First Look: The Ass-Kicking New Jeep Compass

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All new for 2017, the Jeep Compass is now fully aligned, both in performance and design, with its big brothers, the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. From the seven-slot grille that is the hallmark of Jeep design to the shoulder line that kicks up toward the back of the semi-floating roof, it’s the most cohesive offering from Jeep in years.

Like the points of a compass, there are four versions of the 2017 Compass: Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, and the range-topping Limited. For off-road adventure seekers, the Trailhawk configuration will suit the bill. It offers an exclusive 4×4 system dubbed "Active Drive Low" in addition to red tow hooks, underbody skid plates, chunkier tires, a low range with a 20-to-1 crawl ratio, an increased ride height and better approach, breakover and departure angles (30, 24, and 34 degrees, respectively), and 8.5-inch Uconnect touchscreen. As with Active Drive models, it comes paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

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There's only one available engine this go around: a 2.4-liter “Tigershark” Inline-4 that puts out 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. Those who opt for front-wheel-drive can mate it to a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Move to a 4×4 drivetrain, and the automatic transmission gains three additional gears for a total of nine. The manual is offered on the 4×4, as well.

The Compass’s 103.8-inch wheelbase is closer to the Renegade’s, but its 101-cubic-foot passenger volume falls just shy of the Cherokee’s 103 cubes. There are two more cubic feet of cargo space (27 total) behind the Compass’s second-row seats than in the larger Cherokee. Fold down the Compass’ second row, and its cargo-hauling capability stretches to 5 cubic feet for a total of 60 cubic feet.

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Inside, Jeep maintains the functional, yet handsome, interior packaging found in the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. Standard equipment is generous, even on the base Sport, which comes with power-adjustable and heated door mirrors, power windows, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls, push-button ignition, and a 5.0-inch Uconnect LCD touchscreen with Bluetooth. The Latitude adds 17-inch aluminum wheels, body-color door mirrors and door handles, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, black roof rails, automatic headlights, ambient interior lighting, and a passive-entry key. The top-line Limited tops out with leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and steering wheel, remote engine starting, chrome grille accents, and 18-inch wheels. Larger screen units come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, not to mention a seven-inch digital dash.

There are a number of active and passive security systems to choose from, too. Jeep offers the expected safety tech like collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a backup camera, lane-departure warning, and automated emergency braking on three of the four trim levels. On a side note: Jeep will continue to offer the outgoing Compass for the remainder of the 2017 model year. It will now be known as the Compass X. 

Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but it’s expected to fall between the $18,990 and $24,590 base prices of the Renegade and the Cherokee. It will be available in early 2017.

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