Getting its bearings: Redesigned Jeep Compass looks to the future

A compass is an instrument that helps keep your bearings as well as make sure you don’t lose your way. So, it seems Jeep has named their compact SUV appropriately. After a full redesign this model year, the Jeep Compass has found its way after being lost in the wilderness for a bit of time. And yes, that’s a play on words as the Compass is a crossover that earns its Jeep badging by being quite comfortable in the wilderness and off the road.

For the 2017 model year, the Compass receives a complete makeover. However, inexplicably, Jeep also produced some 2017 versions of the old Compass, so if car shopping, be sure to look for the redesigned.

Now that it’s found its way, the Compass is a legitimate contender in the small crossover segment and will appeal to those who want a little personality and a little ruggedness in their small SUV.

On looks, the Compass fits nicely into the Jeep family which has gone through quite a metamorphosis with updated, modern looks. But it still has Jeep distinction, too. Within this segment there’s either very little personality or too much, and the Compass meets in the middle with just-right styling and just enough of a personality. It’s certainly leaps and bounds better in all regards than its predecessor.

The Compass has FCA’s 2.4-liter Multiair 4-cylinder engine. This is an underwhelming engine that makes only 180 horsepower. Off the line, it feels even slower than that and on the highway, it can feel outmatched. But as an urban dweller or suburban vehicle, it does fine. The 9-speed transmission is great with the upshifting, but has some stutter on the downshifts. Front-wheel drive is standard, but my tester had four-wheel drive; it is a Jeep, after all, and needs to have 4x4.

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Inside, the Compass’s improvements are most notable. A bland, boring, sub-par interior has been replaced by a modern, quality, spacious cabin. The back seat is spacious and the front seat offers supportive, comfortable seats. Cloth seats are standard and expected from a Jeep that likes to get dirty. My tester came with leather upholstery including a leather steering wheel and a leather gear shift. Additionally, the touch points are much improved. This is the nicest interior of any Compass Jeep has ever offered.

A 3.5-inch touchscreen is standard for the Compass’s infotainment system. That’s a barely functional size, so it’s good that my tester had the upgraded 8.4-inch touchscreen. FCA’s Uconnect system is intuitive to use and looks great on this larger screen. It does tend to dominate the center stack area, but is certainly much better than the smaller standard one.

There are four trims for the Compass including Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk. Jeep always does a great job naming their trims. My tester was the Latitude which brings 17-inch wheels, the leather surfaces and sensor-based driver assistance systems. The Compass Latitude has a starting price of $24,295. With options and packages, my tester had a final MSRP of $31,705.

The Compass has an EPA rating of 22 mpg/city and 30 mpg/highway. In a week’s worth of standard driving I averaged 25 mpg. That’s a slight improvement in fuel economy over last year’s model.

Jeep continues to do things their own way and take the path less traveled. Of course, it’s easier to take that path when you have such rugged vehicles. This year, the Compass gets Jeep back on course as it moves off the beaten path. Its bearings are right, and it’s a clear path ahead for the Compass

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