2017 All New Jeep Compass

Review: 2017 Jeep Compass lives up to brand's heroic reputation
Mark Phelan , Detroit Free Press Auto Critic Published 8:19 p.m. ET June 14, 2017

The all-new ★★★★ 2017 Jeep Compass compact SUV is one part Jeep, one part superhero. Then again, given how most Jeep owners think of their vehicles, that may be redundant.

The Compass is new from the ground up for 2017. Jeep is still selling a few of the previous-generation SUVs as 2017s, but don't be fooled: the only thing the two vehicles have in common is the spelling of their name, and the one you want is the all-new Compass that looks like a baby Grand Cherokee and comes from Fiat Chrysler's assembly plant in Toluca, Mexico. The Compass is based on the same "compact wide" architecture that underpins the smaller Jeep Renegade.

Behind the Wheel

2017 Jeep Compass Limited 4x4
Four-wheel-drive, five-passenger compact SUV
Price as tested: $33,860 (excluding destination charge)
Rating: ★★★★ (Out of four stars)
Reasons to buy: Off-road ability; looks; controls; features
Shortcomings: Rough automatic engine restart; fuel economy: acceleration
It's 100% Jeep

The new Compass's superhero origin story has two beginnings: What it does, and what Fiat Chrysler needs it to do. The little SUV has more off-road capability than any of its competitors. It can ford streams, scale hills and dig through mud pits that would leave other small SUVs whimpering for a tow rope. As it should be with Jeep, the Compass is more likely to be the tow-er than the towed.

The Compass's other superhero task is leading Jeep sales around the world. It's already in production in four plants: Mexico, Brazil, China and India. Fiat Chrysler expects it to propel Jeep to new sales records and be a mainstay of the company product line and balance sheet.

How much?

Prices for the new Compass start at $20,995 for a front-wheel-drive model with a six-speed manual transmission. All Compasses come with a 180hp 2.4L four-cylinder engine

Four-wheel-drive models start at $24,495 with the manual transmission. A six-speed automatic transmission adds $1,500. The next major building block in the drivetrain is a smooth and efficient nine-speed automatic transmission that's a $1,500 option on higher trim levels. Chrysler had drivability issues with this transmission when it debuted in the midsize Jeep Cherokee a few years ago, but it works fine now. The top models - both available only with 4WD and the nine-speed - are the $28,595 Trailhawk, which has the most off-road ability, and $28,995 Limited, which has more creature comforts.

I tested a nicely equipped Compass Limited 4WD that had navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto collision alert, lane departure warning, blind spot and cross traffic alerts, Beats audio, power tailgate, Bluetooth compatibility and voice recognition. It stickered at $33,860. All prices exclude destination charges.

The Compass competes with compact SUVs like the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4 and VW Tiguan.

Outstanding features

The Compass offers a choice of two four-wheel-drive systems: Active Driven and Active Drive Low. The low feature includes a 20:1 crawl ratio for challenging off-road. At 173.9 inches, the Compass is shorter than its competition, a characteristic Jeep owners prize because it makes it easier to navigate between rocks and trees on rugged trails. Passenger and cargo space are a bit smaller than most competitors.

My test vehicle's two-tone seats were comfortable. The interior was trimmed in soft materials and two-tone leather seats. Jeep's controls for audio, navigation, smart phones and the like are among the auto industry's best. They combine dials and buttons, excellent voice recognition, a responsive touch screen, and now Apple Car Play and Android Auto for hands-free access to popular phone apps. I would have liked memory for the driver's settings in a compact vehicle costing more than $33,000, though.

The Compass's most noteworthy visual elements are Jeep's recognizable seven-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel openings, available LED head and taillights and an optional two-tone paint scheme for a contrasting black roof.

The Compass is quiet on the highway. Its suspension delivers a comfortable ride on road, along with plenty of ground clearance and capability off road.

Key features on vehicle tested

Standard equipment: Antilock brakes; stability control, front seat side air bags; curtain air bags; keyless entry; push button start; power locks, windows and mirrors; tire repair kit; 8.4-inch touch screen; voice recognition; Apple CarPlay; Android Auto; one-year subscription to Sirius satellite radio; Bluetooth compatible; heated steering wheel; tilt/telescoping steering column; heated front seats; power eight-way driver seat; 60/40 split folding rear seat; dual zone automatic climate control; auto dimming rear view mirror; automatic headlights; fog and cornering lights; two-tone paint.

Options: Brake assist; lane departure warning; front collision alert and automatic braking; LED taillights; HID headlights with LED signature lamps; rear parking assist; blind spot and cross traffic alert; navigation; power tailgate; Sirius travel services; Beats audio; compact spare tire; 19 inch black pocket aluminum wheels.

Contact Mark Phelan: mmphelan@freepress.com or 313-222-6731. Follow him on Twitter @mark_phelan.


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