The Jeep brand has been the shining star in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ lineup lately. Between an all-new Cherokee in 2014, the Renegade B-class crossover in 2016, and seemingly constant updates to the Grand Cherokee, as well as an all-new Wrangler just around the corner, the brand has not been lacking for attention and new product, with the exception of the Compass. Over the last few years, the Compass, along with its boxier sibling, the Patriot have earned the reputation of being the loss-leader models for subprime customers that just wanted “a Jeep.” They looked, felt, and drove dated, not surprising considering their basic platform is unchanged since 2007. After the 2015 introduction of the Renegade, many wondered if the Compass was destined for the dustbin of history. Jeep has answered that question emphatically in the negative with the introduction of the all-new 2017 Compass.
In a word (or three), pretty much everything. While the outgoing Compass made a nod to its big brother Grand Cherokee with its front end styling, the new model looks like a shrunken Grand Cherokee practically from bumper-to-bumper. And that’s a good thing. In terms of its platform, the Compass rides on the same “small wide 4x4” architecture as the Renegade, with a stretch in the wheelbase of 2.6 inches for 103.8 inches and an overall length of 173 inches, 6.4 inches longer than the Renegade. The sole engine for the Compass will be FCA’s widely used 2.4L TigerShark MultiAir I-4 engine, making 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque in this application. To further aid efficiency, the engine has auto stop-start. Jeep is claiming highway fuel economy of up to 30 mpg. Depending on model, the new Compass gets the choice of three transmissions. Front-drive models get a choice of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive models get either a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic, and for the first time on a Compass, there will be a Trailhawk model. Like the Renegade Trailhawk, the Compass Trailhawk features Jeep’s Active Drive Low system with a 20:1 crawl ratio.
Moving on Up
Although ostensibly the brand’s entry-level model, the new Compass offers generous available features, including up to an 8.4 inch Uconnect touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a power rear liftgate. Other premium features include LED taillights, optional forward collision and lane departure warnings, blind spot and rear cross path detection, and rearview camera. All 2017 Compass models come with seven airbags standard. Available trim levels will be Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. The U.S.-spec Compass will be built at Jeep’s plant in Toluca, Mexico.