When I first started my quest for a new Daily Driver I knew pretty much what I was after, decent gas mileage, good handling, leather interior, comfortable seats, sound system, good ground clearance but it had to be more than that. It had to be able to carry a good amount of “stuff “from our treasure hunts which was a major secondary purpose and be completely enclosed, not another pick-up. I have friends at work that have Vibes and really like them and I liked the concept of a 5 door hatch back type of vehicle. The Matrix was ruled out because of no leather and by the time that I put everything on the Vibe that I had wanted it was on the high end of the price range and just another Pontiac. I had also looked at the Hyundai Tucson and Santa Fe and several others that looked like copies of the classic Jeep style and things got to be pretty ‘ho hum” along those lines, just nothing grabbed me. It was then that I saw that Dodge was replacing the Neon with the Caliber and it looked sharp! I took a trip to the Chicago Auto show in February of last year to take a look at it and later test drove several SXT’s and an R/T. The R/T, I thought, had a much better ride, was AWD and had some extra equipment as standard and was going to be available in the spring and I did need it for an up coming trip to Tucson. The Compass was also at the auto show but its announced delivery date was “late summer”, a little too late to have in time for the pending trip right at the end of August and the wife told me flat out (kidding) that if there was going to be a new Jeep, it was going to be hers. I went down to the local dealer and ordered a Caliber the first week in April and waited, and waited, and waited… It was now the middle of July and still no word on a delivery date. I was told stories about the robot arms crashing at the plant when they were trying to run the new Compass’ through and production on everything was being delayed. WHATEVER! All I knew for sure was that I didn’t have my Caliber and I was running out of time! In a fit of frustration and as a fluke I went on Jeep.com and did a search on the Compass, thinking that if the Compass is the hold up then maybe there are some of them at the dealers. I found just what I was looking for about 11 miles from where I work so I took the afternoon off to go take a look. For me, it was just about love at first site, it wasn’t the Caliber orange but red, REALLY RED! Chrome wheels, not just aluminum, and a sunroof, the right sound system and it was AWD with a 4 wheel lock (icing on the cake). I thought that it just doesn’t get any better than this. I went back home and told the wife about this red Compass with the black leather interior that I had found and she kind of wrote it off that I was just ticked off because the Caliber hadn’t come in. She didn’t have to approve of me buying it but to keep peace and harmony I felt that she at least had to like it. It took me a full 10 days to convince her to go take a look with me but the dealership is 45 miles from home. When she saw it I think that she kind of got a feeling for it too. She said that I had told her that it had a black interior, not that it was two toned! Well, EXCUSE ME! She liked it, that’s all that mattered! They had already made me a heck of an offer and now since it was the dealerships “birthday” they’d give $1500 for whatever I could drive back up there. Needless to say, I drove the Compass home that night and I’ve never given it a second thought as to if I’d made the right decision.
What does 12 K miles in a Compass give you? Lots of value for the money, lots of peace of mind and lots of safety features as standard equipment! Features like up to 8 ½ inches of ground clearance, great handling, responsive steering, comfortable seats, lots of head room, room for a 6’ plus person in the back seat with knee and foot room with the stadium like seating, drivers seat height adjustment, ample storage with the fold flat seats, Electronic Stability Program and Traction Control, Electronic Roll Mitigation, Anti-lock 4 wheel dick brakes, front AND side air bags and a whole list of other things either as standard or optional that you can find listed on the Jeep website.
The fit and finish is really quite good and the plastic interior that some have complained about is very easy to clean and maintain. The visibility with the rather large front windshield pillars takes a little bit of paying extra attention and an extra look but as they say “hang up and drive!”
I’ve been in 107 degree heat in Tucson, 22 below in Wisconsin, the flatlands of Illinois, the hills and mountains in Missouri, New Mexico, Arizona, the wind and rain in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Tucson and nothing seems to affect my Compass. It has always started instantly and stops, corners and maneuvers almost like a sports car. I’ve been through a down pour in Tucson when the streets were flooded with about 6” – 8” of water and through about 5” – 8” snow drifts here at home with no problems. Snow, ice, wind and water mean nothing to the Compass. The ONLY problem that I believe is worth mentioning is the driver’s side rear window that got stuck and was fixed by adjusting the window channel under a warranty repair.
Someone is bound to ask if I’m maybe a little bit sorry that I couldn’t wait for the Patriot. Simply put, NO. The Compass LOOKS different and I love it. It’s not a copy cat or “I wanna be like everybody else”. The Compass will set itself apart by those who dare to be different and not follow the crowd. The Patriot will be better received by those who enjoy the classic Jeep style but, I do wonder how many Patriots are going to have the Trail Rated package that so many seem to be all hyped up about. Stop and think for a minute, if they are the same chassis then won’t all of those off the shelf pieces that go into the Trail Rated Patriot also fit a Compass along with the programming for it? Logically, the answer is yes. And won’t the Caliber SRT 300 hp turbo also fit? Weren’t Jeeps meant to be modified? Just like the old hot rod saying “didn’t all Willy’s coupes come with a Hemi?”
Whether you like the Compass or the Patriot it won’t matter. The chassis and drive train under them is all Jeep inspired. They are a great General Purpose Road Rated vehicle, as intended, as designed by Jeep.
PS; The "back up order" for the Caliber arrived at the dealer last week and they just finished prepping it.
Thought somebody may be interested in know that.