The first-generation Jeep Compass did not win over a lot of hearts in the enthusiast community. It was more soft-roader than off-roader. Most thought it was too soft and too generic to wear the Jeep nameplate. Likewise, the 2017 Jeep Compass Limited does not appear to be a Wrangler. Instead, it is a worthwhile smaller brother to the luxurious Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Luxurious? Why yes: The interior of this Jeep Compass featured black and Ski Grey-colored leather that even matched the colors and textures on the dashboard. Throughout the week of testing out the Compass, I found myself pleasantly surprised by a vehicle that I figured was just a softcore wagon-on-stilts not worthy of the Jeep nameplate. I was wrong about that – and my wife is now seriously considering the Compass after a few more years of her trustworthy Ford Escape.
The Compass is powered by the venerable and proven FCA 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine, connected to a nine-speed transmission. Mileage is supposed to come in at a reasonable 25 MPG overall, but I got closer to 22 MPG. I am sure that is because of the hot weather we were having at the time, meaning I was running the air conditioner hard.
To help save gas, there is an automatic engine start/stop that engages when you come to a traffic light. The system makes you aware that the 2.4 is not the smoothest of engines at a stoplight, but if you want to save a little gas, leave the system active. If you find it annoying, you can shut it off through a button near the shifter.
The Jeep did not come ready for serious off-road work, wearing 19” wheels with polished sides and black-colored interior pockets, but they were still pretty. On the dashboard, you do get Jeep’s Selec-Terrain switch that will adjust the 4×4 system to help negotiate exterior conditions, such as sand or snow. Or you can just leave it in Auto and have the computer figure it out for you.
One welcome item you don’t usually find in this price class is a power liftgate. If you forego the Limited options package, look for an aftermarket lift gate conversion kit for the vehicle, available at your local mobile electronics retailer soon.
The Compass did come with a massive, pumping audio system straight from the factory. I don’t know what Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are “enjoying” when tuning the system, but their Beats-branded audio did sound pretty good. The only thing the system was missing were crystal-clear highs and the absolute lowest register of the music. The system was tuned to enhance lower-midbass so “boomy” could be a good adjective to describe it. Therefore, a good set of tweeters in the A pillars and a subwoofer would be a welcome addition. Then the vehicle could be re-equalized without the need to pump up the midbass to compensate for the lack of true subbass.
The Uconnect 8.4” touchscreen infotainment system works well, as it does in other vehicles in the FCA fleet. When you throw the Compass into reverse, the ParkView rear backup camera does its job nicely and allows you to maneuver easily. Also on board is a ParkSense rear parking assistance system that uses ultrasound to protect the rear bumper.
My tester was reasonably loaded, but was missing a sunroof. Not a deal-breaker for me, but my wife would need to add that in. A panoramic sunroof is available from the factory that blacks out the entire roofline, but an aftermarket restyler could put one in for less money for those who like a uniform color scheme.
A set of running boards and a bull bar upfront would set this little SUV off.
Overall, it is the perfect package for those who love the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but can do without the extra interior room and price tag!