The 2017 Jeep Compass
It’s rare that any vehicle undergoes only minor updates while in production for more than a decade, but Jeep’s aged Compass has finally be replaced by a completely redesigned 2017 version that’s now on sale.
The new arrival is part of Jeep’s push to extend Compass sales into more than 100 countries, with models destined for North America originating from Toluca, Mexico.
While supplies last, the original Dodge Caliber-based Compass (as well as the similar, soon-to-retire Jeep Patriot) will be sold alongside the new model. That might cause some confusion with buyers since both old and new Compasses are designated as 2017 models, even though they’re significantly different.
From most angles, the new Compass, which slots between the smaller Renegade and the mid-size Cherokee, resembles a smaller-scale version of the full-size Grand Cherokee, which is a pretty decent vehicle to be patterned after. The Compass is also similarly sized to the original, except for a nearly 13-centimetre increase in width for the new model that contributes to roughly a 10-per-cent gain in stowage space, whether behind to split-folding rear seat or when it’s folded flat. Also notable is a 180-kilogram reduction in base weight for the new Jeep.
The Compass uses a modified Renegade platform, which is more rigid than before. The idea is to improve ride and drivability and also make the Compass more agile when tackling roughor off-road conditions.
The interior is definitely a cut or two above the outgoing Compass, both in styling and in the quality of materials used for the dashboard, console, door panels and seat coverings.
The base engine is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder that’s also found in both Renegade and Cherokee. It makes 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque.
Front-wheel-drive Compasses can be had with six-speed manual transmissions, or optional six-speed automatics, while a nine-speed automatic is part of Jeep’s Active Drive 4x4 option.
The two-wheel-drive Compass achieves the best fuel-economy rating of the bunch at 10.4 l/100 km in the city and 7.3 on the highway, but you’ll suffer only a minor penalty (city or highway) when adding four-wheel-drive.
The Compass Trailhawk (what off-road aficionados consider as the only “true” Jeep trim level) adds Active Drive Low. Both it and the standard Active Drive are full-time systems that can direct 100 per cent of the available power to any one wheel, as required. However the Trailhawk’s unit adds a 20:1 crawl ratio.
Both systems include Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system that allows drivers to pick from Auto, Snow, Sand or Mud settings. Active Drive Low also provides a Rock mode plus hill-descent controls to prevent a runaway situation when traveling down a steep grade.
At a base price of $26,800, including destination fees (about $3,200 more than a base Renegade), the Sport trim is fitted with mostly basic stuff, while the North comes with fog lights, roof rails, slightly fancier trim and upgrades the wheels to alloy from steel.
The top-end Limited adds standard four-wheel-drive plus dual-zone air conditioning, perforated leather seat covers (heated in front), power-adjustable driver’s seat, 8.5-inch touchscreen and 18-inch wheels. Even though the Limited is a premium model, it cost’s extra for a sunroof, navigation, power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers and a suite of active-safety technology.
The Trailhawk is “Trail Rated,” which means it’s the toughest in the line. It’s equipped with most of the Limited’s goodies plus unique (and ditch- and boulder-clearing) front and rear body work, front and rear tow hooks, aggressive off-road tires and undercarriage-protecting skid plates for the fuel tank, transmission, transfer case and front suspension. There’s also an extra 2.5 centimetres of ground clearance.
The obvious improvements in styling and content put the new Compass light years ahead of the outgoing model. It’s no longer just a Jeep-ized Caliber, a holdover from the “old” Chrysler days, but a stylish and capable machine that’s actually more worthy of the Jeep name.