KBB Editors' Overview
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.
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.
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.
The contemporary interior of the Compass seats four to five adults. Six-footers fit easily up front, though they'll find legroom snug in back, especially if like-size folks are in front of them. All controls and switchgear are straightforward in design and easy to reach. The seats are cloth in Sport and leather-trimmed in Limited. Plenty of on-board storage spots are available to stow water bottles, CD's and what-have-you. Split rear seatbacks (standard on Limited, optional on Sport) and a fold-flat front seat increase hauling options. Cargo capacity ranges from 22.7-53.6 cubic feet, depending upon how the seats are configured. Drivers must deal with rear quarter blind spots created by the wide rear pillars.
Jeep describes its designs as falling into two categories: Jeep Classic and Jeep Modern. Count Compass in the latter category, compact division. The Compass is close kin to the Dodge Caliber, and the two crossovers share the same basic shape, with a laid-back windshield and a curving roofline. Jeep's variation on the theme starts with a familiar face. The seven-slot grille, clamshell hood and round headlamps immediately mark the Compass as part of the Jeep clan. A high, beveled beltline and trapezoidal wheel openings add an updated take on traditional Jeep design. The wedge-shaped rear pillar, asymmetrical tail lamps and beefy bumper tie the package together in back. When you get right down to it, the Compass looks exactly like what it is a cross between a station wagon and a sport utility vehicle, made by Jeep.
Notable Standard Equipment
Compass is offered in Sport and Limited models. Front-wheel drive is standard in both trim levels, and all-wheel drive is available optionally in both. Notable among Compass Sport's standard features are a handful of safety-related items, including side-curtain airbags, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Brake Traction Control and Electronic Roll Mitigation. Limited models add leather-trimmed, heated front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel fitted with redundant controls for the sound system. Eighteen-inch aluminum wheels (in place of 17's) and a tire-pressure-monitoring system are also standard on Limited.
Notable Optional Equipment
Cousin to Dodge's Caliber, the Compass shares many of the interesting interior options available in Caliber. Among them: a flip-up holster built in the center armrest for your MP3 player or cell phone and a cargo bay ceiling light in back that doubles as a pop-out flashlight. Curiously, the over-the-glove-box cooler option offered on Caliber is not offered on Compass. The available Boston Acoustics(r) premium sound system (nine speakers, 458 watts) includes a pair of speakers mounted on the lift gate that do dual duty. Open the hatch and you can swing the speakers down to provide the soundtrack to your next tailgate party.
Under the Hood
Compass is offered with one engine and a choice of two transmissions. The 2.4-liter inline four cylinder engine can be had with either a five-speed manual transmission or optional Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT2) automatic. The 172-horsepower engine works well in the Compass platform and returns above-average gas mileage. The engine is a little loud at full throttle and, as with any small displacement motor, passing takes planning. Steep grades require downshifting with the manual to maintain speed. Driving the optional CVT2 takes some getting used to because it doesn't have the distinct shift points that our ears are conditioned to hearing.
2.4-liter in-line 4
172 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
165 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/29 (4WD w/5-speed manual), 23/26 (4WD w/CVT2)
The MSRP for the Jeep Compass Sport with front-wheel drive starts at about $16,000, while a four-by-four version is nearly $2,000 more. To see what consumers are typically paying for Jeep Compass models today we suggest you click on the Fair Purchase Price link. In the ever-expanding compact crossover category, the Compass faces a significant amount of competition, some of it from within its own family. The Jeep Patriot has a lower starting price, while the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage are two similar crossovers at about the same price. The upper end of Compass' price range coincides with the entry level of three established crossovers: the Subaru Forrester, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. In terms of resale value, we don't expect the Compass to do quite as well as the leaders in the segment, but it should retain its value better than the Korean-brand offerings.