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The Compass receives an all-new 6-speed automatic transmission, but only on the front-drive and 4x4 Freedom Drive I models. More tweaks to the interior and exterior help somewhat, as do new safety features like standard front seat side airbags and an available rear backup camera.
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.
The 2015 Compass SUV, like its similar Patriot sibling, is a lower-cost way of gaining access to the Jeep family and sporting the rugged attitude the iconic brand embodies. While it's true that a Trail-Rated version can claim some off-road cred, the Compass is at heart more a front-wheel-drive-based hatchback than boulder-hopping Jeep Wrangler. Riding atop an aging platform, the Compass can claim only mediocre status when compared with fresher 5-passenger compact SUV crossovers such as the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape or even its new sibling, the Jeep Cherokee. Those competitors start beyond the Compass' sub-$20,000 base price, but they offer better refinement, newer technology and more satisfying on-road manners.