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.

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