By KBB.com Editors
Timing may not be everything, but it certainly counts for something. Consumers have shown a definite penchant for crossover utility vehicles recently, so Jeep's decision last year to field not one but two new crossovers 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...
The 2008 Jeep Compass is a Jeep for people who don't own one. A compass, that is. So we think you'll like the Compass if you're drawn to the Jeep brand but don't consider yourself a serious off-road enthusiast.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 the contemporary, car-like contours of the Compass in favor of something with a more conventional four-wheel-drive shape and more definite off-highway credentials.What's Significant About This Car?
All models receive standard air conditioning, chrome lock knobs and a tire pressure monitoring system. The CVT2 automatic transmission is fitted with AutoStick manual-shift mode and the Limited trim now offers navigation.Driving It Driving Impressions
One reason for the popularity of crossovers is that many people 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 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, when needed, can direct as much as 50 percent of engine torque to the rear wheels. 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 SUVs. The 2008 Jeep 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 not known for operating efficiency. Seen in this light, the compact Compass' fuel economy numbers look very respectable.