A COMPETENT VEHICLE FOR THE OUTDOOR LIFESTYLE SET
Hi, Bob Aldons, The Car Guy with a very recent press release from my colleagues at Autoweek. The second generation Jeep Compass has just been released in the USA – Graham Kozak of Autoweek has an opinion on the car. And whilst it’s improved, it’s still not up to off-road scratch
From an Australian viewpoint, Jeep Compass hasn’t exactly set the world on fire – but then again I suppose it’s fair to say that no Jeep model has either. Even with the 5-year warranty, prospective SUV buyers haven’t regained the trust they had in the brand in 2011. Pity.
Specifications and prices are quoted for the American model.
Huge improvements this time around, but there’s little for the hardcore off-roader to chew on — even in Trailhawk guise
FEBRUARY 5, 2019
Highlights: This is a Compass Trailhawk, so in addition to the all-important Trailhawk badge and bright red recovery hooks up front, this model gets 8.5 inches of ground clearance, 19 inches of water fording depth, skid plates and the Trailhawk-exclusive Active Drive Low four-wheel-drive system, which gets a lower crawl ratio (hence the name) for low-speed off-road maneuvers and an additional “rock” mode for the Select-Terrain system. Jeep says it can tow up to 2,000 pounds — enough for a light trailer and a pair of dirtbikes, a small boat or, if you want to max it out, an ultralight pop-up camper.
Our Opinion: With the passage of time, it’s clear that the first-generation Jeep Compass (built from 2006-2016) was something of a forward-looking vehicle, one that anticipated the high-riding crossover craze we’re in the middle of. Of course, it was also a thoroughly mediocre vehicle that was produced for about 10 years too long, and I’m not about to write an apology for it.
The follow-up, which rolled out last year, is blessedly improved on all fronts. Jeep saw something of value in the old Compass’ external styling because some elements (like the profile) have been broadly carried over and remixed. It’s a far more coherent-looking vehicle, and the Trailhawk trim’s lift kit, knobby tires and contrasting hood paint succeed at giving it some extra attitude.
More importantly, the interior been improved dramatically visually, functionally and from a materials quality perspective. This vehicle is equipped with a number of features, like the $595 power liftgate, that I could take or leave; they add up to the $35,110 sticker seen here, which could be trimmed a bit without making the vehicle feel de-contented.
The U.S.-market Compass is offered with just one engine, the 180-hp, 175-lb-ft 2.4-liter inline-four, but (depending on trim) your choice of front- or all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual, six-speed auto or nine-speed auto. I didn’t find the transmission to be a dog this time around; perhaps tuning has been changed since our initial drive. I was actually surprised by this thing’s moderate zoot off the line. When we first reviewed the Compass, we noted that the brakes on our early production vehicles were notably grabby, but suggested that this might change. Well, I can report to you that it hasn’t. Tread lightly on the brake pedal here. Maybe all of the inputs have been boosted to make it feel like it’s got a bit more edge?
Jeep is getting into the subscription service game in a small-scale experiment, Bloomberg reports, in addition to launching a three-month trial program with peer-to-peer car sharing. The automaker is …
But then again, it’s hard for me to imagine any serious off-roader would ever consider the Compass or anything like it. It’s a vehicle to get you to the trailhead and maybe down the two-track, but not one that’s realistically going to spend too much time off the beaten path. Despite it gaining nearly an inch in ride height over other Compass trims, which translates to 8.5 inches of ground clearance and 19-inch water fording depth, the Trailhawk seems to target the outdoor lifestyle set — the hikers, campers, trail riders and kayakers of the world. This one’s for the maniacs who ride up the rocks at Moab on mountain bikes rather than 4x4s.
Thus, while the Trailhawks’ lower crawl ratio and the addition of a “rock” mode for the Select-Terrain system are nice to have, I don’t know often they’re going to be used by a typical Compass buyer. Meanwhile, towing capacity is limited at 2,000 pounds. You’re not going to be lugging a big toy-hauler around with one of these. In practice, all this makes the Compass feels a lot like a Subaru, at least conceptually.
The cynical part of me wonders exactly what makes it a Jeep aside from the styling cues and logos. Even the trademark seven-slot grille is nearly superfluous here (I mean that literally; most of it is solid, textured black plastic, with only a small area open for airflow). If this were sold as a Dodge with identical capabilities, would it still sell as well as it does? I doubt it; the power of the Jeep brand is mind-blowing.
Fortunately, and unlike the Compass that preceded this one, this is a sound vehicle — one that’s good in its own right, and that is good-looking in the more aggressive Trailhawk trim. It works as a ruggedized compact crossover, even if it’s hard to imagine a Wrangler-driving purist giving it a second glance. Then again, if I needed a vehicle in this class, I’d likely choose this over anything that was a Jeep (even as a FSJ owner). I can’t really explain it…but like I said, the Jeep brand is a powerful thing.
–Graham Kozak, features editor
Options: Dual pane sunroof ($1,395); Navigation group with Uconnect nav and 8.4-inch display, one year Sirius radio, Travel Link, Traffic Plus, GPS navigation ($1,095); Safety and Security Group with parking sensors, blind spot and cross traffic detection, security alarm, rain-sensitive wipers ($795); Cold Weather Group with heated front seats, heated steering wheel, windshield de-icer ($695); Popular Equipment Group with power drivers seat, four-way power lumbar adjust, remote start, auto-dimming rearview mirror ($645); power liftgate ($595)
I’ve spent the last forty-one years immersed in the automotive industry from salesman to the owner of a 7 brand multi-franchise dealership. I know cars.
If you’re hunting around for a great price on your next new car, you should call me, the auto expert, from Car Business.
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People Also Ask
Car Buyers always seem to need answers on a vast number of topics about their cars. There are a few questions that I seem to be asked regularly, so to save you a phone call, make sure you check out our People Also Ask questions below. If your answer is not listed, I’m more than happy for you to call. My number is 0418 748 498 or you can email it to [email protected] Free advice – no obligation – how can you go wrong?
Q: Why Should I deal with a Car Broker rather than just going to a dealer?
A: It’s the goal and actually the job of a car salesperson to make as much money for his dealership as he possibly can. And that applies to the car, finance (finance and insurance), and aftermarket sales (tint, paint, interior, rust).
It’s the role of a car broker or car buyer’s agent to buy the same car at the lowest possible price. Your broker will get prices from at least 5 dealers or more, get independent finance and insurance quotes and then only recommend the car protection you actually need rather than the products the dealer wants to sell you. Dealers, on average, make around $3800 on a car sale. An astute broker will get that margin down to around $1800, saving you about $2000 on your vehicle purchase
Q: Should I take Finance and Insurance through a car dealer?
A: Generally no. An average car dealer relies on the car buyer to be exhausted after the trauma and stress of actually buying a car. They depend on their finance manager to make an average profit of $1100 for EVERY car buyer coming into their dealership. The income per finance contract rests around $3000 per contract. In recent times, the ACCC (Australian Consumer and Competition Commission) has looked closely at the way that finance companies and their dealers sell to consumers. Recently, on a voluntary basis, finance companies have reduced the flex rate (the maximum rate allowed to be charged over the base rate for particular consumers) to 4%, down from 8%.
There is still need to be wary of some of the non-standard lenders. For those in our community who have fallen on hard times, have bad credit or are on Centrelink benefits, some lenders are still allowed to charge exorbitant interest rates, upwards of 25%.
Q: It’s a fact that dealers, forced by their manufacturers charge very high prices for genuine spare parts. Recently I needed to purchase a set of head bolts for a 2008 Alfa Romeo Sedan. Price quoted by my local dealer was $294. I picked them up from the UK for $115 including freight to Australia. I expect to receive them in the same time as the local dealer would take to get them from Melbourne.
A: It’s not the dealer’s fault on this occasion. Typically a dealer makes around 20% profit on genuine spare parts sales. It’s the manufacturer/Importer who is charged prices higher than dealers in overseas markets can buy at. Shop around. To determine whether you can buy the part you need, you’ll first need the part number. Get your VIN, ring the local dealer and ask for the part number. They may oblige and if they do, just search on the net through Google. You’ll be amazed. There’ll even be local suppliers who are able to provide a genuine part for you at around overseas prices. For Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Isuzu Ute and Volkswagen, visit my site www.genuinespares.com.au
Q: If you have a larger vehicle, with a lot of glass area, the chances are that you’ll want or need window tinting. At the point of sale, dealers will want to charge you up to $795 to tint the windows of your car. Again, you’ll want to avoid the stress and pressure of negotiating anymore and just sign where you’re asked.
A: Window tinting can be obtained for around $400 through Car Business. My company has arrangements with local tint shops to do just that price – $400. Don’t be overcharged. $400 is the price to pay for the average vehicle
Q: How do I pick the right car for my needs?
A: Typically, car buyers will have a general idea of what sort of car they want to buy. However, in a market like ours with nearly 60 brands and thousands of models, historical ownership doesn’t have to be maintained. Find an honest buyer’s agent and have a chat to them about your requirements. My company, Car Business, offers this service to our customers without any obligation. You can fill out the lifestyle form, by clicking and a representative of Car Business will contact you to discuss your needs. We use the R J Pound Comparative new Vehicle Price Guide to assist buyers to understand the alternatives. It may not be the one you’re thinking about right now.
Q: I need some accessories for my new car, but I’m not sure that I’m getting the best price from the dealer
A: Accessories are another area that dealers make a lot of their profit. Apart from the window tinting, paint and interior protection and rust proofing, a typical salesperson will run through a long list of accessories. Even the manufacturer has copious amounts of accessories in their new car brochure.
Don’t feel obligated to buy any accessories you want through the dealer. I suggest to a lot of my customers to phone the spare parts department of the same dealer and ask for a quote on the accessories they want. You might be surprised at a price. The other way is to search on the internet. There are lots of retailers who buy the same parts you want from overseas suppliers (even ones that supply the manufacturer directly) and will offer them at a substantially better price. All you have to do it fit them up, but generally it’s a pretty easy thing to do for the home handyman
Q: If I sell my car privately will I get a better price?
A: It is sometimes possible to achieve a higher price with a private sale however this reduces significantly if your vehicle is not presented correctly and is no longer under warranty. The private buyer today is looking to receive the same benefits they would by purchasing from a Dealer and expect huge reductions in price if they believe they are disadvantaged. Add to this the cost of preparing your vehicle to the same standards as Motor Dealers. Look at such items as Safety Certificates, Service, Tyres, Windscreen, Chips and Scratches, Detailing, and Advertising along with the need to be accessible and available at all times including weekends when prospective buyers will want to inspect your vehicle. It may not be the wise choice to have people you do not know, coming to your home.
Once the costs and time involved are assessed, most people choose to trade their present vehicle or to use a professional Car Buying Service to ensure they get a good price without the expense or hassle.
Q: Do you allow and/or recommend RACQ Inspections on second-hand cars?
A: Yes, we welcome the RACQ Inspection Process in our business and recognize the need for such an independent examination. Once completed we will discuss the report with you and facilitate any repairs that are deemed necessary. You can arrange for the RACQ to visit our business. We can arrange for them to inspect your choice of vehicle and have them send the report directly to you if you prefer.
Q: Why are dealers so expensive for service in comparison to other service centres?
A: Dealers service and maintain vehicles as set out by the manufacturer’s recommendations to protect your new car warranty. They will generally be willing to match other service providers as long as they are comparing “like for like”.
Your individual circumstances can be taken into account regarding changing some filters and coolants etc. They also have factory trained technicians and have the support of specialized equipment and of course the proper factory support. There are many other reasons such as resale value, and when it comes to trade-in price, car retailers always look at maintained service books and especially if a dealer has serviced them.
On the other hand, if you’re carefully managing your money, we can arrange a log book service at one of our preferred providers.
Do I need to return my vehicle to the selling dealer for service?
The simple answer is NO!
Whilst dealers may suggest or insist that your new car is brought back to their service department, the reality is:
- You can take your car to any of the brand’s service centres for routine or warranty service. Brand X warranty is covered by the manufacturer, not by the dealer. So if there’s a more convenient location to have your car serviced, take it there.
- Dealers may suggest that you have to have your car serviced at the franchised dealer to maintain your warranty. Again that’s a falsehood. You can have your car serviced by any qualified mechanic or technician, provided that they follow the service guidelines for your vehicle as specified by the manufacturer
- They should use as a minimum the oil grade specified by the manufacturer and also parts that are of the same quality standard. You shouldn’t use inferior parts. Whilst I would suggest using the manufacturer’s parts, there are similarly high-quality non-genuine parts available on the market. Things like brake pads, brake rotors, air and oil filters, spark plugs and the like are often cheaper and as good quality as those supplied but the manufacturer
How often should I check my Tyre Pressures?
Personally, I check my tyre pressures monthly. I have a tyre gauge purchased from Repco that I rely on to check the pressures in my tyres. Arguably, it’s probably better to check your tyre pressures every second time that you fill your fuel tank. High volume petrol centres have good quality air pumps and it only takes a few minutes to do that after you’ve got your fill.
What should I do if my car breaks down at night?
Firstly, I’m suggesting that you be in a roadside assistance program such as provided by the RACQ.
If you’ve purchased a new car, you’ll have coverage under your new car warranty. Kia Motors Australia provides 7 years of roadside assistance in coordination with their warranty. Hyundai and Ford have a 5-year program.
Mitsubishi only provides roadside assistance after the first year provided you’re having your services done at one of their dealerships.
If you run out of roadside assistance, best sign up with RACQ or your state motoring body. (NRMA, RACV, etc.) It’s far from sensible to break down on a dark or unit road and then have to do repairs yourself. This is particularly for younger drivers.
A phone call from inside a locked car is preferable to having to find a phone booth or a ‘friendly neighbour’ to call for help
If you’d like to discuss anything to do with purchase, trade-in, private sale, service, warranty issues or just have a conversation about the motor industry in Australia, please give me a call on 0418 748 498 or email to [email protected]