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Detroit show: Jeep puts Compass back on track

Four points of the Compass: The new Jeep Compass can be ordered with all-wheel drive.

Jeep reveals stylish new Compass but it may not come to Australia

11 Jan 2011

JEEP turned its Compass in a new direction this week at the North American International Auto Show with a dramatic facelift.

The Chrysler Group took the covers off the new-look compact SUV in Detroit, revealing a design that takes cues from its upmarket Grand Cherokee sibling.

Chrysler Australia dropped the slow-selling Compass from its range in 2009, but has retained the Patriot, which is basically the same vehicle beneath the sheetmetal.

The Australian arm of the US car-maker said it was too early to say whether the new-look Compass could return to this country.

“We are looking into the availability of Compass at the moment,” said Chrysler Group Australia spokesman Dean Bonthorne. “If it is made available, we’d love to have a look at it.” While the last Patriot and Compass were too close in positioning, the new Compass will be positioned a step above the Patriot and will come with more standard features, while the Patriot would remain the affordable entry-level Jeep.

“With the redesign and repositioning, we believe there would now be a place for the Compass in our range,” said Mr Bonthorne.

9 center imageLeft: Jeep Compass.

Chrysler Australia has already committed to the facelifted Patriot, which will arrive in Australia around April, but there is no guarantee the Compass will be made available in right-hand drive.

Convincing management in Detroit and at Fiat in Italy is the challenge for Chrysler Australia, which is working on a business case for the fresh Compass.

Jeep CEO Mike Manly presented the new Compass at Detroit and revealed it will be available with all-wheel drive whereas the previous model came with front-drive only. It will also be available with an off-road package for relatively mild off-road work.

Mr Manly said Jeep has listened to potential customers who were not happy the Compass was unable to go off-road.

“That made some people ask, ‘Is it really a true Jeep?’ but with trail-rating it certainly is a Jeep through and through,” he said.

The new Compass has fresh panels from the A-pillar forward, with a design that resembles a shrunken Grand Cherokee.

There is also a new rear fascia, new tail-lights, an upgraded interior with new door skins, a new centre console and a new steering wheel with integrated audio controls.

Jeep said the cabin has also been made quieter and claims to have also improved the ride and handling as well as making the continuously variable transmission (CVT) operate more smoothly.

There will be three model grades in the US and the base model comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, cruise control and heated wing mirrors.

Standard safety gear includes ESC, ABS, front and side curtain airbags, and hill-start assist.

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