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Unread 09-29-2006, 07:31 AM   #1
Kev M
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Convince Me to Buy a Compass

OK Guys, XJ Sold last night, so I have to make my mind up. I'm trying to decide by tomorrow.

Here are my options

1. Order a new Compass, 5-speed Limited, loaded - for invoice MINUS holdback - so about $22k plug TTT

2. Locate a new Subaru Baja, 5-speed Sport - not quite a loaded, for invoice MINUS most of holdback for about $21k plus TTT but have them add heated leather seats for another $1500 or so.

3. Buy a new Rav4 Base (for the 3rd row seat) and do without a lot of toys (like sunroof, steering wheel audio controls, heated leather seats) for MSRP (I'm trying like hell, but they're not giving numbers approaching invoice), so that means they're ASKING $26.5 plus TTT

4. Buy a new Rav4 Sport for about MSRP and at least get the sunroof and steering wheel audio controls, but no 3rd row, no heated or leather, and all for asking of $27.5 plus TTT


So here's the deal.

The Yoda's are probably out because they are more than we want to spend right now and I doubt I can get them down where I need them to be.

The Scoobie is REALLY tempting because I KNOW it will be solid.

The only thing REALLY holding me back on the Compass is no long-term reliability data and the fact that I think it feels a little "cheap"

I LOVED my XJ that I just got rid of, EXCEPT that niggling little BS problems drove me NUTS. Broken seat, stuff like that.

So new Compass owners like Gramps... convince me I won't regret buying a Compass come 5 years from now!!!!

Kev

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Unread 09-29-2006, 08:53 AM   #2
Gramps
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Kev, need more info. How many kids and how old are they? How far away are your camping trips? Basically, how much room do you need? A little can mean a lot with a growing family.

Right off the bat I'd say the RAV 4 was out because of the lack of "goodies". If you could deal with that (and the mileage) you may have kept your XJ.

As far as reliability goes, 6300 miles may not mean much but absolutely no hint of any problems what so ever.
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Unread 09-29-2006, 09:07 AM   #3
Kev M
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More info, ok, here's a bio.

Family is Me, Jenn (wife) and Kelli (daughter). Kelli will be 8 on X-mass day (she's a gift from my first marriage).

Jenn is in school, has another year and a half to go, then FINALLY for the first time since we met, she'll be contributing $$$ (she'll be 26 soon, been in school since we met and she was 18). However, she'll STILL have 3-4 years or so of residency (so not making all that much).

Sometime during late residency Jenn plans on popping out 2 boys (don't ask me how she's gonna manage that, but she USUALLY gets what she wants .

So, family is just the 3 of us for now, but will eventually be 4-5. Still, that will be 4-5 years from now at least and we'll probably replace her current vehicle and can get a family mover anyway (or keep her current vehicle and add to the fleet, but I doubt it, her poor little 03 Mini Cooper ALREADY has 60k miles on it, so by 4-5 more years it will likely be 140-160k at this rate).

We don't camp all that much, but do get up to the Pocono's a couple of hours away from time-to-time. Same goes for occasional trips to see relatives in NY or CT.

We tow our boat to the Chesapeake and back in the summer. About 40 minutes each way, pretty flat.

Most of our family duty/grocery getting is around town. The three of us and maybe one of Kelli's friends.

Don't count the RAV4 out on mileage, the V6 5-speed is rated at 28 mpg on the highway!!! (but you can probably count the damn thing out on price anyway, cause I don't think they're gonna move on it and I don't think I'm willing/ready to eat that much of a payment right now).

Gramps, am I on drugs when it comes to the "feel" of the Compass.

Crawled around a Scoobie-Doo and a Yoda yesterday and they both felt VERY solid from a fit/finish/materials standpoint.

I do like the Compass, but I'm a little gunshy about cheap parts.

Kev
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Unread 09-29-2006, 09:23 AM   #4
Gramps
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Kev, thanks for the additional info.
I'm going to have to take a look at the Baja before I can answer.
The feel of the "Compass" of course is relative. Is it because of tha massive amounts of plastic that carries over to other things just because of it's presents or is it the ride with independent suspention or ????

I was just talking to a friend about it yesterday and admitted that I had no regrets, it has met my expectations and then some. For ME it's what I wanted and both the wife and I are happy that I got it. She runs around on weekends with it instead of her '96 GC.
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Unread 09-29-2006, 09:42 AM   #5
Kev M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grampsmopar
Kev, thanks for the additional info.
The feel of the "Compass" of course is relative. Is it because of tha massive amounts of plastic that carries over to other things just because of it's presents or is it the ride with independent suspention or ????
I'm sure the feel of the Compass is a subjective thing. Yes, the materials certainly contribute to that feel. But there is something else, sort of an intangible. It could be the sound the door makes when it closes, the tolerences of the body lines.

It could VERY well just as easily be my brain playing tricks on me. You know, taking worries about niggling little quality (creak and rattle) issues with a previous Jeep and transfering that onto the unproven state of the Compass.

There is NO denying one thing, the Compass represent as TREMENDOUS value with regards to the amount of equippment you get at a price. It could simply be that I'm suffering a little reverse sticker shock.


<sarcasm on>
Cause everyone KNOWS that the more EXPENSIVE product is always better, right?
<sarcasm off>

I'm just TRYING REALLY, REALLY hard to be objective about this decision.

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Unread 09-29-2006, 09:53 AM   #6
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Hold out for a JK Unlimited!
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Unread 09-29-2006, 10:09 AM   #7
Kev M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keithert
Hold out for a JK Unlimited!
No can do.

Doesn't fit our need specs.

And more importantly.

Kelli is gonna get sick and tired of dressing up in layers of motorcycle gear to go to school on these 40 degree F mornings in a month or two (the amount of time she'll have to motorcycle commute with me while we wait for even a Compass to be built to our spec).

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Unread 09-29-2006, 11:06 AM   #8
Melanie
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My Compass is on order, so my "insights" come only from my research, numerous test drives and gut impressions. Having been a Jeep owner previously (used '90 YJ Laredo and, until the Compass comes, a 2000 Cherokee Sport), I like the sense of safety that comes with the Jeep. However, I'm not the type who is going off-roading on the weekends, and so only need the 4 wheel drive for those Canadian winters. I moved up from a Neon to the Cherokee because at the time, I needed space to stash a double stroller and wanted a little more style than a minivan.

Granted the Compass has a lot of plastic in the interior, but it doesn't scream "CHEAP" to me. Jeeps - unless you go for the tricked out GCs and Commanders - are utilitarian vehicles. The plain interior of the Compass is no different to me than the plain interior of my Cherokee. I've read reviews that complain about the lack of a padded armrest in the Compass. My YJ didn't even have armrests!

I'm a brand loyalist. Haven't had any unreasonable problems with the other Jeeps, and my father's been driving his GC for 11 years now. The Compass, with its AWD and lockable 4 LO, will give me the safety I need for the winter and will be a little easier on my pocketbook in terms of gas usage.

I can understand the "more expensive equals better" mindset, but given what gramps has been posting, it seems like the Compass has been decent. His info solidified my decision to order a Compass (thanks, gramps). I'm looking at the Compass as a little bug to get me around in a little bit of style. I'm also looking at how the Caliber's been doing, since this is essentially the same vehicle, right? So far, all signs look good.
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Unread 09-29-2006, 11:38 AM   #9
Kev M
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Great post Melanie.

How many miles are on your 00 Sport? And what type of condition is it in? Had any problems or repairs.

I just sold a 98 Cherokee with 94k miles on it. It's a SOLID vehicle when it comes to the drivetrain, but the interior and some of the components (especially electrical) were on the cheap side. Some things broke that I just think shouldn't have.

That said, I KNOW it is going to run for another 100k miles for the new owner.

I'm just re-examining the amount of money I'm going to spend.

I look at my ex's 98 Forrester, it's got 158k miles on it, and frankly it still looks and feels like new. Pretty amazing as far as I'm concerned.

I'm trying to predict whether or not the Compass for equal money is going to in 8 years...

Kev
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Unread 09-29-2006, 02:22 PM   #10
Melanie
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Kev,

The Cherokee's got about 114k miles on it now, and that number will keep going up until the Compass arrives! I can't complain about the Cherokee's performance, and I'm sure that whoever buys it will get a lot more use out of it. A few rust spots that can be easily touched up are the only problems with the body, but the AC is gone and the power windows only work from the driver's side controls. I also had the strangest time with the hood release cable, which broke and needed to be replaced twice.

If I get as much use out of the Compass as I got out of the Cherokee, I'll be more than happy with the purchase. The Cherokee was also purchased used, so I will be able to begin a good body maintenance program from the beginning.

Having gone from a YJ to a Neon to the Cherokee, I'm not at all affected by the appearance of the Compass' interior. (But look at my past experience, right?) The interior of the Cherokee still looks great, and the only issue is some cracking in the vinyl near the bottom of the front seats. Made sure to check for any vinyl in the Compass before I placed the order!

Mel
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Unread 09-29-2006, 03:07 PM   #11
Kev M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melanie
Kev,

The Cherokee's got about 114k miles on it now, and that number will keep going up until the Compass arrives! I can't complain about the Cherokee's performance, and I'm sure that whoever buys it will get a lot more use out of it. A few rust spots that can be easily touched up are the only problems with the body, but the AC is gone and the power windows only work from the driver's side controls. I also had the strangest time with the hood release cable, which broke and needed to be replaced twice.
LOL, I think you just made my point for me.

Look at a 150k+ BMW or Subaru and you don't typically have those problems. For the record, the AC compressor also died on the XJ last year at about 92k miles, and it cost $1300 or so for compressor, receiver drier etc.

No power window problems on my old girl, but the driver's seat cracked and broke (and I've read about that being an issue), and it seems to have the turn signal switch issue, and the hood release cable broke just the other day when people came to look at it.

This is exactly the kind of thing that I have not seen happen as much on some other brands.

I'm not saying that Jeeps are bad vehicles, not by a long shot, but for equal money, I can't help but wonder if I wouldn't have a better long term mechanical experience with a Scoobie-Doo.

Quote:
Having gone from a YJ to a Neon to the Cherokee, I'm not at all affected by the appearance of the Compass' interior. (But look at my past experience, right?) The interior of the Cherokee still looks great, and the only issue is some cracking in the vinyl near the bottom of the front seats. Made sure to check for any vinyl in the Compass before I placed the order!

It can be what you are used to or become used to. Last night when we were at the Yoda dealership I was struck by how high quality both the exterior and interior appeared/felt. And I've always felt that way about Scoobie-Doos.

Oh yeah, cracking vinyl, my Cherokee had that too.

Sounds like some of these Jeep components definitely only have a life expectancy of 100k miles. No biggie if you plan on replacing them by or before that point. It's just a shame, when you consider that the Cherokee body/drivetrain really has a life expectancy of more like 200k+

Kev
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Unread 09-30-2006, 06:56 AM   #12
Gramps
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Kev,
You have to convince yourself that you will be happy with whatever you buy. We do have somewhat different criteria that we are using to convince ourselves that “this” is the right vehicle for our needs. I was replacing a rust bucket Dakota 2wd with a leaky shell and no A/C that was taking $300 a month to get me back and forth to work that scared the crap out of me driving in the winter. I had to have something that was safe to drive, fully enclosed, got good mileage and had enough room for our “treasure” hunts. I also wanted leather interior, heated seats and some other creature comforts that just made life a little better while driving. The Compass offered me the most bang for my buck for what I wanted. Comparing the Compass to any other Jeep is not really an apples to apples comparison. It is totally new from the tires on up. Different engine, transmission, A/C, and even the AWD and 4WD is not typical Jeep (how many people have pointed that out?). Since it is new and there is no history and some really crappy reviews from the magazine world, I decided to do my own review and hopefully help others make a decision on whether the Compass would be right for them (thanks for the kind words Melanie). I like new, I like unique, I like innovation and I like practical. The “Spartan, utilitarian, inexpensive, cheap, plastic interior or whatever anybody wants to call it is very practical and easy to clean. My 35 year old Challenger is almost all plastic too and the only things that needed replacing were the vinyl dash pad and arm rests, the plastic is still doing great. The Compass rides like a car because, simple put, it’s not based on a truck. It’s not made to compete off road, it’s made to compete on the road and I think it handles that very well. I feel totally safe, comfortable and in control when I’m driving. I don’t feel like I’m shoe horned in to the seats like I do in my daughters ’98 Dakota even though the Compass is considered a compact and the Dakota is a mid-sized. No it’s not as roomy as my wife’s GC but then I don’t feel top heavy and I get better mileage and there is certainly plenty of room for my daily commute which is the primary propose.

It looks like the Baja is an Outback with a pick-up bed on it and I did look at the Outback Wagon when I was shopping around and it, like many others, was a bit too pricy for what I wanted and just didn’t “feel” right to me. I also had some old reservations about Subaru because of some early dealings with them. They have come a long way on their quality from their early days. I have two friends at work that have Outback’s so I asked them how they liked theirs. One is a 2001 Wagon that was bought new and has had a head gasket replace under warrantee, mileage is “fine” (she doesn’t keep track of it that much) and loves her AWD over 4WD. No problems, 130K miles and loves her car. She does point out that the rear seats are not very comfortable on long trips.The other is the sedan, bought used and last year he had the wheel bearings replaced and the timing belt. He’s disappointed with his mileage at 23 mpg, he had expected better.

My preference is a totally enclosed vehicle so that ALL of my stuff, no matter what it is, is protected from the elements. Since the Compass’s seats all fold down I can haul long items whenever I need to and once I get the Sport Bars I’ll have full length hauling capabilities on top too. You won’t have that with the pick up bed on the Baja but maybe that’s not important to you.

Kev, my finally word is that you and I are alike in analyzing stuff to death (according to my wife) and that when we do make a decision it’s the right one for us and we’re happy that we chose what we did. I hope that my review has helped you make the RIGHT decision for you.
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Unread 09-30-2006, 08:16 AM   #13
Kev M
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grampsmopar
Kev,
You have to convince yourself that you will be happy with whatever you buy. We do have somewhat different criteria that we are using to convince ourselves that “this” is the right vehicle for our needs. I was replacing a rust bucket Dakota 2wd with a leaky shell and no A/C that was taking $300 a month to get me back and forth to work that scared the crap out of me driving in the winter. I had to have something that was safe to drive, fully enclosed, got good mileage and had enough room for our “treasure” hunts. I also wanted leather interior, heated seats and some other creature comforts that just made life a little better while driving. The Compass offered me the most bang for my buck for what I wanted.

<snipped a lot of goof stuff>

Kev, my finally word is that you and I are alike in analyzing stuff to death (according to my wife) and that when we do make a decision it’s the right one for us and we’re happy that we chose what we did. I hope that my review has helped you make the RIGHT decision for you.
Great thoughts, and I appreciate you taking the time.

Actually our "needs" are more similar than dis-similar.

And yes, I suspect we are VERY alike in analyzing stuff to death (but for me that's fun, I assume it's the same with you no?).

We're going out shopping today to drive some Bajas and another Compass back-to-back. Gonna try hard to actually make a decision today and of course, I'll report back.

Kev
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Unread 09-30-2006, 08:22 AM   #14
Gramps
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Yeah Kev, I think we are quite a lot alike...Twins sons of different mothers, born a few years apart. Maybe we'll have pizza and beer someday. I do LOVE analyzing and research. You'll make the right decision whatever you buy.
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Unread 09-30-2006, 06:52 PM   #15
Kev M
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OK, well, I have to report on the second test drive AND the final decision.

First off the test drive.

We were heading out to test drive a Baja, but my wife suggested that we drive a Compass AGAIN first, so that we'd experience them back-to-back.

I got into the Compass with a VERY critical eye. And I banged and tweaked and poked and proded again before we ever moved. I scrolled through the driver information center, through the driver programmable features (something I think is truly brilliantly simple and smart for an auto manufacturer to do). I even went station-by-station through Sirius until I found Air Margarritaville and slowly played with all the settings.

Here are my impressions.

YES, the plastic exudes, uhh, not "cheap" but "frugal". At the same time, banging it around and looking very critically I decided that it seems quite strong and smart. Actually, I grew to like it very much during the test drive.

The Stereo, that I'd formally felt was sub-par balanced out nicely and, if you're careful not to over-set the treble, but lean towards power in the mid-range and bass comes across as both powerful and crisp. I was quite satisfied with it.

I took the opportunity to put it through its paces, both on backroads and down the highway. With all 4 windows rolled down, there was little or no buffeting (something I very much liked about my XJ too). And with the windows down OR up, the sunroof too was both quiet and lacked buffeting. The attention to detail in the aerodynamics and ergonomics instilled a confidence I had not previously felt in the platform.

Close all the windows and roll along the highway in the rain at 80 mph and the chassis was both quiet and comfortable. PA roads are regularly voted amongst the worst in the country so to find the chassis comfortable over such irregular surfaces is to say something.

NO, it's not GC quiet. No, it's not GC comfortable, but it struck me as both quiet and capable.

I even started to get used to the CVT, almost to the point of considering one.

By the time I exited the vehicle I was in complete turmoil, as I'd basically decided in my mind last night that the Scoobie-Doo Baja would be my next purchase.

We returned the vehicle and told them we'd have a decision by closing time.

Then if was off to "Car Sense" to drive a lightly used Baja (unfortunately it was an automatic Baja Turbo, which we had to consciously remind ourselves was going to give some false impressions, like quite tempting short sprints of 0-100, but perhaps luckily we also noted that it had obviously been owned by a ricky-racer type who had managed to warp the front rotors in less than 15k miles ).

Anyway, I LITERALLY didn't get out of the parking lot before I realized the difference that would later lead to my decision. At the first turn the steering was so quick and confident I realized that the difference between the Baja and Compass was simple.

The Baja was a CAR which was built as strong and arguably as capable as most compact SUVs, but HANDLED like a Car.

The Compass was an SUV which was probably as strong and capable as most compact SUVs, but HANDLED more like an SUV.

Sure the Compass turns and CERTAINLY it BRAKES (wow the brakes were great). But it was not as confidence inspiring at 80 mph in the rain. In turns it felt, though not tippy, like it had a higher center of gravity. In contrast the Baja handled more like my wife's Mini Cooper than like a truck.

And after driving NOTHING (as a personal vehicle) but a Geo Tracker, a WJ and an XJ since 1994, I wanted a car. (ok, actually I haven't owned a "car" since 1988 and it was a 1970 Oldsmobile Rallye 350)). So truth of the matter, I WANTED something that handled more like a car.

SO, I bought a Baja Sport, 5-speed (to which the dealer is adding heated leather seats).

Don't get me wrong. My wife and I looked LONG and HARD at a Commander in the Jeep Showroom. We talked to the Sales Manager and said that we were going to buy a smaller runabout/grocery getter now, and no matter what our decision we'd likely be back in 3 years or so (when my wife is in residency) to get our 3-row seating, high tow capacity family mover. And by then DC damn-well better have a big diesel in the Commander, cause if so, we're buying one.

This was probably the HARDEST vehicle decision I've ever made, and I KNOW that undoubtedly I could have been happy with the Compass.

Heck, I told my wife that if she tired of her Mini Cooper S, we could trade it in on a Compass in A HEARTBEAT, but that I KNEW we'd made the right decision for me, for now.

Thanks all, I'll be checking back.

And ANYONE who thinks they want a Compass, well, I won't second guess their decision, I think it's a great vehicle.

Kev

Last edited by Kev M; 09-30-2006 at 07:06 PM..
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