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2014 Jeep Compass Overview
Jeep's form-over-function compact ute enters what could be its last year with a renewed sense of direction, but overall changing as little as possible, apparently for the biggest impact. Unless these tweaks align sales figures closer to Jeep's goals, the Compass is expected to head straight off the production line for good, according to company executives, and that could explain such a limited investment. However, this short changes list for 2014 and the long list of complaints in previous years make this reviewer say a next-generation Compass is about as probable as getting through the Bermuda Triangle without a glitch. It could happen—but don't bet on it.
Restyled lightly from bumper to bumper in an attempt to keep it looking modern, the 2014 Jeep Compass nevertheless continues to feel unrefined, clunky and generally boorish if you ask first drivers. A new Hyundai-designed optional 6-speed automatic transmission joins the lineup to smooth things out for those who prefer that spectrum in either front-wheel drive (FWD) or weather-ready Freedom-Drive I all-wheel drive (AWD), while Freedom-Drive II finally makes its way to the Compass for the genuine trail-rated 4-wheel-drive (4WD) capability Jeep drivers have come to expect.
That said, Freedom-Drive II is offered only with the infamously slow and noisy CVT, which carries over completely untouched alongside the base Sport's default 5-speed manual. At least you might hear less of the CVT's moaning as a result of the new acoustic windshield Jeep claims cuts road noise to near-imperceptible levels, but otherwise changes amount to newly optional 18-inch wheels and a back-up camera.
That's not-so-happy news for anyone hoping Jeep would include a telescoping steering wheel, better fuel economy, ample power, more comfortable seats, improved visibility (especially for lane changes), more cargo space than 22 cubic feet by default and 66 cubes with the seats down or at least better than a 2,000-pound towing capacity with the biggest engine.
The Compass is based on a car chassis, but Jeep's apparent lack of practice providing a car-like ride shows glaringly in driver reviews. Although all 4 passengers get plenty of elbow room, Jeep seems to miss little details of creature comforts like seat angle, cubbies for in-cabin storage and just generally getting enough cushion for a human tush given such a distinctly SUV-like ride.
Sorry Jeep, but "crossover" doesn't just mean "from dirt to road." Drivers in this segment demand comfort, and they can get it in the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V or Subaru Forester with better fuel economy than the advertised Compass-best 23 mpg city/30 highway with a manual-equipped Sport—if it even lives up to those numbers in practice. Fetching more like the worst-advertised 21/27 across the entire lineup instead, the usual Sport, Latitude and Limited trims carry on using the familiar pair of 4-cylinder engines with the bigger, most-capable 2.4-liter standard in the top-shelf Limited and optional otherwise. Serious off-roaders will need its extra 20-some hp and lb-ft of torque over the 158-hp and 141 lb-ft 2-liter, netting 172 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque for the bigger but still sometimes-underpowered engine of the pair.
Feature content is pretty decent, with even heated mirrors standard for the base, and the Compass is technically the most capable SUV in its class—but that doesn't mean drivers want to sacrifice what they've come to expect from a midsize crossover, despite the impressive functionality offered by the 2014 Compass. If this sort of experience is right up your rock face, then this would be your last chance to get a fresh one.
by Patricia Mayo
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