Americans Prefer Patriot, So Why Is Jeep Killing It and Keeping Compass Name Instead?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Searching for new buyers with car-based Jeeps in 2006, DaimlerChrysler assumed the more obviously car-like of the two new Jeeps, the Compass, would be more popular. Square, boxy, and later to the party, the Patriot would fill in the gaps with a more male-centric demographic.

Incorrect.

From the get-go, the Jeep Patriot was the more popular of the two Dodge Caliber-related baby Jeeps. In the U.S., Jeep reported 53-percent more Patriot sales than Compass sales between 2007 and August 2016. In fact, the Patriot has outsold the Compass every year since its debut.

Naturally then, when it came time to wisely replace the antiquated and critically condemned first-generation Patriot and Compass with an all-new model, Jeep chose the Compass nameplate.

Wait a second, what?

We twice asked for comment from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Jeep’s parent company, regarding the name choice.

“At this point we’re not able to comment or provide further info prior to the LA auto show,” Jordan Wasylyk, the product PR manager for the Patriot and Compass in Canada, told TTAC.

Even with FCA’s silence on the issue, it’s not difficult to see the factors at play. True, the more traditionally boxy Jeep, the Patriot, was wildly more popular than the awkward Compass in both the U.S. and Canada. But Jeep is not an exclusively North American brand.

The 2017 Jeep Compass, as we reported yesterday, will initially be built in Brazil and sold in over 100 markets with 17 powertrain options.

Meanwhile, the old Compass is wildly more popular than the dying Patriot in — guess where? — global markets. Nearly three times more popular over the last three years.

The Jeep of 2017 is not intended to be an accurate facsimile of the brand with which you grew up. Owned by a Dutch-incorporated, London-headquartered automaker, Jeep’s latest model (the Renegade) is imported from an Italian assembly plant. But Jeep has consistently generated only one-quarter of the brand’s volume in global markets, the very markets which account for four-fifths of global new vehicle sales.

If Jeep’s global aspirations are ever to be cemented in reality, Jeep knows it must become more than the SUV answer to apple pie and rushing the quarterback.

Clearly Jeep believes that Compass, not Patriot, will play better where footballs are kicked into nets rather than through uprights.

[Images: Jeep]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

Timothy Cain
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  • Chan Chan on Sep 29, 2016

    I find it slightly ridiculous and in poor taste to name a car "Patriot". That it wasn't a very competitive car is just icing on the cake. Similarly, "Liberty" is such a played-out term that screams 'Murica and everything crass that it stands for, as if the idea of civil liberty is somehow unique to this country. In the era of global Jeep, I'm not surprised that these names didn't make the cut. Note how the "Freestar" name also didn't last very long for Ford.

  • Verbal Verbal on Sep 29, 2016

    I think they should split and re-combine the existing names of the two vehicles, and call it the Jeep Ass Riot.

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.
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