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Discussion Starter #1
Hey All,

I know this isn't a comparison that gets asked often (I know having scoured forums looking for an answer!)

In short, I'm finding the Jeep explanation on their various 4x4 systems confusing. We're looking at either a new Compass Limited or Grand Cherokee Limited, leaning towards the Compass due to it's size.

However I'm worried that the Compass won't be capable enough offroad. In Jeeps explanation both 4wd systems use open Diffs, using ABS to reroute power to the right wheel. It seems like they're identical in mechanics, is there any difference I'm missing?

P.S. I'm aware of the different clearances (1" difference) and engine sizes, which I'm sure can make a big difference (but want to understand if there 4wd systems are the same.)

Thanks in advance.
 

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Jeep's explanations for their various 4x4 systems are confusing, because they don't explain how they work, they simply tell you it moves around torque where you need it when you need it.... ....its nothing more than marketing hype for those that don't understand how vehicles work....

Your missing the biggest factor in off road ability. Suspension Travel! How far the wheels can go up and down, this plus many other factors determine a vehicle off-road ability, but you can have perfect numbers for all the factors, but if the vehicle has no more suspension travel than a typical on-road car, then it will be dog off-road.....

Independent suspension doesn't have the articulation that live axles do, but because of so much regulation, media attention, liability and customer complaints has been forced to abandon live axles for the safer and less expensive to maintain independent suspension (read, no Death Wobble) on all their vehicles except for their off-road flagship the Wrangler.....

Compare the Suspension Travel between the two, I think you'll find the WK2 has much more and you'll see actual off-road experiences the WK2 does better....

The WK2 has nearly a foot of suspension travel in the rear, and just slightly less in the front.... ...it is an original platform designed to be a Jeep...
The current Compass is based on the Fiat500 platform, it was never intended to be a Jeep.... ....I'm sure Jeep increased its suspension travel from the original design that was suppose to be on-road, but there is only so much you can do in that regard.... .....I don't know the figures, but I doubt its as much as the WK2... ..If you do find the figures in your research, please post and let us know....

So even if you make an argument the Active Drive 2 is as good as the Quadra Track 2, I'm betting the greater suspension travel of the WK2 will win the day off-road....
 

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Please go drive them! I am shopping to replace my SUV, my wife has a WK2 Grand Cherokee so I am familiar with the fit and finish. I test drove a Compass and Cherokee last weekend. The Compass was a buzzy rental quality hard plastic 4 cylinder car. The Cherokee I drove had a much better fit/finish and less front wheel drive bias pulling. The Grand is top of the line, if you want smaller get the Cherokee over the Compass.
 

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And to add, if Off-Road ability is your top priority, then the Wrangler should be your choice. Also keep in mind, the dual live axle suspension of the wrangler means it's not a corvette that can be used to weave in and out of traffic or pass a truck at 80mph, and likely if you're not a gearhead keeping up with overkill maintenance of the vehicle you can expect alarming death wobble from the suspension a couple of years down the road and if you're the type that just brings it to the dealer, expect a multi-thousand repair bill....

That's why Jeep has gone to independent suspension with all vehicle other than the Wrangler...

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the Luxury Jeep that has off-road ability..... ...and even that is degraded from previous generations of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but its 4 wheel independent suspension, so for the neglectful and ignorant owner, the safety and maintenance costs are much improved....

The Jeep Compass is the poor man's Grand Cherokee, isn't if funny how it looks just like the Grand Cherokee, but it's a Fiat 500 with a different body and slightly improved 4 wheel independent suspension that is a little better off-road than an on-road only suspension of the Fiat 500.... ....the 4WD system might be as good or not as good as the WK2, but its suspension will result in far less off-road capability than the WK2....
 

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Please go drive them! I am shopping to replace my SUV, my wife has a WK2 Grand Cherokee so I am familiar with the fit and finish. I test drove a Compass and Cherokee last weekend. The Compass was a buzzy rental quality hard plastic 4 cylinder car. The Cherokee I drove had a much better fit/finish and less front wheel drive bias pulling. The Grand is top of the line, if you want smaller get the Cherokee over the Compass.
Good advice. The Compass and Cherokee are also price comparatively as well. We'll probably be replacing our GTI with a Cherokee 2.0 in a few years. Probably have to order a Limited with ADII as not many are equipped and it seems that's the only way to spec it with the tow package.
 

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Just so we don't confuse the O.P. the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are very, very different vehicles.....
CMIIW, the Renegade and Compass are based on the Fiat 500x platform.... ...the Compass stretched to be a little longer
The Cherokee is based on the Fiat Compact Car platform, but so is the Chrysler Pacifica and Alfa Giulietta (hardly compact cars)
There are slight differences in size, but the Renegade is not as small as it looks from a distance....
 

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No confusion. I based my post on size and pricing. For the money the Cherokee is a better bang for the buck than a compass. Until the 2.0t gets added to the Compass....
 

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You're right about the Compass not being capable! Maybe you wanna take a look at this video (speed up to 11:00 minutes) and this is on a hard surface. That would be embarrassing even these guys made a joke about it. Go with the GC Limited or maybe a Cherokee Trailhawk!

 

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Unless I'm mistaken, Active Drive II cannot be had on a compass anyways...
You can get active drive lo, but that is totally misleading, there is actually no lo-range, all it does is lock the transmission in 1st gear, although it does lock the front and rear axles... so, in reality it's 4hi with the trans locked in 1st gear.
That then means you are looking at the Cherokee, vs the Grand Cherokee...
In low range they are both locked front rear, and rely on brakes to transfer power side to side. The GC is way mor robust, but the 4wd is going to work the same... until one fails/breaks.
So, as mentioned above, it's going to come down to suspension travel, and, take a look at the suspension components, and you'll see the GC is certainly more heavy duty.
The real difference between ADII and QTII is going to be when operating in high range.
ADII is front drive, that, will react and send power to the rear when needed. If you watched the video above you see that while these fancy systems are reacting, applying brakes, and cutting engine rpm/power that momentum/flow is interrupted, or even stalled out.
QTII is full time AWD. Power split through the t-case is 48% front and 52% rear (normally), that in itself is a huge benefit, but on top of that the t-case is has a wet clutch that is electronically controlled and can send power front to rear without using the abs and cutting engine power.

My opinion, if odd roading is really important, and you want a Jeep wagon;
first choice, look at the '99-'04 GC, with quadra drive, solid axles for great flex, and, they actually rode very nice on road (gerotor limited slips front/rear and center, t-case, locked in Lo-range).
second choice would be '05-'10 GC with QDII, solid axle rear, independent front (electronically locking diff's front/rear and electronically controlled wet clutch t-case, locked in Lo-range).
- in '11 Jeep eliminated the front Ediff and went with an open unit relying on abs to send power from one side to the other... and also went 4wheel independent suspension.
Of course, as mentioned above, if off road is more important than on road, then, you're not going to top a Wrangler. The '13+ JKs are quite civilized, and the new JL's take it another step further.
Don't be afraid of the solid axles and the noted/reported inevitable death wobble... I put 260K miles on my solid axle XJ, never experienced DW, I had 160k miles on my solid axle WJ, never experience DW, I currently have 64k miles on my JK Rubi, again, no DW.
The DW is almost always a result of worn ball joints, and/or worn track bar/mount/attachment. Both of these are almost always a result of people adding lifts/bigger tires without addressing either item... and, this is usually uneducated consumers purchasing cheap lifts (marketed as a complete lift) that do not include all the bits to make them work "right".
One that note, my XJ was lifted with big tires, and my JK is lifted with big tires. To lift a rig "right" is not cheap... take the cheap road and you'll end up with a ill-handling, rough riding self-consuming nightmare.

If you are not loyal to Jeep, and you need to buy new rather than used, it's going to be hard to beat a 4Runner as an off road capable all around wagon... it's kind like a Wrangler Rubicon and a '05-'10 GC had a baby... it came out with body on frame, solid rear axle with a true locker, and just enough GC luxury/quietness to make it acceptable as an on road rig. Not as capable as a Wrangler, not as comfy as a GC... falls somewhere in the middle. biggest down fall compared to the Jeep wagons is no AWD for the 4runner...
 

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....Don't be afraid of the solid axles and the noted/reported inevitable death wobble... I put 260K miles on my solid axle XJ, never experienced DW, I had 160k miles on my solid axle WJ, never experience DW, I currently have 64k miles on my JK Rubi, again, no DW.
The DW is almost always a result of worn ball joints, and/or worn track bar/mount/attachment. Both of these are almost always a result of people adding lifts/bigger tires without addressing either item... and, this is usually uneducated consumers purchasing cheap lifts (marketed as a complete lift) that do not include all the bits to make them work "right".
One that note, my XJ was lifted with big tires, and my JK is lifted with big tires. To lift a rig "right" is not cheap... take the cheap road and you'll end up with a ill-handling, rough riding self-consuming nightmare....
I'd add Death Wobble has been blown out of proportion by the media, lawyers and consumer advocates.....
If you understand, maintain and repair your vehicle you will not get Death Wobble....
It is a Dynamic of Front Live Axles, front independent suspension is totally immune to it and you can get it if something if damaged or worn out in your front suspension....
As Mike mentioned, if you're lifting the vehicle you must do it right, especially if the vehicle has a front live axle....
No better evidence of the ignorance that surrounds Death Wobble is the number of Jeep owners that feel any vibration in their Jeep are posting on the internet they have Death Wobble, despite them having a Jeep with front independent suspension, and when questioned they admit their problem is a little bit of vibration they can feel in the steering wheel...
Independent suspension can have parts broken or worn out and not get death wobble, that is why the industry transitioned to front independent suspension decades earlier... ...but the articulation of live axles provide that suspension travel for good off-road ability, so jeep kept it years after the rest of the industry had dropped it...

If you need and want a standard on road car, and not pay a lot / spend a lot of time, maintaining and repairing it, you don't know a lot of vehicles and aren't interested in learning, then a Jeep Wrangler with its dual live axles are not a good choice....
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi All,

Thanks for the detailed information put simply!

After doing some more research, and watching some more videos I've decided that the 2 door wrangler is the way to go. Somehow I managed to get the missus to agree as well, even if it is a lot rougher around the edges.

Unfortunately no 4runner in Australia, and with size being a concern the LandCruiser is far too large.

RE death wobble, I'm not overly concerned but will make sure if I do get a lift I do it properly.

Thanks again guys, you managed to help me get through the market bull and really make an informed decision.
 

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Hey All,

I know this isn't a comparison that gets asked often (I know having scoured forums looking for an answer!)

In short, I'm finding the Jeep explanation on their various 4x4 systems confusing. We're looking at either a new Compass Limited or Grand Cherokee Limited, leaning towards the Compass due to it's size.

However I'm worried that the Compass won't be capable enough offroad. In Jeeps explanation both 4wd systems use open Diffs, using ABS to reroute power to the right wheel. It seems like they're identical in mechanics, is there any difference I'm missing?

P.S. I'm aware of the different clearances (1" difference) and engine sizes, which I'm sure can make a big difference (but want to understand if there 4wd systems are the same.)

Thanks in advance.

The compass has no low range, that coupled with the brake lock differentials is going to bog the vehicle down in somewhat challenging offroad situations. If you are actually looking at a Cherokee with Active Drive 2 (I have one and had a Cherokee Trailhawk as well) that system functions just like the Quadtra Trac 2 in a WK2, it has a low range and uses brake lock differentials to control individual wheel speed. Because of the low range and torque multiplication it doesn't get bogged down like a Compass would or any other vehicle without a low range. I'm well versed in Cherokee KL's so if you have any more questions I can help you out
 

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....RE death wobble, I'm not overly concerned but will make sure if I do get a lift I do it properly....
Death Wobble can happen to stock Wranglers, something has to be wrong with the suspension though.
If suspension parts or worn or damaged, wheels/tire badly out of balance and/or damaged, this can cause death wobble.... ...while independent suspension cars, the same wear or damage might not even be noticeable or only cause minor annoyances....

The Wrangler, because it suspension is so off road capable is going to be higher maintenance than your typical independent suspension on road only vehicle.....

The real complaints you hear about Death Wobble are from the idiot owners that needed and really wanted an on-road only SUV, that refuse to educate themselves on their off-road vehicle, neglected it and thought it was no different than a Toyota Camry, that they could ignore damage and wear and keep driving it into the ground..... ....then they get death wobble, take it to the Dealer that overcharges them for catching up on 10 years of maintenance and repair they have been ignoring, and they complain about the enormous bill from the Stealership....

If you need it or want it, the Off-Road Ability of the Wrangler is Superior, but it comes at a cost.... ...if you can change shocks and do suspension work yourself, you will save yourself a lot of money....

Don't be one of the folks that buy a Jeep because its not like all the other vehicles, but turn around and constantly complain why it isn't more like other vehicles.....
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Don't be one of the folks that buy a Jeep because its not like all the other vehicles, but turn around and constantly complain why it isn't more like other vehicles.....
Good advice. In honesty, the plan is to only keep the car for ~3-4 years until kids come along anyway. As it'll be a lease, I'll be forced to maintain it properly anyway. Thanks again for the help all.
 
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