By KBB.com Editors
Timing may not be everything, but it's certainly something. Consumers have shown a definite penchant for crossover vehicles recently so Jeep's decision to field not one but two new crossovers for 2007 may prove exceptionally wise. Of the two, the Jeep Compass is designed for buyers who seek on-road comfort and convenience with a dash of Jeep off-road heritage, while the Jeep Patriot, though based on the same vehicle platform, is a more traditional, off-road-capable Jeep with styling to match.You'll Like This Car If...
Compass is a Jeep for people who don't own one. A compass, that is. So we think you'll like the Compass if your drawn to the Jeep brand but don't consider yourself a serious off-roader.You May Not Like This Car If...
If your taste runs towards the SUV side of the sport utility-station wagon continuum, you may want to pass on Compass' contemporary, car-like contours in favor of something with a more conventional, 4x4 shape and more definite off-highway credentials.What's New for 2007
The least traditional of Jeeps launched at the most fortuitous of times. Usually, the arrival of a car-like, street-oriented, front-wheel-drive vehicle like Compass from Jeep would have off-road purists scratching their heads, especially since it's accompanied by a more traditional, truck-like model (Patriot) that will sell for about the same price.Driving It Driving Impressions
One reason for the popularity of crossovers is that many are discovering they can have the added traction of all-wheel drive wrapped in the comfort and roadability of a car, not a truck. Though it's offered in both front-and all-wheel drive models, Jeep expects many buyers to opt for all-wheel drive, especially in snow belt states. Jeep's Freedom Drive I(tm) is a full-time, fully automatic all-wheel drive system, requiring no input from the driver. On dry pavement, it channels up to 100 percent of available engine power through the front wheels, but, it is continuously variable in response to driving conditions and can direct as much as 50 percent of engine torque to the rear and front wheels, when needed. Drivers can also engage a 4WD lock mode, for better grip in deep snow, sand or mud.Favorite Features
Crossover styling runs the gamut from spruced-up wagons to shrunken SUV's. The Compass design hits a nice note, closer to the former than the latter. The body tells you that this is a car-based, street-oriented vehicle (not a truck-based off-roader). And there are just enough styling features (front end, trapezoidal wheel flares) to identify it as a Jeep.
As a breed, SUV's are known to drink more than a frat house on a Friday night. Seen in this light, the compact Compass' fuel economy numbers look very respectable.