2013 Detroit Auto ShowJust the Facts:
- Jeep's 2014 Compass ditches its warbly continuously variable transmission in favor of a conventional six-speed automatic for all but one drivetrain combo.
- Fuel economy numbers are not available for 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter engines coupled with the new six-speed automatic.
- 2014 Jeep Patriot shares the new, Hyundai-manufactured automatic transmission but gets no styling or interior changes.
DETROIT — The Chrysler Group's Jeep unit continues to rack up respectable sales numbers with its car-based Compass and Patriot models (102,000-plus combined sales last year), so the 2014 models unveiled at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show justified the investment in a refresh.
With sales off 16 percent for 2012, the Compass gets the most attention in the form of a face-lift and mild interior upgrades, but both soft-roaders share the vital change: the switch from a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) to a conventional torque-converter automatic with six ratios.
From their launch in 2007, the Jatco-made CVT was a performance and refinement sore spot for the Compass and Patriot, and now Chrysler says the new six-speed automatic will improve acceleration "feel" and fuel economy — although numbers to verify the claims won't be available until nearer the 2014 models' launch in the second quarter.
The new six-speed PowerTech transmission is supplied by the U.S.-based transmission-manufacturing unit of the Hyundai Group and only recently became available in the 2013 Dodge Dart compact car. This existence of the Chrysler-Hyundai transmission linkup was kept low-key, but shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise: The U.S.-built 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines used by the Dart and the Compass/Patriot are the products of a now-dissolved engine-development joint venture among Chrysler, Hyundai and Mitsubishi. Thus the six-speed automatic transmissions Hyundai makes at the PowerTech facility in Georgia for its (and Kia's) own vehicles also bolt right up to the Dart and Compass.
The CVT isn't totally banished. Ironically, if you go for the ultimate Compass (or Patriot) with the Off-Road package — which dictates the Freedom Drive II four-wheel-drive system — the 2.4-liter's 172 horsepower continues to be channeled through the CVT. So take that to the Rubicon, bub.
Meanwhile, the 2014 Compass gets a revised grille with molded-in billet color for Latitude and Limited trims and a new headlight cluster design, including a blacked-out projector setup for the Limited, as well as some new exterior trim detailing and wheel choices.
Inside, the cars that once set the standard for lowball plastics get some new, upgraded trim choices, including saddle-colored leather for the Limited and a new sport-mesh cloth for the Latitude. And there are some softer touch points and better graphics, too. The Patriot gets none of this.
Edmunds says: For those who really want a car but happen to also really want a Jeep, Chrysler keeps the Compass and Patriot going; the new automatic is sure to make them more bearable when you pin the accelerator — which will be a regular occurrence, take our word for it