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Unread 08-07-2006, 04:21 PM   #1
Gramps
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Compass owner review

Highlights from the Motor Trend article and my 2 cents worth: Wranglers are priced firmly in FJ Cruiser Territory (I had an FJ40, fixed it up, had some fun and doubled my money in 2 years). The Patriot will have the Freedom II with Trail Rated low range and the Compass only has high that’s recommended for deep snow ( like when I have to go to work before the snow plows do and sometime leave for home long after they’ve quit for the day), the FWD is for daily use, including snow and rain. 60% of Compass buyers will be female. “On (Oregon’s) twisty mountain roads, the Compass shines. It’s not a sports car of any kind, but it’s a well-tuned, tall hatchback – about the size and height of the old Cherokee.” It rides taller than a conventional car (Caliber/Vibe/Matrix) and provides enough confidence for carrying speed in fast corners, with moderate body roll. (I lived in S. Oregon for 12 years, believe me they are mountains with some very fast corners and with the rain it’s white knuckle driving!) . For an entry level…SUV…comfortable ride, right amount of firmness, precise steering, good weight and feedback. (The line I LOVED) If these are “girl car attributes”, it’s time to get in touch with out feminine side. Road noise on rough roads is not excessive for a small car, but not as good as some of the small cars that have reached a premium feel. The drivers seat is 2” higher than the Calibers (both front seats actually and the rear is kind of stadium seating). The 5 speed is precise and positive, perhaps the best stick shift in the sport/utility area. The taller (higher) front seats also allow better rear seat foot room and the rear has good head room, but tight knee room (daughter and her 6’1’’ boyfriend fit just fine). The 5 spd makes better use of the engine, sprightly and fun and the CVT is a normal CVT (I like it, but some may think that I drive like an old man, well, I’m practicing). Towing capacity is 2000 according to them (and my owners manual) when equipped with the DC towing package, otherwise 1000. Jeep is being careful of having it called a “Cute Ute”. Buyers looking for a sport/utility with good road manners and exception fuel economy will find most everything they need in the Compass.

Dimensional Differences: (Keep in mind that the Compass front sears are 2’ higher that the Caliber. This information is a comparison between the Compass Limited 4X4/Caliber R/T (if known).

Cargo Area: 38.5” wide X 28” Tall, all seats up: 30” deep; rear seats down 64”; front seat down 97”.
Cargo volume: seats up 22.7/19.5; rear seats down 53.6/?; Front Passenger and rear seats folded 61.8/?.
Head Room front: 40.9/40.0; Rear: 39.9/38.9; Leg Room front: 40.6/41.8; Rear: 39.3/35.6.
Overall height: 64.2/60.4; Ground Clearance: 8.5/7.0.

Pluses in Compass’s favor: ESP, ERM, Fold-away mirrors, Side Curtain Air Bags Front AND Rear, 1.5" more Ground Clearance, 2" extra Seating Height, Interior Volume, 4X hi range lock, 7 cargo hooks in cargo area and pre-cut holes in the roof rails for cross bars.

Pluses in Caliber’s favor: Front Passenger Storage, Chill Zone (if it worked better), Illuminated Cup holders. Better TV commercials.

Improvements that Compass could use: Flex Fuel, Voltage and Oil Pressure Gage, Raise the front cup holders (like they did the seats) and illuminate them, padded arm rests all around including the console) to lose some of the plastic feel, don’t bother with a dash pad, some one will make an after market and another set of 12V and 115V outlets in the rear cargo area. Maybe add the Freedom II as an option. Get rid of the “Urban” bobble head advertising. This fits rural and bedroom community people far better. Good mileage and enough room to haul your crap back from in town. Also great for camping excursions and “treasure” hunts for us old farts.

Friends and others at work like it and have been asking questions and appear to be impressed. One friend, a Vibe owner, said it had a lot more room than hers.

If I think of things to add to this list, I'll simply add them here instead of doing a new post so you may want to revue this from time to time. If someone from DC ever reads it they can get all of the should of's in one post. If any of you think of something, I can go back into this and edit some more if you like.


1st fill up @338 miles 23.26 mpg; 2nd @ 532 miles 21.78, 3rd @ 782 miles 24.0, 4th @1050 miles 24.22, 5th@1297 miles 23.14, 6th@1510 miles 22.37.

Update 8/26: Frankly I was getting the feel for the handling etc. this last tankful before the big trip and wasn't caring about "good" mileage at all. Oil change scheduled in Albuquerque. So far, the Compass has been really great. It's comfortable to drive, visibility is good, road noise is not bad at all, instruments are easy to read, controls easy to reach. Nothing unexpected, very smooth and pretty agile. I'm only able to get the radio to play about 50 or so mp3's on each disk so far. I'm pretty sure it's the way I've got Music Match configured on my computer. My Alpine had some problems, too.

10/6/2006
Here is a more "friendly" link to a Compass review by The Car Connection. Nothing really new, just all in one article and not full of negatives. I think that it's worth reading.

http://www.thecarconnection.com/Vehi...80.A10590.html

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Unread 08-07-2006, 06:24 PM   #2
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Nice review.. I can't wait to drive these things at Camp Jeep this week.
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Unread 08-07-2006, 06:48 PM   #3
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I also wish the Freedom II and the wheels and tires from the Patriot were available on the Compass. Inside, give me full gauges. Outside a better looking front end. And please just give it regular door handles all around. Those handles in the frame were
goofy when Nissan first put them on the old Pathfinder and they are still goofy. If they are such a good idea why didn't they put them on the front doors too? I was tempted by the idea of the Compass early on but it sounds like it will need some changes before I would like to have one.
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Unread 08-07-2006, 08:23 PM   #4
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Yeah, a nicer front end but the rear door handles I thought were kind cool/unique and they also hold the door closed a lot better. I hope that the Jeep Camp has a 5 speed available for you to test. I like the CVT for what I want but when I wore a younger mans clothes I would have gone for the stick. Maybe DC will get it right for more people next time around. It certainly isn't for everybody but then everything that Detroit (or whoever) builds is a compromise in some way. I love mine regardless of what I think are minor short comings and if it gets more people in to a Jeep that would have gone with an import I'm for it. We'll maybe end up with a Patriot too one of these days, my wife is looking to replace her GC in the next couple of years.

Last edited by Gramps; 08-08-2006 at 07:54 PM..
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Unread 08-08-2006, 07:17 AM   #5
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Going to test drive one tonight.

One question about the drive.

It's basically a FWD chassis that is capable of AWD. Yes?

But is the center diff always engaged, or ONLY engaged when you lock it?

I.E. Can you use AWD for intermittently compromised traction surfaces (rain, light snow, occassional patches of ice) or do you only have a locked diff, deep snow setting?

I THOUGHT it was the former from what I had read, but something about the first post and some of the quotes from that article are making me wonder.

Kev
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Unread 08-08-2006, 07:54 AM   #6
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Cool! Welcome to JF and thanks for all the INFO!
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Unread 08-08-2006, 09:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev M
Going to test drive one tonight.

One question about the drive.

It's basically a FWD chassis that is capable of AWD. Yes?

But is the center diff always engaged, or ONLY engaged when you lock it?

I.E. Can you use AWD for intermittently compromised traction surfaces (rain, light snow, occassional patches of ice) or do you only have a locked diff, deep snow setting?

I THOUGHT it was the former from what I had read, but something about the first post and some of the quotes from that article are making me wonder.

Kev
The non 4X4 model is FWD.
The 4X4 is normally an AWD (which works like other AWD and GENERALLY runs off of the front drive but automatically engages the rear wheels when needed. Then there is a locking coupler that can you engage in really adverse conditions that sends the torque 50% each to the front and rear set of wheels. There are a few other features of it that are in the owners manual that I haven't studied yet but, I understand those features would be helpful in sand or just out having a good time. Hope this helps, if not, I'll try again tonight to 'spain it more better.
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Unread 08-08-2006, 10:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grampsmopar
The non 4X4 model is FWD.
The 4X4 is normally an AWD (which works like other AWD and GENERALLY runs off of the front drive but automatically engages the rear wheels when needed. Then there is a locking coupler that can you engage in really adverse conditions that sends the torque 50% each to the front and rear set of wheels. There are a few other features of it that are in the owners manual that I haven't studied yet but, I understand those features would be helpful in sand or just out having a good time. Hope this helps, if not, I'll try again tonight to 'spain it more better.
Perfect explanation and EXACTLY what my first impression of it was, thanks!

Yup. Very seriously looking at em, with a hope to buy, by the end of the year.

I'll report back my impressions after driving one tonight!

Kev
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Unread 08-08-2006, 10:25 AM   #9
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Kev, If it's a CVT don't be afraid to give it some gas to get off the line, you can't over rev it. There is also a "kick down" switch (for lack of a better name) that when you nail to the floor it'll take you up to 6 grand and your speed will come up accordingly. For best mileage I try and match the Tack and Speedo ascension rate up to about 40 - 45 and then the RPM drops off and your speed keeps going up. I hope that you enjoy your ride. Oh, yeah, the Auto Stick. If you try it out for manual shifting and want to go back to drive, just hold it all the way to the right and it will go back.
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Unread 08-08-2006, 10:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grampsmopar
Kev, If it's a CVT don't be afraid to give it some gas to get off the line, you can't over rev it. There is also a "kick down" switch (for lack of a better name) that when you nail to the floor it'll take you up to 6 grand and your speed will come up accordingly. For best mileage I try and match the Tack and Speedo ascension rate up to about 40 - 45 and then the RPM drops off and your speed keeps going up. I hope that you enjoy your ride. Oh, yeah, the Auto Stick. If you try it out for manual shifting and want to go back to drive, just hold it all the way to the right and it will go back.

Noted. Thanks

Yeah, if I didn't say earlier, we're interested in getting a 5-speed, but the local Jeep dealer (a big one too), has already stated they are NOT going to get any in (unless it is a special order for someone who definitely wants it) as they sell so few sticks each year. I realize I'm looking at a cute-ute, but when did their ENTIRE customer base become such a bunch of *******?
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Unread 08-08-2006, 11:17 AM   #11
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When I was dealing with the Caliber all that was coming in to the dealers was the CVT, it's almost like DC wants to flood the market with them. The only stick that you can get on those is with the 1800 and those didn't show up for about 3 months after the release. Maybe by the end of the year they'll have the bugs worked out of the robots but, you may want to figure about 8 - 10 weeks deliver because they should have the Patriot under way too. Most Jeeps NEVER go off the road so a lot of folks probably like automatics in their pavement pounders.
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Unread 08-08-2006, 11:34 AM   #12
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A long lead time wouldn't be a problem for me.

Either I'm gonna have to sell the XJ privately OR my company may buy it so that we can keep a workhorse around for our use. I'm keeping my finger's crossed for the later option!

Besides, I can always get around on the bikes until then.

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Unread 08-08-2006, 07:28 PM   #13
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Some may find this helpful and maybe use these as “Cliff Notes”

Terms and definitions used on Compass electronic traction features.

Electronic Brake Control System – includes Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), Traction Control System (TCS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM) and Electronic Stability Program (ESP)

ABS – Anti-lock Brake System – Improves steering control during hard braking by controlling hydraulic pressure to prevent wheel lock up.

TCS – Traction Control System - Monitors wheel spin. Applies brake pressure to the spinning wheel and reduces power but increases acceleration. A feature of TCS is that it acts as a limited slip differential and controls wheel spin across a driven axel. This feature remains active even if ESP is in “Partial Off” or “Off” modes.

BAS – Brake Assist System – Detects emergency braking situations by sensing the rate and amount of brake application and applies the optimum pressure to the brakes. Do not reduce the brake pressure until the situation has ended. Releasing the pressure deactivates the BAS.

ERM – Electronic Roll Mitigation – This system only activates during very severe or evasive maneuvers by monitoring the rate of change in the steering wheel input and the vehicle speed. When the system determines that these inputs are enough to cause wheel lift the appropriate brake is applied and may reduce engine power to prevent the lifting.

ESP – Electronic Stability Program – This system enhances directional control and corrects over/under steer by applying the appropriate brake to correct it. ESP uses vehicle sensors to compare the intended path with the actual path and applies the appropriate brake and may reduce engine power.

ESP 2WD (and AWD) modes. Default is ON.

Partial ESP – Momentarily depress the ESP switch, see TCS above. All of the other functions of TCS are still active except engine power is reduced. This function is intended for deep snow, sand or gravel and more wheel spin than normally allowed is required to gain traction. Momentarily depress the ESP switch to cancel. Note: When using snow chains or under the above conditions, it may be desirable to start with “Partial Off” and once moving switch back to “ON”

ESP 4WD modes – In addition to the 2WD modes all 4WD vehicles can also use ESP OFF. This mode is intended for off-highway or off-road use when ESP stability features could inhibit vehicle maneuverability due to trail conditions. With the vehicle stopped and engine running, hold the ESP switch for 5 seconds. Press the trip odometer button to clear the “ESP OFF” message. In this mode ESP and TCS (except limited slip) are turned off until the vehicle reaches 35 mph, ESP will be off at low speeds and on at higher speeds. Press the ESP switch to turn ON again.

Caveat: There is no substitute for common sense and good judgment. Drive like a fool, die like a fool.
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Unread 08-08-2006, 08:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grampsmopar
Some may find this helpful and maybe use these as “Cliff Notes”
Caveat: There is no substitute for common sense and good judgment. Drive like a fool, die like a fool.
True. Learn how to drive and learn the handling and limits of the vehicle you are driving. Too many people today do neither.
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Unread 08-09-2006, 06:44 AM   #15
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Well, we got to drive a pretty well loaded Compass Limited CVT - it had MOST of the items I would order if I were to get one, including the Boston Acoustics speaker package and, driver information center, integrated Sirius radio. But it was missing the trailer tow prep group, 5-speed and full-size spare which would be part of my requirements.

Initial thoughts

Though physically this vehicle is in the same size range as my XJ, it feels much smaller and more "enclosed". I think it is a combination of the lack of visible hood from the driver's seat and the smallish windows coupled with LARGE pillars. I would think that the rear pillars are so big that they would interfere a little with backing up, but honestly I didn't have a problem with that, between the mirrors and large enough rear view.

Initial impressions were that power was anemic at best, though PART of that is likely just being unfamiliar with a CVT. Your mind is waiting to hear the shifts that just don't seem to come. Once off the line the vehicle moves well enough, but there is a certain lack of excitement or entertainment factor that you get with a better power-to-weight ratio and maybe the ability to clutch and shift.

I find myself somewhat skeptical to believe the 2k tow rating, and this could be important as we currently have a 1500 lbs or so rig (boat, motor, trailer) that we MIGHT need the Compass to serve occassional tow duty for if we get rid of the XJ (which we need to do finiancially if we get a new vehicle at this time).

That said the numbers work on paper and power-to-weight ratio is not all that different from another occassional tow vehicle we've used for this rig, the Subaru Forrester. Yup, we're long time pioneers in this crossover thing, having ordered a Forrester sight unseen back in 97/98 when they were first coming out. As an aside, we're cross-shopping the Compass with a Subaru Baja.

Back to the Compass.

Initial impression also left me unimpressed with the Boston Accoustics speaker package. Even after adjusting the bass, treble, midrange and balance I was unable to loose a somewhat tinny sound quality. Now truth is, I still have hopes we could do better with the settings given more time. Having been an XM subscriber now for about 3 years, I just cannot listen to most broadcast radio (from a static, sound quality and commercial standpoint), but even after switching to Sirius (the account was activated on this demo vehicle) the sound quality of the system left something to be desired. It was NO WHERE NEAR the excellent sound of the premium Jeep system that was in my 99 WJ, not that I expected it to match it, but I did expect something closer than something further away.

Driver information center is a must for me. I like having a trip computer, mpg monitor, range to empty etc. The tire pressure monitoring system was excellent giving a digital display of the actual pressures on all 4 tires. And, though I didn't check, the system had a menu for "personal preference settings." On Jeep vehicles I've owned and driven in the past this allowed quick and easy access for things like shutting off the loud and annoying chirp on the security system at activation, or selecting whether or not the lights would flash etc. However, unlike the XJ, WJ or KJ, they've located the information center IN the instrument cluster and the buttons to toggle through the settings are not readily accessible while driving (as you need to reach through or around the steering wheel, as they are in the normal placement for trip meter resetting knobs/buttons).

Ride quality was good enough, about what you'd expect from a compact cross-over. However there was more road noise than I would have liked. Perhaps it's the type of tires mounted on those 18 in. wheels, but when I got out I had to look through the wheels to the brake calipers/pads to see if by some miricle a backing plate was grinding on a rotor. I suspect it is something I'd get used to and no notice after some time, but my initial impression was one of annoyance.

OK, enough for my nitpicks - now to the good.

Price - ok, I wasn't given a stellar quote, but their number was $500 over the invoice reported by KBB.com for a vehicle with the same package. And honestly, that's still NOT a bad price for a vehicle with so many options. Many competitor vehicles would require additional packages and $$$ for the same features.

The interior, though of more budget minded materials, was well layed out, with plenty of leg and head room for average sized people. The front passenger seat lays flat forward for people with mobile offices (to plug their laptops into the AC outlet) or for loading long cargo. The rear seats fold flat forward, OR recline a couple of settings for longer ride, rear passenger comfort.

Though the cockpit feels smallish (in a good way to me, call it cozy) due to smaller windows, visiblity was good. Thanks to insert glass at the rear of the rear doors, all 4 windows roll fully downward (as they should on any well thought out vehicle).

I'm sure the cargo area, with the rear seats up, is not the size of the XJ or KL, but it certainly seems sufficient for typical grocery getter and camping needs, until our family grows to a point where we would occupy ALL the seats.

I liked the dash and controls. Once you have heated leathers seats and steering wheel audio controls, any vehicle lacking them will feel, well, like something is lacking, so their inclusion is not only welcome, it's a must to me.

I also like the fact that the spare fits under the cargo floor instead of taking away cargo space or hanging on the rear door.

Overall I give the vehicle a B+ or A- for mostly meeting my desires and expectations, at a reasonable price. If the mileage figures of 26/29 (5-speed, AWD) are close to accurate, they more than justify me making the move (along with the amenities for which I've been searching), but I DO hope the 5-speed allows for a bit more feel and enjoyment of the powerband from a driver's standpoint.

Now the question is, will my company by my XJ (so I still have access to it) and/or will I sell it for a reasonable amount in order to make the payments work on a new Compass (or possibly Subaru Baja).

Kev
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