DETROIT -- By the end of the year, Jeep plans to field two new crossover vehicles. Both are built on the same platform. Both will target buyers in their 20s and 30s.
But the 2007 Jeep Patriot and Compass will not butt heads in showrooms, says Joe Eberhardt, the Chrysler group's executive vice president of global sales and marketing.
"The vehicles appeal to vastly different target audiences," Eberhardt said at a press briefing here this month.
Jeep plans to market both crossovers in the compact-SUV segment. The Jeeps share a platform with the Dodge Caliber.
The Patriot's design is rooted in Jeep's past. The Compass is more contemporary and likely will appeal more strongly to women, Eberhardt says.
The Patriot "is a traditional Jeep in design language and overall imagery," he says. "The Compass is a fresh, new interpretation of what a Jeep can be. It is a little more stylish, less boxy and less functional."
Both vehicles are powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 172 hp. A five-speed manual transaxle is standard.
Both offer front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions. The Patriot is available with an optional off-road package.
Consumer clinics helped persuade Chrysler to develop both Jeeps, Eberhardt says.
"Usually you take three or four design models to clinic and leave with one," he says. "In this case, the room was really split 50-50 in terms of (two) distinct target audiences.
"That actually was one of the reasons why we decided to do both of the vehicles. And that is an indication you can very easily market the two side by side."
The target audience for the Patriot consists of single or married professionals in their early 20s to early 40s who earn a median annual income of $65,000, Jeep says. Such buyers are "independent, rugged individuals who enjoy the outdoors" and respond to Jeep's off-road reputation, the company says.
Targeted Compass buyers are single or married professionals in their early 20s to early 40s who earn a median income of $60,000. These people are independent and family-oriented with an upscale, fashionable lifestyle, Jeep says.
Jeep expects sales in the compact-SUV segment to nearly double by 2010 to 568,000 vehicles. The company projects segment sales of 814,000 vehicles by 2016.
The Compass is scheduled to reach showrooms in the third quarter. It has a base sticker price of $15,985, including shipping.
The Patriot arrives in the fourth quarter. Jeep has not announced pricing.
You may e-mail Mary Connelly at [email protected]