2017 Jeep Compass Review


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2017 Jeep Compass Overview

Though the Jeep Compass has thus far lacked the rugged persona of many of its fellow Jeep models, the new 2017 Compass is expected to offer better off-road performance—all while remaining Jeep’s low-cost option. New for 2017 is the Trailhawk trim, promising terrain-taming capabilities thanks to its increased ground clearance and approach, breakover, and departure angles—not to mention the Jeep Active Drive Low 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system. A word of caution, however: Jeep has also built plenty of previous-generation Compasses for the 2017 model year, so be sure to double-check when shopping. If you’re interested in the first-generation model, check out our full test-drive review for the 2016 Compass.

The new Compass initially debuted at the 2016 LA Auto Show and should arrive at dealers in the spring of 2017. Touted as a truly global vehicle, the Compass is manufactured in Brazil, China, Mexico, and India and is expected to replace the Jeep Patriot. A redesigned exterior combines the front-end styling of the Cherokee with the rear end of a Grand Cherokee, all packed into a comfortably reduced size. Available gloss black A-pillars extend along the roofline for an inverse “floating roof” appearance, and an open-air dual-pane sunroof evokes the Jeep Wrangler’s airiness in a more practical design.

The 2017 Compass is built on Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) Small Wide Long-Wheelbase 4x4 platform rather than the Chrysler PM/MK platform of the previous generation. This new architecture is expected to deliver best-in-class off-road capability without sacrificing on-road performance.

All U.S.-market Compasses receive FCA’s 2.4-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder engine. This naturally aspirated powerplant features multiport fuel injection, makes 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, and is expected to return up to 30 mpg in highway driving. To reach those numbers, however, the buyer will need to opt for the 9-speed automatic transmission and 4WD, although a 6-speed manual is also available. Front-wheel-drive (FWD) variants receive either the stick shift or a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The Compass’ full-time Jeep Active Drive 4x4 system is capable of sending 100% of the engine’s available power to any wheel when necessary, and Jeep Active Drive Low adds a 20:1 crawl ratio. Both systems also benefit from Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system, which is designed to adapt the crossover’s performance to the driving environment, whether that be snow, sand, or mud. You can also leave the Selec-Terrain system in Auto, which will allow the car to determine what is best. The Trailhawk trim, which is equipped with Jeep Active Drive Low, includes an additional Rock mode that will engage the drivetrain’s lower ratios. The Trailhawk also adds skid plates, unique front and rear fascias designed to optimize approach and departure angles, and Jeep’s signature red tow hooks. And should you be concerned about stopping all 180 of the engine’s horses, rest easy knowing that Jeep has upgraded the Compass’ brake system to disks, both front and back.

Inside the Compass, the instrument cluster holds a 3.5- or 7-inch LED information display, and drivers can access the fourth generation of FCA’s lauded Uconnect infotainment system via a 5-, 7-, or 8.4-inch touchscreen. Uconnect is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the touchscreens boast pinch-to-zoom functionality. The Compass’ steering wheel is also fitted with audio, voice, and speed controls. One noteworthy departing feature for the Compass, however, is the flip-down liftgate speakers available on the previous generation. Towing capacity for the all-new 2017 Compass is expected to remain 2,000 pounds, although no information on a factory tow package has been announced.

Jeep also promises to pack the 2017 Compass with more than 70 available safety features, from antilock brakes (ABS) to a reversing camera. Advanced features include forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The past Compass earned only 3 out of 5 stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), so we expect Jeep to improve upon those scores, although a formal rating has not yet been issued by either NHTSA or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Total cargo space has been increased from 53.6 to 59.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, and space tops out at 27.2 cubic feet with all seats up. That makes the Compass larger than the Subaru Crosstrek, but still not overly capacious. Shoppers looking for a bit more room can check out the Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V, although both of those options are classed—and priced—above the Compass.


When it comes to cars, Matt's curiosity extends well beyond the powertrain. From Ford to Porsche, he's as interested in the history behind the machine as he is the view behind the wheel. Matt creates written and video content exclusively for CarGurus.

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