Jeep Compass, Patriot getting freshened interiors

Click image for a gallery of the 2007 Jeep Compass

While everyone's waiting for Chrysler to fix the interiors of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger, Cerberus has made a surprise decision to spruce up the Jeep side of the house first. Both the Compass and Patriot are getting freshened interiors, and not a moment too soon. While we haven't driven the Compass (which would benefit from a flamethrower to the exterior as well), we've spent some time with the Patriot, which shares its sibling's exceptionally unexceptional cabin appointments. Hard, cheap-looking, plastic abounds, and attention to detail is uneven at best. For example, there's all kinds of flash left on trim elements like the individual slats in the HVAC vents, and apparently, Chrysler expects the front seat occupants to supply their own padding for the granite-hard armrests. Overall, it's a resounding disappointment inside, which is unfortunate because the Patriot's boxy exterior style is solid, handsome, traditional Jeep. While it wasn't the most refined vehicle, it made for a solid little 4WD commuter (especially with the manual transmission). Almost everyone who saw it was immediately taken with its outward appearance. Open the door, however, and you get the impression that the passenger seat is coated in truth serum, and not just the bland-looking YES Essentials fabric that's standard in the Patriot Sport. Discussions frequently went something like this:

Passenger: "What the... It's like a total economy car inside."
Me: 'Well, that's because it's based on an economy car."
Passenger: "Ugh. Not good. I don't know if I could look at this every day."

According to Automotive News, to address the matter, Chrysler worked with a consultant to develop new Euro-style textures for the interior and also softened the armrests in the doors. AN reports that Chrysler wunder-designer Ralph Gilles admits the automaker "did some soul-searching" over the ComPatriot interiors...and he's talking about the time prior to the vehicles' respective launches. Doing it properly the first time around, of course, would eliminate the need for such introspection in the first place. Chrysler's domestic competition has upped the ante in terms of interior looks and refinement, and the Pentastar is in the unenviable position of having to play catch-up, even with its own essentially brand-new product. The new interior appointments arrive in the Fall for the Jeeps, with the Dodge Caliber getting a similar treatment shortly thereafter.

[Source: Automotive News -- sub. req'd.]

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