DETROIT -- The Jeep Compass, once derided as a "pretend" Jeep, has become one of the hottest vehicles in the Chrysler Group lineup, setting a new monthly sales record in October.
A year ago last month, Jeep sold 778 Compasses. In October of this year, U.S. Compass sales soared to 5,179 units and helped pace Chrysler Group to a 27 percent sales increase. It was the automaker's fifth consecutive month of 20 percent-plus sales gains.
Excluding the new Fiat brand, which wasn't on sale a year ago, all Chrysler Group brands contributed: The Chrysler brand rose 28 percent; Dodge and Jeep were both up 25 percent; and Ram truck gained 21 percent.
"For October, our retail sales increased 40 percent year-over-year with sales of the Chrysler 300 more than doubling and Jeep Compass sales increasing fivefold," said Reid Bigland, head of the automaker's U.S. sales and CEO of Dodge brand, in a statement.
The Compass is one of 16 vehicles to get a significant facelift following the 2009 U.S.-steered rescue of Chrysler under Italy's Fiat S.p.A. The Compass was restyled to look like a smaller version of the Grand Cherokee.
Those redesigned vehicles are now driving the automaker's sales growth.
The Chrysler 200 is now the top-selling Chrysler-brand model following its 2011 redesign and renaming. The car is outselling its predecessor, the Sebring, by a five-to-one margin.
Its sibling sedan, the Dodge Avenger, shot up 145 percent. The Journey crossover, which got a new interior in 2011, jumped 36 percent.
Sales of the Ram full-size pickup increased 21 percent. The Ram pickup remains Chrysler Group's top seller.
On the downside, sales of Chrysler's two minivans dropped again in a slow market. The Chrysler Town & Country was off 25 percent and the Dodge Grand Caravan fell 13 percent.
Fiat brand sales dropped from the previous month to 1,965 units, the third consecutive month-to-month decline. Fiat has sold 15,826 500s since the brand's reintroduction to the U.S. market after a quarter-century absence. Fiat will introduce sporty Abarth version at the Los Angeles auto show this month.
Fiat has been hampered by a slower-than-expected rollout of its dealer network, which now stands at 123 dealerships. Fiat plans to have 150 dealerships open by year end.