Small utes are a big part of the market, and Jeep quickly jumped into the segment when it began to take off several years ago with a variety of offerings.
Looking like a miniature Grand Cherokee (which is a very good thing) the 2023 Jeep Compass is in the sophomore year of its full redesign. The model gets a new powertrain this year, along with all-wheel drive as standard equipment. Oh wait, this is a Jeep — make that four-wheel drive. My time was spent with the High Altitude 4×4 Compass, which is the model’s most elegant and priciest iteration.
Finished in what Jeep refers to as Billet Silver Metallic Clear-Coat paint, the Compass I drove was at once handsome and classy-looking. Its black roof provided a nice contrast to the lower body and complemented it quite nicely.
The Compass’ 19-inch wheels were rendered in what Jeep refers to as Satin Granite Crystal, which was a nice departure from the murdered-out black wheels that seem to be bolted on anything even remotely sporty these days. Body-colored front fascia and wheel flares served to enhance the aura of rugged elegance radiated by the Compass.
Thoughtfully configured, the interior treatment is at once handsome and ergonomically sound. One of the things I’ve always admired about Chrysler, oops, I mean Stellantis, product is the fact it takes advantage of the real estate on the back of the lateral steering wheel spokes to provide audio system controls.
Three grownups rode comfortably with me without complaint in the Jeep over a fairly long distance. This, in part, is due to the fact the interior design team cleverly mounted the rear seat a bit higher. This is a slick way to provide added support for passengers seated in the second row.
That said, the Compass could have provided a bit more cargo space. Granted, there was enough for a short weekend getaway, but a summer family road trip might challenge the available space. It would also have been nice if the rear seats folded flat. Still, there is an appreciable increase in cargo space, when that second-row seat is folded, although passenger capacity is then reduced to two.
The new powertrain is a significant upgrade over the previous one. The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4 delivers more power and better fuel economy than the normally aspirated 2.4-liter unit it replaced. We’re now talking 200 horsepower rather than 180, and 221 pound-feet of torque, vs 175.
And yeah, I know even those higher numbers won’t set an enthusiast’s heart aflame, but drivability is significantly improved over the outgoing powerplant’s. Moreover, fuel economy is now rated at 24 mpg in the city compared to 22, and 32 on the highway compared to 31. Yes, those are incremental increases, however, the fact that they’re coupled with considerably more power is praiseworthy.
An 8-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive complete the drivetrain. Front-wheel drive is no longer a thing as far as Compass is concerned.
Safety and Technology
Automated emergency braking and lane keeping assist are standard equipment. Adaptive cruise control is offered as an option. Additional standard high tech safety kit includes Drowsy Driver Detection, Full-Speed Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection systems.
Infotainment tech includes a 10.25-inch frameless full-color thin-film transistor digital cluster, and a 10.1-inch digital infotainment touchscreen. Wireless CarPlay and Android compatibility are standard as well. The updated Uconnect 5 interface is said to respond five-times-faster than its predecessor and Compass also offers an optional wireless charging pad.
Configured to excel on pavement more so than dirt, the High Altitude Compass emphasizes ride quality over sheer offroad capability. That said, it does confidently acquit itself in soft road situations and is even up to some mild off-road excursions.
You’ll need to opt for the Compass Trailhawk, which is specifically configured to deal with dirt, if you want to get into some hardcore off-roading though.
With those thoughts in mind, the High Altitude Compass inspires considerable confidence on the road. The steering has a nice heft to it, agility is particularly impressive and overall, the Compass High Altitude feels solid, stable and right at home on pavement.
2023 Jeep Compass High Altitude 4×4 Specifications
|L: 173.4 inches/W: 73.8 inches/H: 69.7 inches/Wheelbase: 103.8 inches
|2.0-liter turbocharged inline 3-cylinder, 8-speed automatic transmission and 4WD
|24 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined
|200 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $35,495; As tested: $42,075 including $1,595 destination charge
Benefitting mightily form that 2022 makeover, this is easily the best Jeep Compass the company has ever offered. It’s good looking, well equipped and can be configured to do dirt just as well as it handles excursions to Trader Joe’s. Even better, the Compass offers the handsome appearance of the Grand Cherokee in a smaller, less costly package.
2023 Jeep Compass High Altitude — Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of engine does a Jeep Compass have?
The 2023 Compass uses a 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 221 pound-feet of torque.
Is Jeep Compass a true 4×4?
Jeep refers to the Compass as having the Jeep Active Drive 4×4 system. Compass Trailhawk is also equipped with Low-range 4×4 system with a 20:1 crawl ratio.
Is Jeep Compass good in snow?
Jeep’s Select-Terrain Traction Management System is fitted to the Compass, which offers multiple drive modes, including a Snow mode.