The 2012 Jeep Compass in the Garage

2012 Jeep Compass Last month, I took an at-bat for the home team and made my first American car purchase - a 2012 Jeep Compass! My Midwest-born wife approves. I LOVE this car. It looks great, it sounds great, it rides great. It's a badass little Jeep. It looks a lot like a mini Grand Cherokee, which is why we call it the Mini Grand or the "Fivehundro."

I won't get into all the details.The Detroit NewsΒ does a good job.

I've had a long affair with Mazda. Amanda and I (well, more Amanda) have enjoyed our 2007 Mazda 3 -- my third Mazda purchase. It's got all the specs, and it's a great commuter. However, my Mazdas have lacked the coveted 4WD or AWD. We've also been a single-car household to save some money for the past year, and I have been feeling ready for a little independence from public transit.

Our options for cars were immediately restricted by my desire for 4WD or AWD. It's barely mandatory in the Pacific NW with our moderate climate, but the occasional snow and any inkling of going into the Cascades makes it hard to be without. I've gladly put myself at the mercy of the Chaffees these past years to get up to Crystal Mountain, but we've added wives to our flock and simply need more tires on the road to get people up the hill.

Of course, I can't avoid Scott's opinion about cars when considering buying one. He's obsessed with finding car deals and isn't afraid to fly out of state to get a car at the price he wants (having flight benefits through marriage helps achieve this purchasing tactic). He was hellbent on recommending the Jeep Compass. Jeep redesigned the Compass in 2011, I believe, and made huge strides to make the Compass look less like its previous self -- with rounded and goofy front-end -- and more like the stalwart Grand Cherokee.

Scott, Amanda and I all went out to test-drive the Compass on a rainy Sunday at a dealership in Renton that had good prices. I was considering an automatic and Scott was looking at a manual to replace his wife's Xterra. We both test-drove the same black, manual Jeep Compass and loved it. The ride was fun and the car just looked badass in black. I liked the ride and control of the manual. Because we were just planning to test drive, we walked away after the fun.

Scott and I both took the online shopping seriously when we got back to the Chaffee Estate. Our wives also participated: Amanda found a deal at the Tacoma dealership and Courtney cursed at the idea of she and I driving the same vehicle. The Tacoma deal ended up becoming unavailable, but we went out to the Tacoma dealership later in the week so that I could test drive another automatic, which wasn't nearly as fun. We also realized then that the Compass we test drove at Renton was the only one available in the country that was the combination of black, manual and 4WD. You could find other combinations of color, transmission and drive, but you couldn't find that exact combo anywhere.

I called Scott later in the week to see if he was really still interested in the Compass we drove and he said he wasn't in a rush, so I went back to the Renton dealer to make an offer. This proved more difficult than I expected, but I walked away with the car after two days of negotiating. You would have thought I was facilitating a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine at Martha's Vineyard, but we got it done. I glad because I have a new, part-time commute up to Mt. Rainier with the new job.

Picture me rollin' in the Jeep Compass!