For the last ten years, the Compass has been part of Jeep’s one-two punch combination in the compact crossover segment that has sold over a million units. The all-new Compass is set to replace the outgoing Compass and Jeep Patriot. To make this SUV competitive, Jeep classed up the cabin and included more standard features and ditched the CVT transmission. The result is a crossover that can best be described as a mini Grand Cherokee and that’s a high compliment!
The Compass is priced a few thousand below average for the class, it’s the second most affordable Jeep. The Patriot starts two thousand dollars cheaper but you get no air conditioning, no anti-lock brakes, and no touchscreen infotainment. All of which are standard in the Compass and would cost more in the Patriot. The Compass is equally capable off-road yet has a sleeker exterior than the mini truck looking Patriot. The materials inside the cabin are much nicer and the ride is more refined. We think the Compass would make an incredible first foray into Jeep life.
The lone power plant available in the Jeep Compass is a MultiAir 2.4 Liter inline 4 cylinder that makes 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. It’s an efficient engine with an EPA rating of 22 mpg city in both 4 wheel drive and front wheel drive models and 30 mpg highway in front wheel drive and 31 mpg in 4X4 models. There are three transmissions available: a six-speed automatic, a nine-speed automatic, and a six-speed manual. We’d recommend the last to get the most out of this engine, as both automatics are rather slow to shift. It’s worth noting that though the nine-speed automatic is the same as the one in the Cherokee, there aren’t reports of the issues found with the Cherokees. We suppose it’s better suited to the smaller Compass. Suspension and handling are bad for a crossover marketed as off-road capable.
We wouldn’t call the Compass sporty but its ride is pleasant and handles everyday driving needs with poise. Off-road this SUV holds its own, especially in TrailHawk form. This model features off-road tuned suspension, greater ground clearance, low range transfer case, and skid plates to protect vulnerable components. The Selec Terrain 4 Wheel Drive system, in 4X4 models, allows you to pick a mode based on your driving surface and is a boon to those living in areas with inclement weather. We’d recommend the Compass to those looking for a capable crossover that don’t need straight line performance.
The cabin of the Compass isn’t as good as many alternatives in the class but it's leagues better than the similar Jeep Patriot. There are soft-touch materials that replace the Patriot’s hard plastic panels, though you can find some in the Compass if you look hard enough. The seats are also much more supportive than the aforementioned Patriot. Visibility is lacking when compared to the Patriot’s boxy design. Oversized C pillars impinge rearward visibility. A backup camera is available to alleviate this issue. Unlike the Patriot, a Uconnect 3 touchscreen 5-inch display is standard. To get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you’ll have to upgrade to either the 7 inch or 8.4-inch Uconnect 4 system. The standard 6 speaker audio system is underwhelming but a Beats audio system is available for audiophiles. The Uconnect system is universally well-loved for its simplicity and functionality. Hands-free text messaging and calling are standard, as is Bluetooth and voice recognition. There are a lot fewer storage crevices than other Jeeps but the overall cargo capacity is pretty impressive for the SUV’s size. There is 59.8 cubic feet overall, more than the larger Cherokee and 27.2 behind the rear seats. The high load floor height can make loading heavy items difficult but that’s expected in an SUV with a higher ground clearance, designed for off-road use.
The Jeep Compass is a handsome little SUV that appears to be a scaled-down version of the Grand Cherokee. At the front, the trademark 7 port jeep grille is black with chrome trim betwixt Halogen headlamps or Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED signature if equipped. Below, there’s a large lower intake, flanked by fog lights and cornering lamps in some trims. The side profile is smooth, in contrast with many Jeep designs and features an oddly shaped C pillar that looks good but causes poor rearward visibility. The rear also reflects the Grand Cherokee design, with unique tail lamps that are either LED or incandescent. The Trailhawk trim receives additional body accents like a black hood decal, all black grille, skid plates, and red tow hooks that make the Compass appear every bit the mean off-roader it is. We think the Compass is a charming compact SUV with an enticing exterior that overshadows much of the competition.
The latest Compass has not been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has, and offers a 4-star overall safety rating, with a 3-star front crash test rating. The Compass comes standard with several advanced airbags and a litany of stability and traction control features, designed to keep you on the road. In addition, there are many advanced driver assistance features available in a package that costs less than $1,000, including LaneSense lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and forward collision warning with active braking. Though some competitors, like the RAV4, offer these features standard, they’re more affordable in the Jeep than many who don’t. We think this outweighs the relative low crash test rating from the NHTSA, as this technology reduces the likelihood you’ll be involved in an accident in the first place. On the whole, there are some safer choices in the segment but the Compass packs enough safety features for most drivers.
Both Consumer Reports and JD Power award the latest Jeep Compass with a 2 out of 5 predicted reliability rating. Being an all-new model for 2017, there isn’t a ton of information available in terms of long-term reliability. However, we conducted our usual research and will share the results with you. So far, there has been 2 safety recalls issued by the NHTSA. The first affects 4,705 Compass models with the 6-speed automatic transmission. The half shaft may disengage, causing the vehicle to roll if parked or loss of drive if in motion. FCA will replace the half shaft free of charge on affected models. The second recall affects 12,989 2017 Compass models. It’s for incorrect jump starting instructions in the accompanying user guide. Following the FCA’s instructions may cause serious injury, so it’s better to stick to a popular youtube video if you don’t know how to jumpstart a vehicle. There have only been 8 complaints filed with the NHTSA so far, which is good considering over 50,000 units have sold at the time of this writing. There are a few flustering complaints of a total electrical system failure while driving. We suspect these particular vehicles are probably “lemons” and don’t reflect the average reliability of the Jeep Compass. Further research from additional resources turned up few additional complaints, indicating this SUV is probably more reliable than most. Time will tell.
We don’t suspect too many potential Jeep buyers will cross shop Subaru but the Forester is quite the capable contender. Though it costs a few thousand more, it’s the only Compact SUV that comes standard with All Wheel Drive! Buying a 4 Wheel Drive Compass Sport is within a thousand dollars of the base Forester XT. You get the same sized engine also with a six-speed manual gearbox. You get a larger 6.2 inch Starlink touchscreen infotainment system with HD Radio and standard rearview camera. At every trim level, the Subaru packs more standard features than the Compass like Navigation and a panoramic sunroof, costly options on any Compass. Past $30,000 the gap only grows, as the Subaru packs a turbocharged engine that’s both more powerful and more efficient. Unfortunately, like the Compass, moving up the trim requires you to ditch the manual gearbox in favor of an automatic. The Subaru CVT is a much smoother transmission than either automatic in the Jeep and helps it achieve better fuel economy. In any form, the Subaru out accelerates and out handles the Compass.
Then there’s the big but... the Forester isn’t as capable off-road. It won’t be crawling up rock faces anytime soon, probably only advisable in the 30,000 dollar Compass TrailHawk, and it has lower ground clearance. That doesn’t mean the Subaru can’t go off-road.The brand has been building winning rally cars for decades and that same all-wheel drive and suspension technology is found in the Forester. The Forester excels on dirt roads and trails and is tough enough to handle more than most will throw at it. The Forester receives superior safety ratings and is among the safest compact SUVs you can buy. But, let’s face it, the Forester has a face for the radio. While many models in Subaru’s lineup strike a sensible balance between athletic and rugged, the Forester looks like a cross-dressing station wagon. If you can live with the looks, the Subaru is a smarter purchase but the Compass sure is charming and is not without its strengths.
The Compass Sport FWD starts at $20,995 and the 4X4 model has an MSRP of $22,495. It’s powered by a 2.4 Liter inline 4 cylinder MultiAir engine with an oil cooler. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed Aisin Automatic is available. An electric park brake, electric power steering system, 160 amp alternator, MacPherson front strut, and Chapman rear strut round out the mechanical features. Inside, there’s a front-passenger fold-forward seat, driver seat height adjuster, manual 6-way front seats, a rear 60 / 40 folding seat, cloth seating surfaces, air conditioning, front and rear 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, console with sliding armrest, electronic vehicle information center, front and rear floor mats, front seat back map pockets, gear shift indicator, media center electronics storage, outside temperature display, overhead console, power front windows with one touch feature, push-button start, rear armrest with cup holder, rear view mirror, remote keyless entry, silver shift knob, sliding sun visors with mirrors, speed control, speed sensitive power locks, steering wheel mounted audio controls, illuminated entry, interior lighting, 5 inch Uconnect 3 touchscreen display with audio jack input, Bluetooth streaming audio, integrated voice command, and remote second row USB port.
Outside, standard features include 16 x 6.5 inch styled Black Steel wheels with BSW All-Season tires, a Daytime Running Lamp system, Halogen Quad Headlamps, turn-off time delay, Solar Control Glass, variable intermittent windshield wipers, rear window defroster, Black Grille with Chrome Rings, body-color roof, incandescent tail lamps, and “Sport” badge. Standard safety features include advanced multistage front airbags, all speed traction control, anti-lock brakes, driver inflatable knee bolster airbag, electronic roll mitigation, engine immobilizer, hill start assist, rain brake support, ParkView rear back up camera, supplemental front seat-mounted side airbags, supplemental side-curtain front and rear airbags, and tire pressure monitoring display. The 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission costs $1,500. A Sport Appearance Group adds black side roof rails, deep tint sunscreen glass, and 16 x 6.5-inch silver painted aluminum wheels for $595. A $695 Cold Weather Group installs all-season floor mats, heated front seats, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. A $495 Technology Group equips a ParkSense rear park assist system and SiriusXM satellite radio.
The Latitude FWD starts from $24,295 and provides and engine start/stop function, 6-speed automatic transmission, a manual transmission is standard in 4X4, differential axle ratios, premium cloth/vinyl seating surfaces, leather-wrapped shift knob, remote keyless entry with proximity entry, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17 x 7 inch Silver painted aluminum wheels with BSW All-Season tires, automatic headlamps, fog and cornering lamps, deep tint sunscreen glass, body-color door handles, and “Latitude” badge. The 9-speed Aisin AutoStick automatic transmission costs $1,500. A $795 Cold Weather Group installs all-season floor mats, heated front seats, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Advanced Safety & Lighting Group provides Advanced Brake Assist, Automatic High Beam Headlamp Control, Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with LED signature, full speed forward collision warning with Active Braking, LaneSense lane departure warning, and LED tail lamps for $895, which is a pretty good value. The $795 Safety and Security Group equips Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, a ParkSense rear park assist system, rain sensitive intermittent windshield wipers, and a security alarm. The Navigation Group installs the 8.4 inch Uconnect 4 system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and GPS navigation for $995. The $1,195 Popular Equipment Group contributes a 115-volt power outlet, 4-way lumbar adjust, a/c auto temperature control, and a 7 inch cluster color driver information display.
The TrailHawk trim is only available in 4X4 for $28,596. This trim installs a 9-speed AutoStick automatic transmission, Selec-Terrain 4WD system, greater final drive ratio, off-road suspension, red interior stitching accents, 115-volt power outlet, all season floor mats, ambient LED interior lighting plus, illuminated front cup holders, 8.4 inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, 7 inch color cluster driver information display, Android Auto, SiriusXM, and Uconnect 4 software. Outside, 17 inch x 6.5 inch polished Black pocket aluminum wheels with on/off-road tires are standard, as are Red tow hooks, a Black Hood Decal, front suspension skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, transfer case skid plate, transmission skid plate, “Trail Rated” badge, and Hill Descent Control. A $745 Cold Weather Group installs windshield wiper de-icer, heated front seats, and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Safety and Security Group equips Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, a ParkSense rear park assist system, rain sensitive intermittent windshield wipers, and a security alarm for $895 on this trim. The Advanced Safety & Lighting Group provides Advanced Brake Assist, Automatic High Beam Headlamp Control, Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with LED signature, full speed forward collision warning with Active Braking, LaneSense lane departure warning, and LED tail lamps for $895. The $995 Navigation Group installs the 8.4-inch Uconnect 4 system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and GPS navigation. THe $1,295 Leather Interior Group furnishes 4-way power lumbar support, heated front seats with “TRAILHAWK” embroidered in Red, heated steering wheel, and leather seating surfaces with Red contrast stitching and perforated inserts. A Popular Equipment Group contributes an auto-dimming rear view mirror, remote start system, and an 8-way power driver’s seat with 4-way lumbar support for $645.
The Limited 4X4 starts at $28,995, equipped with a lower final drive ratio, AWD suspension, 4-way power lumbar adjust, heated front seats, leather trimmed seating with perforated inserts, power 8-way driver seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, carpet floor mats, heated steering wheel, 18 x 7 inch polished Gray pocket aluminum wheels with BSW All Season tires, remote start system, single exhaust with dual bright tip, and “Limited” badge. This is the only trim that includes a security alarm. The Advanced Safety & Lighting Group provides Advanced Brake Assist, Automatic High Beam Headlamp Control, Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with LED signature, full speed forward collision warning with Active Braking, LaneSense lane departure warning, and LED tail lamps for $895. The Safety and Security Group installs Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, a ParkSense rear park assist system, and rain sensitive intermittent windshield wipers for $745. The $895 Navigation group bestows GPS Navigation, HD Radio, and SiriusXM Traffic Plus.