivots nicely though and tends to end up on its side). My TJ Wrangler scoots through conditions all the time that leave the FJ Cruisers and the like backing down and seeking a different line. Also, as an aside, if you are somebody who likes (or needs)  to modify your off-road rig, in my experience, it is much cheaper and easier to lift a solid axle vehicle and do it “right” than with an IFS platform, and I would say that 80% of the breakdowns I have seen off-road are due to the CV joints having failed on an IFS. Of course there are always off-road situations that are beyond the capability of any suspension setup, but strictly from my perspective, after 35 years of running the backcountry here in Colorado (and not being worried at all about on-road drivability), I will take my solid axle Jeep over anything else. YMMV

  • avatar
    rudiger

    While it’s true that ’Trail Rated’ is a marketing gimmick, it was an effective one and, up until they slapped it on the Compass, wasn’t incorrect. It has little to do with solid front axles, though. ‘Trail Rated’ used to mean stouter BOF construction which, evidently, is a much better way to go when off-road, rather than the more flexible (and better riding) unibody construction.

    That’s where Chrysler slipped up. Giving the unibody Compass the little ’Trail Rated’ fender badges sharply diminishes what the term supposedly stands for and it will become patently apparent when the yahoos begin trashing their new Compasses the first time they go turfing.

    • 0 avatar
      michaeljeep

      Most of the new Jeeps, with the exception of the wrangler, are unibody. The “Trail Rated” label is just a stamp given to the trim levels that pass certain offroad metrics tested by a 3rd party company. If the compass can meet or exceed those metrics, then it deserves the label.
       
      That being said, I’m sure if you took an informal survey of whether the Compass/Patriot are “Real Jeeps” most people would surely say no. Of course, I’ve heard the same said about my favorite Jeep (the Cherokee).

    • 0 avatar

      According to the Jeep website, the Trail Rated means it achieves certain standards in ground clearance, traction, maneuverability, articulation, and water fording. With the optional low-range, Chrysler feels it’s worthy of those standards (for what it’s worth, most of the reviews of the Patriot with low range, which was available from the start, were reasonably complementary of its off-road capabilities). The FWD and standard 4WD Compatriots still don’t get it (for that mater, some Grand Cherokees don’t either).
      Besides, since ’93, the Wrangler’s been Jeep’s only BOF vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      The Grand Cherokee is and always has been unibody.

    • 0 avatar

      You got that arse about the BOF 4wD twist and bend to follow extreme terrain Unibodies are much stiffer and dont bend and require more suspension travel. Why do you think BOF was dumped it produces the weakest body structure its crap in an accident the vehicle handles appalingly and it rattles.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    I like the TV ads with people beating the crap out of a brand new $40,000 vehicle.  How many people do you know that actually take their 4×4 “off road”- especially where a solid f axle is really necessary?  The worse thing most Jeeps encounter is a speed bump in the local Wal-Mart parking lot.   My 79 Chevy Cheyenne had a solid front axle and my tractor had a smoother ride.  Now THAT was trail rated.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    a number of commenters pointed out that the term “Trail Rated” is little more than a Jeep marketing phrase,
     
    They are ignorant.
     
    The Jeep Wrangler/Grand Cherokee are the best domestic off roaders in America today.  Even the mediocre new Explorer with it’s fancy traction control knob (that does nothing) can’t come close to the Jeeps.
     
    Trail Rated is FAR more than a marketing term.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      The thing with the “Trail Rated” designation is that it distinguishes between “real” Jeeps which are “Trail Rated” and lesser (soft-roader) vehicles that are still sold as Jeeps.  Does the “Trail Rated” badge ultimately hurt Jeep’s image by reminding people that not all Jeeps are created equal?  ie:They’re not all the great off-roaders that Jeep is known for?

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Forgive me for being a bit confused here, but does the trail rating package on the Compass come with the solid front axle or not?  The picture shows a Wrangler, as state above, and none of the text in the image says anything about the Freedom Drive II coming with the solid axle.  In fact, on the specs page for the Compass, it lists it as having independent front and rear suspensions.
     
    Solid axles and independent suspensions both have their strengths and weaknesses, so let’s not get into which is better, but it appears that the issue here is that Jeep is indicating that the Compass can come with a solid front axle, when really, it can’t.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    really, who gives a shit? How many morons are going to take a new Jeep off roading anyway?

    • 0 avatar
      TTCat

      Well, that’s really missing the point – its later on down the line when a used buyer is looking for a clean non-munged up rig with a lower cost of entry and all the the depreciation has pretty much been run through, that what equipement can be had at a now reasonable price comes into play. That’s why Jeeper’s who stop and take a moment think about it are really happy all those “mall crawlers” are out there – that’s where the next generation of trail rigs come from…

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Solid axle or not, I’ve liked the Jeep Compass since it’s introduction. It seemed like the modern version of the Jeepster, the metal roofed one. I’d be interested in one, but solely for on road work. It’s great that it’s ‘Trail Rated’, but honestly, I hope to never have to use that kind of capability. I have to say I liked the original styling better. I’m not totally sold on the mini GC styling. Maybe it will grow on me.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      I feel the opposite towards the Compass.  I thought it was a poor fit with Jeep and the original styling was ugly.  I see little point to Jeep having both the Compass and the Patriot, both built on the same platform as the Dodge Caliber.  Now that Compass and Patriot look even more similar, and are both available with the same FWD or “Trail Rated” 4WD powertrains, there seems to be little to differentiate them except price.  IMO, the newly restyled version should have become the Patriot and they should have dropped the Compass altogether.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @BOC: As much as I like the Compass, I agree with you that there’s a great deal of product overlap with the Patriot and the Compass in the same lineup. If I were in charge of that, one of them would have to go.


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