What were those Chrysler execs thinking? To anyone else, basing a Jeep on a front-wheel drive chassis is just plain absurd. But in 2007 it became a heinous and wimpy reality when the Compass was launched.
It was a bad idea on paper (why couldn't the production version look more like the concept?) and so it proved in the flesh; the compact crossover was ill-proportioned, the sheet metal was unintentionally comical and it looked cheap. What was the designer's remit? "Make it worse than the Aztec" perhaps? Who knows, but the salesmen and women must have had their work cut out trying to offload these: "Take it for a test drive... and never come back," might have been the patter. The fake rivets on fake aluminium trim told you all you needed to know about the interior. And, on the move, it suffered from incessant tyre roar and a bouncy suspension. Jeep sure hadn't traded off-road expertise for refinement. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder "world engine" mated to a CVT made 172bhp. It wasn't the worst thing about the Compass and made just about enough poke to get you going, but coming to a stop was another matter altogether. The brakes felt vague to say the least.
Ah, but it'd be an off-road warrior right? After all, the brand is famed for that 'Go Anywhere' capability. Erm, not the base FWD model -- a first for any Jeep. A bit of mud and some rocks weren't a problem. But 'real' off-roading? Forget about it.
In 2011, it got a revised suspension and interior and most importantly it was designed to resemble the Grand Cherokee which went some way in papering over the cracks.