A compass helps guide you to navigate difficult or challenging expanses or territories. Jeep hopes that euphemism is literal for its car of the same name as it begins manufacturing it in India very soon. The 2017 new generation Jeep Compass will be made in Pernambuco (Brazil), Guangzhou (China), Toluca (Mexico) and Ranjangaon (India) for each of the regions those sites represent. And while the Toluca plant will also cater to the USA and Canada, Ranjangaon will export the Jeep Compass to all right-hand-drive markets around the world. This tells us two things: that the Indian-made Compass (while differing in variants or powertrains from those made at other plants) will be top notch on quality and build; and that it will drive in with localization levels upwards of 75-80% on day one. The Compass is Jeep's big growth driver as it sees the compact SUV space as the fastest growing opportunity globally.
I have seen the car closely as it makes its North America debut here at the 2016 LA Auto Show. The car is being called the baby-Grand Cherokee and the photos will tell you why. That is not surprising since design cues and the overall identity is more akin to that flagship SUV's - unlike the Renegade's - which is also a compact vehicle but draws its image more from the Wrangler side of the Jeep parivaar! What is common to all Jeeps is the seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel arches - which are a design signature of the brand. The Compass marries that with a sleeker face, and the design exudes sophistication rather than ruggedness. The design development has been on since late 2013. The car is 4.4 metres long, making it bigger than the Renegade (4.2 metres). The car has a healthy 221mm ground clearance an approach angle of 30 degrees, and a departure angle of 34 degrees. That's pretty impressive too.
The new Compass' interior is also connected to Grand Cherokee's and so isn't necessarily young, fun or funky as in the Renegade. It does aim to pack in a fair amount of user friendly technology and connectivity options. The 7" information display will pack loads of car information, and also Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The car also has a capless fuel system, keyless entry with passive go, a power tailgate, and a glass sunroof. A generous 438 litre cargo bay (1251 litres with rear seats folded) is another USP.
The car will have more than 70 safety and security features - but some of those may not be offered on the Indian spec, due to limitations like use of radar frequency (for adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, etc).
The Compass comes with a rotary dial called Selec-Terrain for various driving surfaces. When in auto mode, the car automatically switches between FWD and 4WD as per the traction and torque requirements of each tyre. The other modes are snow, sand, mud (extreme Trailhawk variant has rock mode too - but that variant is definitely not going to be offered in India.) Globally there will be 17 powertrain combinations on offer across all markets! This is because specific regions have specific needs - like Brazil has an ethanol compatibility requirement, China needs low displacement and high fuel efficiency, etc. The engine portfolio is the 1.4 multi air turbo, 1.6 and 2.0 turbo diesel, 2.4 tigershark petrol, 2.0 tigershark flex fuel (ethanol), and transmissions include a 6-speed manual/auto, and a 9 speed auto. China will get a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox.
The Compass will begin trial production soon, and is expected to hit the market around March 2017. Expect Jeep to get aggressive with prices, and offer the Jeep in Tucson territory. Now that's enticing and will compel Skoda to take note for its upcoming Kodiaq (and even the VW Tiguan) to also stay relevant with smart pricing. So happy days for potential buyers then - those who love their SUVs anyway!