Jeep held out a surprising amount of time before gingerly bringing its first soft-roader to market. Here was a brand built on uncompromising reliability and dauntless prowess in the rough stuff but it knew only too well where the money was. Staying out of the burgeoning market for compact road-going 4x4 vehicles would have been a difficult one to justify at the shareholders meeting so Jeep clamped its gnashers around the bullet and unveiled the Compass.
By no means was this a case of a manufacturer selling its heritage up the river in its entirety. The Compass is clearly a 4x4 vehicle and with Jeep's "Freedom-Drive I" 4x4 system, it's a far more capable proposition in the mud than many of its contemporaries. It's just that the Compass probably went a little further down the path to being a road car than the Jeep purists would have liked, especially in the US where it was available with (gasp!) front-wheel drive.