2017 Jeep Compass Review


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2017 Jeep Compass Overview

Though it lacks the rugged persona of many of its fellow Jeep models, the 2017 Compass is expected to remain a low-cost 5-passenger crossover with at least some terrain-taming capabilities thanks to its available 4-wheel drive (4WD). That said, expect the Compass to disappear from the Jeep lineup after this year, as the company gears up its Brazil production facilities to put out a brand-new compact SUV that will replace both the Compass and the similarly sized and priced Patriot. This new model, tentatively labeled the Compatriot, was scheduled to debut at the 2016 New York International Auto Show in anticipation of availability for the 2017 model year. But that didn’t happen, so perhaps 2018 will see this new and improved mini ute appearing not only in auto shows, but in dealer showrooms as well.

Doubtless in expectation of the new Compatriot, there are no changes or upgrades announced for the 2017 Compass lineup, which currently consists of the Sport, Sport SE, Latitude, and High Altitude trims. The limited-production 75th Anniversary Edition, honoring Jeep’s 1941 introduction into the U.S. military as a go-anywhere general-purpose vehicle, is expected to be deleted for this year.

All Compass trims are delivered with standard front-wheel drive (FWD), with the Freedom Drive I and II 4WD systems optional. Freedom Drive I 4WD is essentially an all-wheel-drive setup that can be locked into 50/50 torque distribution to the front and rear wheels, enabling you to get out of deep snow and not-too-deep mud. The Freedom Drive II 4WD system offers a bit more capability by adding a locking off-road mode (locking rear differential) with grade-sensing descent control and a boosted crawl ratio that simulates low-range gearing. When not in the off-road LOCK mode, the Freedom Drive II 4WD feature allows the automatic redistribution of torque, with most going to the front wheels for maximum response and fuel efficiency in ordinary driving scenarios.

Standard grunt for the current Compass variations with the FWD configuration is a 158-hp 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine that’s managed by a 5-speed manual transmission on the Sport and Sport SE trims. Latitude and High Altitude trims with the I4 come with a significantly less fuel-efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT). The EPA estimates a Compass Sport with the stick-shift to get 23 mpg city/30 highway/26 combined, while CVT-equipped trims are estimated at 22/26/24.

Standard with 4WD and available with FWD is a 2.4-liter I4 that puts out 172 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque. The Sport and Sport SE still use the 5-speed manual with the up-powered I4, while a 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission is standard on the Latitude and High Altitude trims; but the Freedom Drive II option requires the CVT. Look for 23/29/25 from FWD trims toting the manual transmission, 21/28/23 out of FWD versions with the 6-speed automatic, 22/27/24 from iterations sporting Freedom Drive I and the stick shift, and 20/26/22 from variants boasting Freedom Drive I and the automatic. Those Compass trims toting the Freedom Drive II 4WD system with its accompanying CVT are estimated at 20/23/21.

Anyone considering a new Compass might want to go with the 2.4-liter I4 simply because it adds noticeable power on the highway without losing much fuel efficiency. But no matter the powerplant, performance and acceleration aren’t this Jeep's strong points, and the CVT remains noticeably clunky and quite loud.

Standard appearance features and creature comforts on lower Compass trims include alloy wheels, a roof rack, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free calling, and satellite radio. Moving up to the Latitude and the High Altitude iterations gets you upgraded cloth and vinyl upholstery, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a rear-view camera, and hard-drive music storage.

Some noteworthy options for the Compass include flip-down liftgate speakers, GPS navigation, all-terrain tires, and a Class II trailer-towing package with hitch and wiring harness that’ll let you tow up to 2,000 pounds.

Look for standard safety equipment aboard the 2017 Compass to include antilock brakes (ABS)--although FWD iterations offer a mediocre front-disc/rear-drum arrangement, while the 4WD-toting trims boast ABS disc brakes all the way around. Further standard safety features include mandated traction and stability control, front side-mounted airbags, and front and rear head curtain airbags. Front fog/driving lights come standard on the Latitude and High Altitude and remain optional on the Sport and Sport SE.

In government crash tests, the Compass earned only 3 out of 5 stars, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Compass’ seats and head restraints its highest rating of Good; the child-seat anchoring system (LATCH) received a second-best Acceptable rating for ease of use.

The Compass will never be confused with its peppier, more refined, and admittedly pricier rivals. Passenger room is barely adequate and cargo space is a mere 53.6 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Ride comfort, though decent enough, still lags well behind the competition, while the numb steering and hefty body roll in corners remain distinct downsides. All this ought to make the impending introduction of the new Compatriot a cause for celebration. But while the Compass is still around, it continues to compete with Jeep’s own Renegade and Cherokee, Honda’s CR-V, Ford’s Escape, and Mazda’s CX-5, all of which are worth their higher MSRP.


Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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