Jeep releases US pricing, fuel-economy figures for all-new Compass; first deliveries due in March

Jeep's all-new Compass crossover utility vehicle will see first deliveries in March, with a full marketing launch due in May. The new Compass is a competitive entry set to add value to the Jeep brand.

IHS Markit Perspective:

  • Significance:Jeep is launching a new C-segment crossover utility vehicle (CUV) in the United States in May. The new Compass is larger and takes on a more global market orientation than the previous-generation Compass and Patriot products it replaces. The new product will be built in Brazil, Mexico, China, and India, making it the second Jeep model with no US production.
  • Implications:The new Compass comes to the market with a visual appearance similar to the larger and more expensive Jeep Grand Cherokee. It also has a solid level of technology and a competitive interior design. If Jeep can avoid incentives and inexpensive leases to support the Compass's price point in the US, the vehicle may contribute to profitability even at lower volume, in comparison to the Compass/Patriot duo, while expanded global markets may contribute to stronger global volumes.
  • Outlook:The new Compass has the job of replacing two vehicles in the brand's line-up, as well as raising the image of Jeep in the compact CUV segment in the US and globally. The outgoing Patriot and previous Compass were competitively weak entries at launch and allowed to age significantly before being fully refreshed. The new Compass also has the job of increasing Jeep's presence in global markets. In 2018, the vehicle is forecast to account for 22% of Jeep's global sales volume.

Jeep is launching the all-new Compass crossover utility vehicle (CUV) on the US market, with a slow rollout beginning in March. The new vehicle replaces both the smaller Patriot and first-generation Compass. This change leaves the Renegade as the true entry Jeep, and the new Compass is flanked by that vehicle and the Cherokee in the brand's line-up. Although it is two sizes down from the Grand Cherokee, the new Compass is designed to emphasise its brand relationship with the premium Grand Cherokee. Compass was introduced in the United States at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, following the start of production start and its launch in Brazil.

Source: Stephanie Brinley, IHS Markit

While the new Compass has a wide range of global powertrains available - 17 combinations in total, according to Jeep - the US version is offered only with the 181-hp, 2.4-litre TigerShark 4-cylinder engine. The transmissions available include a 6-speed manual, available with either front- or all-wheel-drive Sport models; 6-speed automatic, available with front-drive models; and 9-speed automatic, available with the company's all-wheel-drive system. Jeep is offering the Compass in several trim configurations: Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, and Limited. The Trailhawk carries Jeep's Trail Rated status, with changes to the suspension, ground clearance, all-wheel-drive system, and front and rear fascia, as well as increased protection for the underbody, all to ensure the vehicle can handle a Jeep-designated minimum level of off-road driving. At a recent media drive event, IHS Markit had the opportunity to drive the Compass Limited and Trailhawk versions, as well as meet several members of the CUV's development team.

The Compass takes a more refined and dignified exterior and interior design than the outgoing two vehicles. As mentioned, the design brings the Compass more in line with the Grand Cherokee than the standard Cherokee, with Jeep designer Mark Allen suggesting a version of this look could be the direction for other upcoming Jeep products. A new process in the paint shop has enabled the company to offer a two-tone exterior combination of a black roof above a different body colour, with only one pass. The new process enables Jeep to add the option without slowing down production, according to the chief engineer. Jeep is making great use of the capability, as the two-tone schemes contribute to the new CUV's more refined and striking exterior. As a global product, the Compass carries the same front fascia look in all markets, with structure variations behind the look based on regional safety requirements. Differences within the range include more chrome and a different fascia from standard to Trailhawk, as well as using differences in headlights and chrome elements to offer different looks for on-road-orientated trim levels. The Trailhawk takes less brightwork and unique front and rear fascias that provide a 30-degree approach angle, 24-degree breakover angle, and 34-degree departure angle.

To support its Trail Rated status, the Trailhawk has a Rock mode in its exclusive Active Drive Low full-time 4x4 system, with a 20:1 crawl ratio, and a Selec-Terrain system that includes hill-descent control. The Trailhawk's ride height is increased by one inch from other versions and it includes protective skid plates and signature red tow hooks. The Trailhawk again lives up to Jeep's expectations on off-road capability, making it easy to get through severely rutted trails and over large rocks. Both all-wheel-drive systems have the ability to send 100% of available torque to any one wheel. Also supporting the off-road capability are 17-inch tyres; by comparison, the Limited variation takes 19-inch wheels and tyres better suited to full-time on-road driving.

In terms of pricing, the Compass comes to the US market with an attractive proposition. The base Sport 4x2 has a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of USD20,995 at launch, with the Sport 4x4's price jumping to USD22,495. In the Latitude trim, Jeep has priced both the 4x2 and the 4x4 versions at USD24,295. The Trailhawk takes the price to USD28,595, while the top-trim Limited 4x4 is priced at USD29,995. The vehicles' options can take the pricing to near USD35,000.

In terms of technology, the Compass is ready to meet the competition. Jeep parent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)'s fourth-generation UConnect system is available with different screen sizes and functional content. The Sport and Latitude models have as standard UConnect 5.0, with a 5.0-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth for phone and voice control for texts, but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Latitude is offered with the option of UConnect 7.0, which has a 7.0-inch display, increased Bluetooth capability to also include streaming audio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The UConnect 8.5 system, with an 8.5-inch screen and all the features of UConnect 7.0, is standard on the Limited and the Trailhawk. Navigation is available only with UConnect 8.5 and is optional on the Limited, Trailhawk, and Latitude trims. Moving to UConnect 8.5 Nav also equips the car with HD radio, as well as AM/FM. Sirius XM radio is available depending on package, but not bundled with UConnect. In our brief experience with UConnect 8.5 Nav, the system is fast and the graphics of UConnect and the driver instrument cluster are well designed, with colours and images that are highly descriptive and which greatly assist in communicating the Jeep brand image. Infotainment is likely to be more important for buyers of these vehicles, and the new UConnect system is faster than previously, its graphics notably updated, and its functionality high.

Safety technology includes a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-path detection, although the forward-collision warning and brake support do not include pedestrian detection. Advanced cruise control, lane departure warning plus (which uses steering torque to nudge the vehicle back on track), and rear parking assist systems are available.

Source: Stephanie Brinley, IHS Markit

Outlook and implications

The all-new Compass has the job of replacing two vehicles in the brand's line-up, as well as raising the image of Jeep in the compact CUV segment in the US and globally. The outgoing Patriot and former Compass were competitively weak entries at launch and allowed to age significantly before being fully refreshed. The new Compass also has the job of increasing Jeep's presence in global markets. It is the second Jeep with no US production. The Compass is being built in Brazil, Mexico, India and China. In 2018, the vehicle is forecast to account for 22% of Jeep's global sales volume.

On a global basis, sales are forecast to exceed those of the Patriot/Compass duo, the highest volume of which was at about 264,000 units in 2015. IHS Markit projects the new Compass will see sales above that level throughout its lifecycle, peaking in 2018 but remaining near 300,000 units through 2020. Some of this growth is a result of expanded markets as well as product competitiveness and market dynamics. The launch country for the new Compass was Brazil, where it has been an initial success. Brazilian sales in January reached 3,093 units, dominating the C-SUV segment in that market. IHS Markit projects that the US will remain the largest market for this product, representing 53% of global sales in 2018, followed by China, India, Mexico, and Brazil. By comparison, in 2015, the US accounted for 70% of Compass/Patriot sales. With sales forecast to increase to nearly 330,000 units in 2018 (an increase of 25% compared with the 2015 sales), the reduction in US share is a result of expanding markets and localised production. The new vehicle is forecast to improve Jeep's volumes and prospects globally.

In the US, the new Compass will command pricing above the outgoing product, but offers a richer suite of technology. It also narrows the gap with the Cherokee. The Cherokee is a bit larger and offers more than one engine choice, but it is possible for the higher-end Compass to cannibalise some sales from the entry side of the Cherokee, which could also prove to benefit the company, if both vehicles sell higher-contented models and achieve stronger average transaction prices.

The new Compass is forecast to see US sales reach about 175,000 units in 2018, although it will have some difficulty maintaining that volume as a result of an increased number of entries in the segment and the expectations for some competitors' US sales late in the decade. While Jeep will not have the capacity to challenge the competition on volume, the Compass offers Jeep's heritage, design, and go-anywhere image; competitive safety features; strong infotainment; and solid off-road capability in the Trailhawk.

The 2.4-litre engine is tuned for fuel economy, and Jeep was able to get all versions certified for 30 mpg or more on the highway. Both the 6-speed and 9-speed automatic transmissions take a stop-start system, but one that is not nearly as refined as systems from General Motors or others. The powertrain is calibrated to optimise fuel economy and, during our test drive, it was not difficult to feel that the engine is underpowered for this application. On paper, however, power output and torque are competitive. On the road, accessing the available power may be difficult.

About this article

The above article is from IHS Automotive Same-Day Analysis of automotive news, events and trends, and is a deliverable of the World Markets Automotive Service. The service averages thirty stories per day and also provides competitor and country intelligence. Get a free trial.


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