Los Angeles — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV says the 2017 Jeep Compass will be the new benchmark for compact SUVs worldwide.
The all-new Compass will make its North American debut on Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, following a private global reveal in September in Brazil, where it first went into production at the automaker’s plant in Pernambuco.
“Built around the world for customers everywhere, Jeep Compass raises the bar in the compact-SUV segment,” said global Jeep boss Mike Manley.
The Compass, which replaces the current Compass and Patriot in Jeep’s lineup, is expected to begin shipping to U.S. dealers in the middle of the first quarter, with a critical mass of vehicles in showrooms beginning in the second quarter.
Pricing was not announced. The starting price of the 2016 Compass ranged from about $20,000 for the Sport model to more than $25,000 for the High Altitude edition.
The vehicle will be manufactured in Brazil, China, Mexico and India for more than 100 countries. Brazil began production in August, followed by China earlier this month. Mexico production is expected to begin at the end of the year, followed by India by March. Models for the United States will be assembled in Mexico.
Fiat Chrysler moved production of the Compass from its Belvidere Assembly in Illinois as part of an elaborate production shakeup that focuses on producing high-profit pickups and SUVs in the United States. The Illinois plant will produce the Jeep Cherokee, which is moving from Toledo to make room for production of the next-generation Jeep Wrangler.
The new front end of the Compass takes design cues from the brand’s top-of-the-line Grand Cherokee, including similar LED daytime lights, headlights and wide, rectangular seven-slot grille. The slots are surrounded by a black background that’s similar to the smaller Jeep Renegade as well as some Grand Cherokee models.
A sleek, black roof that stretches to the rear window appears to be a new design cue. It looks similar to competitors such as the Range Rover Evoque.
The Compass will be powered globally by 17 powertrain options, including a 2.4-liter Tigershark that produces 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque for North America. Transmission options for the U.S. include: class-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission for 4x4 models; six-speed automatic transmission for 4x2 models; and six-speed manual transmission for 4x2 and 4x4 models.
“First and foremost, the all-new Compass is an authentic Jeep SUV delivering class-leading off-road capability,” said Art Anderson, vehicle line executive for FCA US LLC. “Our new 2017 Jeep Compass also delivers a world-class on-road driving experience in all weather conditions for a true ‘no compromise’ compact SUV.”
The vehicle features engine stop-start. It is expected to achieve up to 30 miles per gallon, according to the company.
On the interior, the vehicle’s trapezoidal center-stack bezel, which is becoming a Jeep trademark, will be offered with 5-, 7- or 8.4-inch touchscreen displays.
The driver’s cockpit, or gauge cluster, features a 3.5- or 7-inch LED driver information display (DID) instrument cluster. The available full-color 7-inch DID is the largest in the segment.
Vehicles equipped with the 7- or 8.4-inch touchscreens also feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which essentially mirror functions of a smartphone to the vehicle’s screen.
For 2017, the Compass will be available in four trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Limited and off-road Trailhawk.
Even though the Compass and Patriot hadn’t been fully redesigned in a decade, combined sales of the two have topped 100,000 every year since 2011 — and grown each year since 2012 — according to automotive shopping and research website Edmunds.com.
The two Jeep compact SUVs have represented about 7 percent of the compact SUV segment for the past five years. Their share remains far below domestic rivals Chevrolet and Ford as well as the segment-leading Honda CR-V.
Jeep likely looks to grow its position in the marketplace with the new Compass, despite new competitors in recent years.
“Jeep is obviously right to reset in the segment,” Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Akshay Anand recently told The Detroit News. “I think the Cherokee and Renegade have obviously done awesome for them. This is going to slot in between them.”
Anand said the 2017 Compass has a far more modern design than its predecessors. He added it should do well, as public preference continues to move away from passenger cars to small utility vehicles.
“Jeep is obviously one of the brands when it comes to SUVs,” he said. “The reality is, I think this will do well just because it’s a new Jeep.”