Sales in 2004 in the compact SUV segment in the US were 297,000 units. Jeep foresees this being an area of substantial growth, predicting 568,000 sales by 2010. American indifference to mpg figures is disappearing rapidly – Jeep is drawing attention to the (relatively) good fuel economy of the Compass’ 172bhp 2.4 litre four cylinder petrol engine, which is made as part of the Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) between DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi and Hyundai.
Although 2006 will also see the UK launch of the seven-seat Jeep Commander, the Compass is a sign that Jeep is trying to equip itself against the current slump in full-size SUV sales in the US, whilst keeping an eye on the European market and its preference for smaller cars and diesel engines. To that end, a 2.0 litre diesel is promised.
Jeep says it is chasing educated professionals in their early 20s to early 40s, whose lifestyles fit with ‘fashionable and refined items’. Whether Jeep’s fit and finish will have improved sufficiently for the Compass to be one of these items remains to be seen, but we suspect it’s the price, size, decent (by American standards) fuel economy and styling of the Compass that will signal it as anything new rather than its abilities on or off road.