Monday, December 24, 2012

Jeep Shifts into Rebrand mode

An article in today's USA TODAY, explores some of the upcoming name changes and new vehicles in development at Chryster Corp's Jeep brand.
Among them: a single vehicle with replace the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot sometime in 2014/2015; the company is resurrecting its Grand Wagoneer name plate; and there is speculation that beloved Cherokee name will replace the Liberty.  To read more, click here.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review: 2011 Jeep Compass Latitude w/ Attitude

Is it a SUV or a car?
That's what I asked myself when I hopped into my silver 2011 Jeep Compass (its clone is pictured to the left.)
Although the vehicle wears the Jeep badge and has four-wheel drive, it drives as comfy as a passenger car. My sister, who test drove it to haul groceries once and some furniture, said it drove like a truck. So let's call the Compass the Jeep-car.  It's what you need it to be.

The Compass isn't rugged like the Wrangler nor as powerful as its older brother, the Grand Cherokee or Liberty cousin but this sporty wagon with the heartbeat of a Jeep has its own distinct auto personality. To other drivers, it may shout "I'm a suburban youngish professional/parent running errands to Costco, afterschool pickups and soccer practice" yet the Compass also looks right at home ferrying you to the hills to hike or ski.

The looks 
Like a metal rhino, the body is squared off at odd angles and curves that soften toward the rear. It's refreshed front grill, adapted from the Grand Cherokee, looks at you as if grinning and preening, "Yeah, I know I'm different than the Patriot. You like my makeover?" The grill is a step up, a marked departure from the big round Thomas-the-Tank-Engine headlights that seemed to radiate "I'm really really really cute...really!" from the 2007-2010 models. Although it looks beefier and more solid than the Toyota Matrix, the Compass isn't that much wider or longer. The Compass just looks like it would win a wrestling match against the Matrix, err Corolla wagon. Among shoppers, the Compass has been more popular with women because of the vehicle's softer wagon look while men are the predominant buyers of the Compass's fraternal twin, the Jeep Patriot. (I wonder what this says about me as a car buyer?)

The drive

A few months ago, I nervously drove my Compass from Boston to Miami alone. I depended on this safe solid car to drive 1,600 miles for a new life. The ride was smooth while slightly nosy. Although the 2.4 litre, 172-horsepower engine whines when you give it gas to climb uphill or pass another car, that's just the continously variable (CVT) transmission pulling and pushing the car along. Most cars with CVT engines carry a similar sound. You get used to it after a while.