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First Drive: 2017 Jeep Compass

All-new crossover lives up to Jeep's off-road reputation.

by on Feb.27, 2017

The 2017 Jeep Compass replaces the previous generation model as well as the Patriot.

Any vehicle carrying the Jeep nameplate is expected to maintain the brand’s reputation for off-road capability even when chances are it is going to spend most of life on city or suburban streets, local highways and maybe on an occasional gravel road.

The all-new 2017 Jeep Compass certainly maintains the brand’s character. The 4×4 Trailhawk version of the Compass will certainly wade over rocks with the best of them and even 4×2 version of the can ford a shallow river with ease and style.

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The new Jeep compact crossover utility vehicle is now replacing the older version of the Compass and the Patriot, which were more or less grafted onto the Jeep model line several years ago thanks to some clever work by engineers and designers. As crossover vehicles became steadily more popular, the Compass and Patriot accounted for a substantial chunk of the sales the compact CUV segment even though purists insisted they really didn’t have an authentic Jeep pedigree.

Unlike the old Compass/Patriot, however, the 2017 Compass is an authentic Jeep, having been designed, engineered and built right from the start mindful of the tradition of off-road travel that is part of Jeep’s character and lore in the mind of the brand’s legions of fans.

The exterior design of the Compass follows a path blazed by the popular Grand Cherokee. The seven-slot grille Jeep made famous figures prominently in the exterior design, but it stylized to make it look less traditional and more modern thank to clever shape of the day-time running lights while maintaining Jeep character of the front fascia.

The new Jeep Compass is a "real" Jeep in terms of its off-road capabilities.

The silhouette of the Compass presents long, clear lines that help accentuate the tilt of windshield and the smooth surfaces of the sheet metal, while the rear lights neatly carry over the emphasis on offering a sleek, tailored appearance when the vehicle is at rest or in motion.

(Jeep sales may flatten in the U.S. this year. Click Here for the story.)

The interior of the new Compass is also surprisingly roomy for a relatively small vehicle with a 103.7-inch wheel base and 71.4-inch width. But the interior is roomy enough for two adults comfortably on a long drive and even a couple more passengers in the second seat.

In addition, there is room for luggage or sporting gear in the rear compartment even if the second-seat is occupied.  The materials used throughout the interior of the Compass include soft materials and a variety of textures that enhance the comfort of both the driver and passengers.

The layout of instrument panel is neat and clean, and the all-important center console fits perfectly into the dashboard, while the gauges behind the steering wheel are easy to read even from the passenger seat. The driver and passenger seats are comfortable and while the cabin isn’t completely sealed off from road noise it is certainly quiet enough to hear the radio or carry on a conversation.

But the best part of new Compass is its chassis, suspension and well-tuned steering which make the it an enormous amount of fun to drive. On a trip through the Texas hill country the Compass mastered a variety of surfaces while providing a comfortable ride over some challenging roads. The steering was precise and while electrically powered also offered plenty of feedback on twisty roads. Brakes were more than ample.

The new Compass features a stylized version of the brand's famous seven-spoke grille.

We drove two different versions of the Compass 4×2 Latitude with six-speed automatic and 4×4 Limited with 4×4 with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Both the six-speed and the nine-speed are matched up with the 2.4 Tiger Shark engine built by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. The engine produces 180 horsepower and 175-foot pounds of torque and both 4×2 and 4×4 will get 25 miles per gallon in a combination of city and highway driving.

(Click Here to see more about the new Compass.)

The acceleration of both the six-speed and nine-speed seemed a trifle slow from a standing start. But the power was more than adequate for passing maneuvers on the freeway or two-lane highways.

The old versions of Patriot/Compass started life as on-road vehicles that Jeep engineers artfully massaged so they could perform adequately off road. They are actually better than most CUVs. But with the 2017 Compass, the off-road capability was baked in from the start, which is obvious when the Trailhawk moves up and over rocks on an off-road trail in cattle country.

Prices for the base Sport model of the 2017 Compass, a 4×2 with manual transmission, start at $20,995. The price does not include the $1,095 destination charge. Prices for the mid-grade Latitude with the 4×2 and six-speed automatic start at $24.295, while prices for the 4×4 Trailhawk start at $28,595 and the Limited version of the Compass is priced at $28,995 before the application of the destination charge.

The interior of the new Compass is clean and neat with gauges and other controls easy to read and access.

The 2017 Compass is also available with technology such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. fourth-generation Uconnect system, which offers hands-free communications, entertainment and navigation features and well as 5-inch, 7-inch or 8.4-inch touch screens.  Apple Car Play and Android Auto are also available, offering access to entertainment.

Advanced safety technology such as blind-spot detection, rear-cross cross-path detection, lane departure warning and forward collision warning are also available on the Compass in separate packages.

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The new Compass was designed to deliver large measures convenience, utility and solid ride comfort on a variety of roads to insure that the Jeep brand continues to attract buyers, looking for a vehicle that can handle multiple every-day tasks with style and even go for a drive in the wild every once in a while.

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One Response to “First Drive: 2017 Jeep Compass”

  1. JAE says:

    “Unlike the old Compass/Patriot, however, the 2017 Compass is an authentic Jeep…” Enough said