By on February 24, 2017

2017 Jeep Compass

We knew that Jeep’s redesigned small crossover was going to be sized up, priced up, and niced up in order to avoid cannibalizing the Renegade. What we didn’t know was that Jeep would dump it into the KL Cherokee’s lap like a scalding cup of coffee. At $22,090, the base 2017 Compass is only a stone’s throw away from the larger model’s pre-destination price of $23,695 MSRP.

Worse still is that Fiat Chrysler’s inability to update or enhance the Jeep Cherokee in any meaningful way has helped sales implode in recent months. The KL was Jeep’s top selling model in 2015, with 220,260 units sold in the United States, but it took a sales hit of almost 30,000 vehicles the following year and saw a noticeably weaker beginning for 2017.

While the new Compass could bring some of those numbers back to the brand, the tiny price gap is bound to siphon off sales from its bigger brother. Jeep is rationalizing the Compass’ higher price by explaining that the revamped crossover is significantly more refined and capable off-road than the previous model — something the Cherokee was occasionally condemned for. If that ends up being the case, the only reason for buyers to choose the Cherokee will be its slightly better cargo volume (or growing incentives).

FCA dropped $5,600 in incentive spending per unit by December. However, this could be the best time for Jeep to stockpile Cherokees — vehicle production will be leaving Toledo, Ohio for Illinois this April to make room at Jeep’s home base for production of the next-generation Wrangler.

A bright spot for the Cherokee is that its smaller sibling only comes with a 2.4-liter Tigershark inline-four making 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. That’ll be a deal breaker for a lot of shoppers; many will insist upon the larger vehicle equipped with the 3.2 liter Pentastar V6 — as long as Jeep can keep the price competitive with the in-brand competition. The new Compass comes in Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, and Limited trims. While the Sport and Latitude are available in front-wheel or four-wheel drive configurations, the Limited ($30,090) and Trailhawk ($29,690) are 4×4 only.

After incentives, the Cherokee Trailhawk costs exactly the same.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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36 Comments on “Jeep’s New Compass and Old Cherokee are About to Step All Over Each Other...”

  • avatar

    And when does the Patriot cease production? The less than $20,000 Patriot is the one I see all over the freaking place around here.

    I guess I’ll start to finally see more Renegades around.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    For me, the real problem is the wretched 9-speed ZF automatic.

    The new Compass FWD comes with a 6-speed auto (or stick), which would interest me much more in terms of trim, price, and driveability.

    • 0 avatar

      I personally find the 9-speed ZF automatic surprisingly effective. Once you give it a chance to learn your driving habits, it upshifts and downshifts quickly without you usually even feeling the shift.

      Even more interesting, when running cruise control, I’ve seen the transmission automatically downshift when descending a long grade and even applying brake to keep your speed near the set point; something I’ve not seen any other automatic do in any previous car I’ve owned.

      • 0 avatar

        My parents 2012 Taurus will gear down to maintain speed going down hill. Its nothing new. It crossed the Cascades at 70 mph going up and 70 mph coming down (dry warm day, lol not in the snow).

        I don’t know if the transmission can apply the brakes. Never heard of that, but if they are being applied, I don’t think the trans is doing it. Applying the brakes would discontinue speed control automatically if its like any other car I know of.

        I am surprised that you’re the one guy who has had good experience with the ZF 9AT. Who would’ve thought that?

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve got to wonder what % of Internet People who kvetch about the 9HP have ever actually driven a vehicle with one. if it’s more than 15% I’ll be surprised. ‘cos I had a 200S for a weekend (not a rental) with the 9 speed and for the life of me I can’t understand what everyone’s complaining about.

  • avatar

    Inability to update/enhance the Cherokee? The damn thing is 2 years old, what were you expecting? The refreshed model is coming in 2018 and will tone down the styling a bit. No word on whether the refreshed I4 lineup will be available at that time though.

  • avatar

    Well, why not have 12,331 Jeep models? Not much else is selling for FCA.

    • 0 avatar

      12331 jeep models and size 12331 fonts on RAM trucjks, 12331 is working for FCA. In Europe they’ve priced the Giullia like a 3-series or C-class, I’d suspect that they’ll sell 12331 a year.

  • avatar

    I bought a 2015 Cherokee Limited for my wife in August 2015. Not a huge fan but she’s happy, so I am.

  • avatar
    King of Eldorado

    If they “tone down the styling a bit” on the current Cherokee by losing the weird front lighting arrangement, that will likely exacerbate the overlap problem with the new Compass. If the Cherokee keeps its current look, the two will be readily distinguishable: the Cherokee is the one with the ugly front lights.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Reminds me of the question they ask at the deli counter when ordering your roast beef or whatever: “how thin do you want it sliced?”

    FCA is hoisting a big loaf of Jeep CUV Market Demand up onto the rotating blade and shaving it into sheets you can see daylight through. We’ll see if they’re right. The Patriot is this size and sells well, though that may be more to the low price than the dimensions.

  • avatar

    Jeep claims that the Compass was sized specifically for international markets, where the Cherokee is seen as just a bit too large. So, there might be some cannibalization in the U.S., but the Compass is intended to be the volume model globally. Indeed, Compass will be produced in four countries (Mexico, Brazil, China, and India) to the Cherokee’s two (U.S. and China).

  • avatar

    full-tilt optioning puts the Latitude Manual 4×4 right under $30,000– not bad!

    Comes with a smaller uConnect screen than everything else, though.

  • avatar

    It looks like all the major OEMs are using the sausage approach and going to sell lines of CUVs in increments of 4 to 6 inches overall length.

  • avatar

    If customers end up in Jeep showrooms figuring out if they want a Compass or a Cherokee, Jeep still wins.

    Bitching about FCA seems to be a popular sport on TTAC, but the complaining has a knee jerk quality to it.

    There are lots of companies out there, and all of them have their problems. Spread the not-love around :).

    • 0 avatar

      Your post reeks of butthurt Chrysler fan.

      FCA does not win when they internally cannibalize themselves and throw heavy incentives on older models that kill the sales of the newer one and make them lose money both ways. We seem to realize it, why doesn’t Sergio?

  • avatar

    On the Jeep website, if you get the page with the side profiles, the Cherokee has a huge front overhang compared to the other models and the new Compass. If I was looking for an SUV/CUV whatever, that front overhang looks like it would be an issue – if it was actually going to be taken off-road.

  • avatar

    It’s not like every other manufacturer out there doesn’t have razor thin divisions between their SUV models. Well, with the exception of Cadillac.

    I’m a fan of the current Cherokee and wouldn’t mind having one in my driveway. The new Compass is really intriguing, however and may get my dollars. Once they get out in the wild and a year or two into production, the incentives will come into play and maybe I can score a nice TrailHawk.

    Really, this is not anything new, with a few exceptions everyone has lots of CUVs in their lines and they all seem to have some degree of overlap.

  • avatar

    Ok. I just went on the Jeep website. They are showing the new Compass Sport starting at MSRP of $20,995 and the Cherokee Sport starting at MSRP of $23,595.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s the rebate amounts that will put them nearly even.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah base price in the article is wrong. it’s a 3k gap same as between the renegade. Funny over at allpar the concern is more about stealing renegade sales. The cherokee will be moving up the food chain in the next redesign to fill the 23k-30k gap between the cherokee and Grand cherokee. IN which this makes more sense but even still they are using jeep as their only CUV brand essentially so it has to fill every gap.

  • avatar

    With the larger vehicle costing about the same after incentives, I’d be worried about the Compass, not the Cherokee. Remember when Chrysler had a hard time selling Darts because people could buy the bigger Avenger for about the same cost?

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    If only they had a small CUV. Perhaps not CX-3 small, but at least HR-V small. Renegade is gigantic, it’s bigger than Wrangler (with 2 doors).

    • 0 avatar

      I just checked the dimensions and Mazda CX-3 is actually longer than Renegade:

      Mazda CX-3: 168″ L x 70″ W x 61″ H

      Jeep Renegade: 167″ L x 71″ W x 66.5″ H

      It looks like Renegade is good 5 inches taller than CX-3, maybe that is why he appears so much bigger.

  • avatar

    I thought I had heard somewhere once that the next model Cherokee was going to be enlarged a little bit more, into true mid-size CUV territory, but I can’t remember where I heard that.

  • avatar

    I have a 2014 familyjeepsterpatriotwagonsport2wd with the Korean 6-speed and optional 2.4L. I love that rental-grade lump of not-a-real-jeep. Its the best car to own if you have an autistic kindergartner who destroys car interiors. Sometimes a no-frills station wagon on stilts is just what you need.

    In other news; a gutless 2wd station wagon can make it to the top of Francis Peak in Utah if you have nerves of steel,balls of brass, and brains of play-do.

    I get that the new compass will be a whole new vehicle, but I think most buyers won’t realize that. I foresee a lot of buyers cussing out the salesman when he says “Would you like to test drive the brand new Compass?” They should have parked that name for a while before bringing it back.

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