The all-new Jeep Compass comes with a choice of one manual and two automatic gearboxes and all are equipped with a 2.4-liter 180hp engine which has to be worked hard for decent progress to be made. Both the exterior and interior are much improved and you can choose from a high-value entry level front-wheel drive Sport trim right up to a seriously capable off-roader in Trailhawk specification. Enhanced driver safety systems are reserved for higher trim levels although standard specification is good throughout.
New for 2017 is the second generation Compass. A far cry from its predecessor in looks and quality, the new model is also more closely aligned with its Jeep heritage, offering true off-road ability. The handsome new looks are also an improvement so let’s take a look and see if the rest of the package matches expectations.
The interior is a big step up from the first generation Compass. Gone are most of the hard plastics, replaced with soft-touch materials, the dashboard design is also thoroughly modern with either a 5 or 8.5-inch touch screen display sitting front and center.
Space for both the driver and passengers is good and the cargo area is a decent size further aided by rear seats that can be folded flat. The Compass sits high off the ground allowing for a commanding driving position and the minor controls and switchgear have a solid feel to them.
The new Compass responds to driver inputs in a much more car-like manner than before, it feels solid and when driven within its limits this compact crossover provides unflustered progress. Bump absorption is good too, miles better than the old car and at least as good as its rivals. Top trim levels mean off-road focused tires which means less on-road grip and more cabin noise.
The only engine option is a 2.4-liter inline-4, with outputs of 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque it will not be troubling the class leaders away from the lights. The added complexity of all that rugged off-road running gear also makes the Compass one of the heaviest in its class.
The 6-speed manual feels the most responsive although there is also a choice of either 6-speed or 9-speed automatic transmissions, neither fare as well against the clock but some shoppers may prefer the more laid-back nature of these transmissions. Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is available depending on trim levels.
Four trim options are available, the base Sport trim kicks things off with a 6-inch touch screen, Bluetooth connectivity and basic 6-speaker sound system fitted as standard. Options include rear park assist and Sirius radio. The 16-inch steel wheels can also be upgraded to silver painted aluminum wheels and there are optional cold weather and interior protection packages to choose from. If you are willing to forego all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission this trim offers possibly the best value proposition in the range. It is worth noting too that enhanced driver safety features are reserved for the higher trim levels.
Latitude trim adds larger aluminum wheels as standard, upholstery is now an upgraded cloth simulated leather combo, and the steering wheel gets a leather wrapping. Optional packs include upgraded navigation, safety and security which includes blind spot and cross path detection and a trailer tow package.
Limited trim is the least limited when it comes to standard specifications, an 8.5-inch Uconnect touchscreen, power driver seat and full leather upholstery are some of the more notable features. The same optional packages apply as in the Latitude.
Trailhawk trim is for the serious off-road enthusiast and features off-road spec tires, a bespoke Selec-Terrain system and a matte-black hood. Underbody shields and a raised suspension complete the changes. The rest of its specification fits in slightly below the Limited trim level.
You can choose between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive on both the Sport and Latitude trims. The manual transmission is available on all Sport trims and on all-wheel drive Latitude models only. A 6-speed auto is optional only on the front-wheel drive Sport while a 9-speed auto is optional on the all-wheel drive Latitude and standard on the top two trims.
The second generation Jeep Compass offers a combination of off-road ability, practicality and value that elevates it above its predecessor and makes it the default choice for those who need a serious compact SUV that can tackle rough terrain with ease.