By on September 28, 2016

2017 Jeep Compass Limited

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.

2016 Jeep Compass & Patriot

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.

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64 Comments on “Americans Prefer Patriot, So Why Is Jeep Killing It and Keeping Compass Name Instead?...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    European shoulder bags for all!

  • avatar
    FOG

    It makes sense to me. Compass sounds global while Patriot sounds like a dominant New England NFL team. Other countries may be concerned that the tire pressure will always be too low.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’ve got nothing, but I will say that Jeeps are always Jeeper at Jolly John.

    Anyone living in Maine will know his cheesy ads. Too bad he’s not around to advertise these fine FCA vehicles.

    youtube.com/watch?v=pzS86Ud4Elw

  • avatar

    The first gen Compass was absolutely hideous when it came out. It’s no wonder the Patriot outsold it. The mid-cycle refresh really helped it a lot in the looks department, but this new one is a real looker. If they finally get the damn 9-speed issues resolved, this will undoubtedly become Jeep’s best seller.

    • 0 avatar
      cls12vg30

      It’s hearsay at this point, but the latest whisperings I’ve heard from new 9-speed Renegade owners suggest that FCA and ZF may have collaborated to finally tame the 9-speed beast. Time will tell.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        Tell my brother-in-law and sister that. As of tomorrow, their two year old Cherokee gets traded in on a Kia Sorento. Assuming they can get it out of the dealer’s shop by tomorrow to do the trade. That damned ZF puked on them again last night.

        That last time Don had a car this bad was 45 years ago.

        It was an Austin Marina.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      The Patriot with the diesel (Volkswagen) engine was a truly horrendous car.

      It’s little wonder FCA has decided to bury it.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Personally not a fan of the new look, even if it has become somewhat traditional. I prefer the Renegade over the Compass for appearances, though the Compass is said to be marginally larger than the Renegade so possibly a little more family friendly for some.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        And I guess that’s why they have both of them. Personally I think the Renegade looks like a cartoon Wrangler, I don’t like it at all. I like the cleaner look of the Compass.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I know we’re dealing with global companies but I didn’t realize that the hubris was so great that they would sell the Compass/Patriot twins overseas.

    CUV mania knows no boundaries!

  • avatar
    Chris

    I think it fits better in the naming scheme of Jeep’s models. The got rid of the ‘MURICA names like the Liberty, Commander and Patriot and they brought back the wildlife names Renegade, Compass and Cherokee (“people who live in the mountains” per Wikipedia).

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Cherokee was brought back because of its heritage. It was named back when Jeep was going through a name cars after Native American tribes phase (see also: Comanche)

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Yes. This. Liberty and Patriot are way too American sounding (WHITE American sounding.) Almost racist at this point when flying the American flag is considered racist. So from a marketing point of view eliminating the “offensive” names makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      If you bother to think about those naming schemes a bit, Compass, Renegade and Wrangler draw on the exploration and freedom side of American history. They bring to mind living out under the open sky with the ability to go anywhere you want, any time you want. They bring to mind the idea that different is good, conformity is bad. It seems Libertarians in particular would want to consider a Jeep over any Ford or GM product.

  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    That’s not to say they wouldn’t give the new a model a different name in NA than the rest of the world. ‘Cause that’s never been done before.

  • avatar
    subefan

    never buy a car with the word a-s-s or similar in its name

    Aspire, Aspen, Aztek (AssTech), Asstro, Passport, Paseo, Passat, etc.

    The forthcoming Subaru 3-row is rumored to be maybe called Ascent. Double no-no the a word plus the name of a piece of currency.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Cute utes are the way to go, apparently.

    Sorry, skinny jeans and Euro carry-all (man-purses) just ain’t gonna cut it for me.

    I have always hated the “patriot” name as I said the other day, which, if I were in the market, I would have bought the Compass instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Clearly the Renegade is carrying on the Patriot’s ‘butch’ look. The new Compass comes across more as a downsized Grand Cherokee by appearance and will probably offer better fuel economy than its two predecessors through improved aerodynamics and improved powertrain. I would expect a “Trailhawk” version as well, for those who simply don’t like the looks of the Renegade Trailhawk.

  • avatar
    gomez

    The name “Compass” also makes sense because the new model *looks* more like an evolution of the old Compass than an evolution of the Patriot.

    I also hope the next Grand Cherokee takes the “Wagoneer” name. The whole “Grand” moniker needs to go away…it is not an upscale or larger version of the Cherokee.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “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.”

    Then its not a Jeep, end of story.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      What makes it “not a Jeep”? It’s got a Jeep badge and is made by Jeep.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The heart of the matter is branding matching product/expectation. A certain brand matches a certain level of product or expectation in the human mind, which makes the brand itself very valuable since the product/expectation side of the equation can be changed out with users still recognizing the brand. Think of all of the US branding on completely foreign product, esp legacy branding such as RCA, GE (to an extent), Frigidaire, Maytag, and Motorola.

        http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/05/made-in-america/index.htm

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Fair point, but isn’t it also the consumer’s responsibility to know what they’re buying? Cursory research is all it takes to figure out the difference between a JD tractor built in Waterloo, IA and a JD-badged lawn mower built in Guangzhou.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That’s what killed Pontiac and Oldsmobile.

  • avatar
    86er

    I guess same reason why they’re doing away with the Grand Caravan.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The name of the model rarely means all that much to me. Rather, it is the size and the capabilities that mean everything and to which if I don’t like the name, I would simply have the badge removed and replace it with a name I like. Or not. In the US, reputations tend to get attached to names, rather than to the vehicles themselves. This is especially obvious when someone says, “Pinto”, for instance.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    ‘Murrica chest beating aside, it’s a matter of economic time before the Estados Unidos is no longer the hottest market for cars.

    Lexus and GM already design luxury cars with primary focus on Asian sales. The reasons are beyond the scope of this comment, but the bottom line is that the American middle class is about to become a museum exhibit. What sensible firm should design and name cars for people who can’t afford them?

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      The US is less than 5% of the world’s population, of course it’s not going to stay the largest car market forever.

      What sensible firm should design and name cars with a primary focus on less than one-twentieth of the planet?

      • 0 avatar
        Whatnext

        Hello Lincoln.

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        @bikegoesbaa – Your comment spurred my interest in world automotive sales stats, of which I knew nothing beyond generalities. I’m sure most or all of this has been covered in articles here at TTAC, and this may be common knowledge to you, so bear with me if it is. All of these figures represent total vehicle sales and fail to take into account revenue and profitability by region.

        China surpassed our annual vehicle sales in 2009 (13.6M to our 10.6M), but the 3rd largest market in the world, Japan, remains distant, at less than a third of US sales for 2015 with sagging sales (5.0M vs 17.5M) and just over a third of US sales cumulatively over the last decade (57.1M vs 164.5M).

        Meanwhile, four of the top 10 annual sales markets over the last decade have experienced significant sales losses in the last 5 years (Brazil, France, Italy, and Russia). Japan, Germany, France, Russia, and Italy have all contracted over the decade. Looking at cumulative sales 2005-2015, it takes Japan, Germany, Brazil, and India to nearly match US sales over the same time period. 79% of the world sales growth from 2005-15 (65.9M to 89.7M) is from China, while India only accounts for 8% of this delta. Of some concern is that the US remains stagnant over the same time period.

        The USA’s less-than-one-twentieth (4.4%) of the world population accounted for nearly one-fifth of worldwide car sales over the last decade and last year (19.6%, 19.5%, respectively). As far as car sales per capita, on a basic level, the US remains the highest sales market proportional to its population, with Canada 2nd (China is 9th, India 12th).

        So with all of this said, I guess I’m not seeing why catering to the US market is such an outmoded concept. Our spot at #2 looks to remain unchallenged for quite some time. I understand the push toward global offerings, but I’m sure more than one sensible firm will continue to design and name cars with a primary focus on one-fifth of the world’s car sales.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          Beautifully and concisely said.

          Even with the anomalous and temporary exception of China, concentrations of global population are more reliably a way to determine which regions will never develop the stable middle class necessary to provide a market for mass, profitable auto sales, especially given the march of automation.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Omitted (by me) point:

            We are emerging from a 70-year bubble of freedom from major wars that will probably first be pricked at the India-Pakistan border if not in the South China Sea.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Major wars involving nuclear powers are, well, oopsie.

            Well unless they are planned in advance.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Obviously they didn’t want to conjure up inflation problems with the Patriot name. :)

    Besides, they probably really didn’t want ties to that football team in general, After all, neither one has a sponsorship deal with the other. And the term doesn’t necessarily translate internationally that well. Compass on the other hand, fits the Jeep brand well. Too bad Pathfinder is already taken though.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    Patriotic Americans wouldn’t want to buy a Patriot made in Mexico, as that wouldn’t be patriotic. Better to keep the Compass name instead, then.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    China has passed the USA as being the largest car market. India is also becoming a much larger market. The growth in the vehicle market is in Asia. Cars are already being designed elsewhere and many of today’s vehicles use global platforms.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      As I noted in another comment above, China accounts for 79% of the world total sales growth since 2005. India only accounts for 8.4% of that growth, increasing almost 2M sales/yr from 2005-15. Unlike China, however, India has actually fallen off from their 2012 high of 3.6M sales, to a 2015 total of 3.4M. They don’t appear to be poised to threaten Japan at #3 just yet, although Japan is falling as well, hovering around 5M/yr.

      I would also assume that most (?) of the offerings in India are low-budget appliance vehicles, like the newly (re)launched Datsun brand. Those don’t seem like high margin vehicles as compared to luxury offerings intended for China.

      The fact that the 3rd-6th largest markets (including India) don’t add up to US sales seems to put things in perspective. The US is still a fifth of total world sales.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Huh. I figured I’d go out and get a Jeep Patriot, now that the model is being dropped, and join the Jeep Patriot Fan Club. I actually looked for a Patriot fan club or owners’ club, and ran into this 2014 headline from Motley Fool:

    Why the 2014 Jeep Patriot Is the Best SUV on the Market

    Now I know which year to look for!

  • avatar
    Chan

    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.

  • avatar
    Verbal

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

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