Jeep Compass Proves It's What's on the Outside That Counts

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A big change for 2011 is new front styling that takes inspiration from the larger Grand Cherokee, which sparked its own sales renaissance when it was redesigned a year earlier. We spoke with Jeep’s head of product marketing, Jim Morrison, who said the newfound success is a combination of a number of things, but the Grand Cherokee styling strongly resonates with Compass buyers. That attraction is mirrored in’s consumer reviews of the 2011 Compass:

  • “Many think it is a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.”
  • “I love the new front end, mimicking the Grand Cherokee.”
  • “The revised ’11 Jeep Grand Cherokee look is a huge improvement that garners many words of praise from countless others.”
  • “The styling puts it a new class of its own.”

Another big change for 2011 is the addition of a Trail Rated model, the brand’s off-road badge that marks special trim levels ready for off-road use. This certification has been missing from the Compass since its introduction and is now available with the Freedom Drive II Package, which includes a raised ride height, transmission with crawl ratio and underbody skid plates.
“Having a Trail Rated model made a big difference in dealer acceptance,” Morrison said.  “Completing the lineup with a ‘Trail Ratable’ Jeep is absolutely important to customers. Even if they don’t get the Trail Rated model, they get a sense of security.”
The Compass’ sales jump is interesting because other than those changes, its vitals remain unchanged. Gas mileage, engines and dimensions are the same as 2010. Plus, it’s more expensive than last year — now starting at $19,295 compared with 2010’s $15,365 — because of added standard equipment. That’s for a front-wheel-drive model with a manual transmission EPA-rated at 23/29 mpg city/highway, which is competitive in this segment.
The Compass and Patriot were once equals, but Jeep has slotted the 2011 Compass ahead of the Patriot, which is now the entry-level-priced model starting at $15,995. That makes the higher sales even more significant for Jeep because the company is making more money on each sale versus 2007 or 2010.

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Managing Editor Joe Bruzek’s 22 years of automotive experience doesn’t count the lifelong obsession that started as a kid admiring his dad’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette — and continues to this day. Joe’s been an automotive journalist with for 16 years, writing shopper-focused car reviews, news and research content. As Managing Editor, one of his favorite areas of focus is helping shoppers understand electric cars and how to determine whether going electric is right for them. In his free time, Joe maintains a love-hate relationship with his 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that he wishes would fix itself. LinkedIn: Email Joe Bruzek

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