By on March 5, 2019

FCA

Fiat Chrysler’s reputation as an automaker that scoffs at fuel economy mandates is slowly being chipped away. Never mind the much-loathed Fiat 500e; it was the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid that really got the ball rolling, with eTorque-engined Ram 1500s upping the company’s green cred for 2019.

At this week’s Geneva Motor Show, the high-flying Jeep brand revealed the next salvo in its bid to lower corporate emissions while wooing eco-conscious (or heavily taxed) overseas buyers: Two crossovers, each bearing a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2018

2017 Jeep Compass front quarter

I’m certainly an outcast among automotive journalists. So many in this line of work absolutely fetishize the Jeep brand. Mottos like “It’s A Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand” and “If You Can Read This, Roll Me Over” flow through reviews and tweets like a lifted CJ on thirty fives. I’ve never really seen the appeal. I’m a suburbanite to the bone and, as such, I’ve never had the need or desire to take a vehicle off-road.

My first experiences with Jeeps came as a service writer, where I’d drive a vehicle to try and better relay handling problems to the tech. Every Jeep I drove was a loose-steering, ill-handling pig. Of course, in that job I was always driving vehicles that needed work, but the pride of Toledo always seemed particularly nasty on the tarmac.

Jeep was listening, it seems, as it has begun offering a variety of car-based crossovers that are pavement rated. Take this 2017 Jeep Compass Limited — the big 19 inch alloys with low-profile tires make the intended path quite clear. Has the essence of Jeepness become eroded, or can this Compass point the way forward?

(Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass - Image: JeepIf the rate of growth FCA’s Jeep brand experienced in the United States in 2016 could be carried forward into 2017, Jeep would sell 1,000,000 SUVs/crossovers this year.

Count the zeros. 1 million.

For a company that sold fewer than 300,000 vehicles per year coming out of the recession, that’s an absurd figure.

Jeep earned 5.4 percent of the overall auto market in the first half of 2016, yet through the first half of 2017, Jeep’s market share has taken a dive to 4.8 percent. In a market gone mad for utility vehicles — where sales of SUVs/crossovers are up 6 percent, year-over-year, despite the market’s downturn — no-car Jeep is losing sales faster than every auto brand aside from Chrysler and Smart.

Worrying? According to Jeep boss Mike Manley, Jeep is, “exactly where I thought we would be in the U.S.” (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk - Image: © Timothy CainThis is the new, second-generation 2017 Jeep Compass, tested here in $35,200 Trailhawk guise, including $5,510 in options.

It’s two inches shorter than the old Compass but two inches wider. The new Compass offers 20-percent more cargo capacity than the old Compass and, according to the specs, marginally less space for passengers. The Trailhawk’s 8.5-inches of ground clearance is up by four-tenths of an inch.

Forget the specs, though. And for a moment, forget the price. This new Jeep Compass is better than the old Jeep Compass.

It would be difficult not to be.

But comparisons with the an old Jeep Compass that went on sale in 2006, while making for easy reading and easy writing, won’t take us very far. Rather, our goal is to determine whether the new 2017 Jeep Compass is a worthy compact utility vehicle today.

Because improving upon a vehicle that, in 2006, TTAC called “ an ugly, gangly, underpowered, mud-aversive half-breed,” a vehicle that “stomps all over Jeep’s reputation as America’s purveyor of authentic off-road vehicles,” wouldn’t be surprising, sufficient, or significant. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Malibu - Image: GMThe U.S. auto industry is shrinking. But only by a little bit.

Auto sales through the first five months of 2017 are down just 2 percent, a drop of roughly 140,000 sales across the entire industry. Aside from high inventories and rising incentives, it’s not all doom and gloom. 2016 was the highest-volume year in the history of the American auto industry — a 2-percent drop is hardly catastrophic.

This is therefore not 2009, when virtually every new vehicle suffered decreased volume. Many new vehicles are surging, selling significantly more often this year than last.

But in a declining market, many other nameplates are in fact losing sales. Many sales. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 volume nameplates losing U.S. sales most rapidly. (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2017

Jeep Compass ad

The only thing missing is Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way bleating from the speakers, but songs from 1977 often don’t play well with those born after 1980. (Or 1982, depending on your source.) Slow, maudlin hipster “rock,” if you can call it that, is how you reel in those youngsters these days.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, knowing exactly what it wants the second-generation Jeep Compass to mean to the most sought-after segment of car buyers, is placing its sales pitch to scruffy Millennials in a new ad campaign.

As Millennial automotive marketing is usually a cringe-inducing affair, each new product launch and ad campaign targeting this generation sparks morbid interest in cynical observers. Hence, this post. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

2016 Jeep® Compass 75th Anniversary edition

Thanks to the weird and inexact science of pinning down a model year for a new introduction, Jeep finds itself playing a game of “hide the Compass.” The old Compass, that is.

You know the one. Barely updated over its decade-long lifespan, hated by TTAC but loved by consumers? That Compass. Certainly not the larger, second-generation model, with its new platform, upgraded looks and carryover engine. That global model is the one Jeep wants everyone to know about and, of course, buy.

Unfortunately, the model year conventions found in some overseas countries means the global model launching this spring carries a 2017 designation. As does the final cohort of the old Compass. (Read More…)

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. (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2016

2017 Jeep Compass

Our esteemed Managing Editor doesn’t exactly hand out Lifetime Achievement Awards like Tic-Tacs, so when he does, we know he’s serious. The previous generation Compass was widely (and rightfully) derided for its faux-off-road pretensions and Playskool interior. It wasn’t just TTAC who knocked the thing in recent years; buff books piled on, too.

For FCA, the Jeep brand is essentially a license to print money. All of its models are doing well, even the Compass which, in the U.S., is on its way to having its best sales year since it was introduced a decade ago. Yes, you read that correctly. Armed with that knowledge, and the current hot-as-fire compact crossover segment, one can scarcely imagine the sales gains they will make with this, the handsome new Compass.

(Read More…)

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? (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2016

Jeep® Compass Trailhawk

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has released the first official images of the 2017 Jeep Compass, the solitary model replacing both the original Compass and its slab-sided Patriot compatriot.

Say goodbye to the flag-waving Patriot name, as this is a world model, and global Jeep customers are more familiar with the Compass name. Fittingly, the small SUV’s coming out party was held at its Goiana, Brazil assembly plant. (Read More…)

By on September 22, 2016

0x0_1_autohomecar__wKjBw1fjSQeAQ4WQAAHBE1mpYvo462

The unveiling of the Jeep Cherokee and Renegade prompted many unplanned chiropractor visits after their, erm, interesting proportions elicited neck-snapping double takes.

As the final months of Compass and Patriot production sell like discount cigarettes on a WW2 airbase, Jeep likely felt pressure to keep styling on the safe side when it came time to craft a replacement.

Well, after seeing leaked images of the model, we can report back with a quote from Dustin Hoffman in Marathon Man: “Yes, it’s safe, it’s very safe, it’s so safe you wouldn’t believe it.” (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2016

2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude, Exterior, front 3/4, Photography by Alex L. Dykes

This time, it’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ turn to recall a million-plus vehicles for airbags that might not deploy during a crash.

Yesterday, the automaker announced the recall of 1.9 million vehicles worldwide to fix a defect linked to three deaths and five injuries. (Read More…)

By on August 26, 2016

Jeep Compass Combo Car, Black River Stages, Image: © 2016 Justin Hughes

Editor’s Note: Yes, yes, I know there weren’t many reader submissions posted this week — but fear not! We are working our way through the wave of emails. Thank you all for sharing. Next up: Justin Hughes of RightFootDown.com wringing every last horsepower possible out of a rental Compass. Enjoy! —Mark

What do you do with a car that wants so badly to be an off-road vehicle, but can’t actually go off-road?

Take it to a rally.

(Read More…)

By on June 27, 2016

Compass Patriot Replacement Poster, Image: © 2016 The Truth About Cars

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ fourth-quarter reveal of Jeep’s replacement for the Compass and Patriot comes after mountains of late-in-life success for the small SUV duo.

In Jeep’s U.S. home market, sales of the Compass — known as one of The Worst Cars Today since way back in 2006 — soared to an all-time record high of 66,698 units in calendar year 2015. Through the first five months of 2016, Compass sales are up 72 percent, a gain of 16,411 sales for Jeep’s lowest-volume model.

The Patriot, meanwhile, topped the list of TTAC’s The Worst Cars Today in 2016, sales of the Patriot also having shot up to record levels of 118,464 units in 2015. Year-over-year, U.S. Patriot sales through the first five months of 2016 grew 4 percent to 52,067 units. Combined, the Dodge Caliber-based tandem essentially produce one-quarter of Jeep’s sales in the brand’s home market, outselling every other individual Jeep nameplate.

Against this backdrop of outrageous success for two critically panned trucklets with seven-slot grilles, a single Jeep candidate will step in to fill their shoes at a Brazilian debut later this year. Jeep already has a subcompact SUV: the Renegade. Jeep already has a small and affordable off-roader: the non-Unlimited Wrangler. Jeep already has an entry to challenge America’s leading crossovers: the Cherokee.

Can Jeep find space in tight quarters for yet another small SUV? If not, we’re about to see the first Jeep flop since the Commander arrived in 2005. (Read More…)

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