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Jeep Compass new for 2011

Jeep is making noises about ride and handling improvements, claiming 'exceptional ride and handling performance' ...

The wagon - Jeep's first production attempt at an SUV - has been revealed wearing new clothes that overcome the bland appearance of its predecessor.

The Compass, pulled from the Australian market in 2009, will come back with sharper styling and an accent on fuel efficiency.

It is starting production this month in Illinois and is expected here in the second quarter of 2011.

Jeep has confirmed that US-bound Compass models will offer a 115kW/190Nm 2-litre or 125kW/220Nm 2.4-litre petrol mated to either a five-speed manual or CVT automatic.

Jeep Australia last month says it is keen to get the new Compass, however is unsure about a diesel option. It previously used the 2-litre Volkswagen turbo-diesel engine.

However, last month word from Europe indicated Jeep's SUVs - Patriot and Compass - would start using the Mercedes-Benz 122kW/320Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel that has a claimed average of 6.6 litres/100km.

The new Compass may offer Australians a two-wheel drive option to appeal to the price and fuel-conscious buyers. The next system up is the on-demand Freedom Drive I that has a lockable centre coupling for low-traction surfaces.

US markets will get a more competent "Trail Rated" model equipped with the Freedom Drive II off-road package. This uses a second-generation CVT system with a low-range ratio that engages when the off-road mode is activated.

Jeep recommend this package "for moderate off-road situations that include steep grades, occasional wheel lift and rock or log climbing".

Australia missed out on the off-road package in the first generation Compass and may again be overlooked. The package also has 17-inch all-terrain tyres and a full-size spare, underbody protection, tow hooks and a suspension lift that raises the wagon by 25mm.

The 2011 Compass has an upgraded cabin with soft-touch finishes and higher-grade materials. It has a Uconnect media centre with iPod interface, optional satellite navigation, electric sunroof, a premium audio system with nine Boston Acoustic speakers, illuminated cup holders, speakers in the rear hatch and fold-flat rear seats.

Standard is 17-inch alloys but 18-inch alloy or chrome-finished wheels are on the upmarket Limited version and on the option list.

Jeep is making noises about ride and handling improvements, claiming "exceptional ride and handling performance in all weather conditions" which is the result of upgraded steering and suspension systems.

The new Compass includes standard electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, six airbags and hill-start assist. Jeep's president and CEO, Mike Manley, says the Compass uses design cues of the latest Grand Cherokee.

"Combined with new interior appointments, and refinements to the suspension and steering systems, Jeep Compass provides consumers the ultimate combination of styling, capability, fuel economy, efficiency, safety and value in the important compact-SUV segment," he says.