The 2023 Jeep Compass has finally become a vehicle worthy of consideration, having undergone an interior makeover last year and a heart transplant this year.
The result is a far better vehicle, possibly the nicest Compass ever offered, although given the quality of some previous models, that’s not saying much. This is a vehicle that was born a faux Jeep, a pretender to the throne that was rude and crude. It improved for the second-generation, but was still hobbled by poor product decisions.
But it’s time to put that out of your mind. The 2023 Jeep Compass finally has the peppy performance and well-designed interior worthy of its fetching exterior design.
This is the second-generation Compass, which debuted in 2017 and shares its architecture with the just-launched Alfa Romeo Tonale and forthcoming Dodge Hornet. Slotted above the sub-compact Renegade, but below the midsize Cherokee, the 2023 Jeep Compass is offered in five ascending trim levels: Sport, Latitude, Latitude LUX, Limited and trail-rated Trailhawk. Its many competitors in the compact SUV segment include the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-50, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Bronco Sport, Subaru Crosstrek and Toyota RAV4.
It’s easy to be smitten by this rendition of the Jeep Compass thanks to a handsome design that’s classic modern Jeep. Highly alluring, it’s very much the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s younger brother.
A key element is the window garnish that starts at the base of the windshield, climbing up and over the top of the side windows before descending the rear roof pillar and underlining the rear window before climbing back up and over the other side windows before framing the other side of the windshield pillar. It draws your eye around the vehicle, lending a sense of movement to its design.
Well, this is more like it. Redesigned, elevated center console with modern switchgear. Slim HVAC vents augment the sleek instrument panel’s modern appearance, which now boasts a thin film transistor digital instrument cluster. It’s accented with subtle handcrafted trim and a large center touchscreen.
The seats feel better, although they still lack support after a couple hours behind the wheel. Second row seating is comfortably high and overall space is about average for the class.
Cargo volume is rated at 27.2 cubic feet. Folding the rear seats expands that to 59.8 cubic feet.
The big change for 2023 is important, as Jeep has banished the truly awful 2.4-liter Tigershark 4-cylinder engine and 9-speed automatic transmission. Being neither a tiger nor a shark, it has been replaced by a 2.0-liter direct injection turbocharged double-overhead-cam 4-cylinder engine delivering 200 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque through an 8-speed automatic transmission. That’s a noticeable upgrade from the 2.4-liter’s 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque.
The engine is shared with the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, although a plug-in hybrid isn’t offered on the Compass — yet.
Jeep’s Active Drive 4×4 system is standard for 2023 on all models; front-wheel drive is no longer offered. Trailhawk models come equipped with Active Drive Low 4×4, which provides all-wheel drive along with a low range and a 20:1 crawl ratio for off-roading.
Both systems come with Jeep Selec-Terrain driving modes, which includes Auto, Snow, Sand/Mud modes, plus a Rock mode on Trailhawks, which also get hill-descent control, which maintains vehicle speed by controlling the brakes on steep, rugged grades. To improve fuel economy, rear axle and power-transfer unit disconnects when not needed.
Towing is rated at 2,000 pounds.
Safety and Technology
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash-tested the 2023 Jeep Compass. The 2022 model was rated at four stars overall. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t tested the 2023 Compass either, but rated the 2022 model a Top Safety Pick.
Driver assistance safety features include Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Path detection, Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, Brake Assist, and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian/Cyclist detection. Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go is optional on Latitude and Latitude LUX and standard on Limited and Trailhawk. An optional Highway Assist semi-autonomous driving is optional on Limited and Trailhawk models.
When it comes to technology, the Compass is satisfyingly up-to-date. A 7-inch digital instrument cluster is standard, a 10.25-inch digital cluster is optional on Trailhawk and Limited.
A standard 10.1-inch center-mounted touchscreen is standard and runs Uconnect 5, which proves faster than previous versions, and sports a far more sophisticated user interface. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and a wireless charging pad is optional. In addition, front row USB-A and USB-C ports are standard. Rear seat riders get USB-A ports, although USB-C ports are optional as part of a package on all but base Sport trims.
A six-speaker audio system is standard; a nine-speaker Alpine audio system with subwoofer is available as part of the Sun and Sound Group, which brings with it a dual-pane panoramic sunroof. Sweet.
The Compass was never an off-road warrior like the Wrangler, nor the urbane sophisticate like the Grand Cherokee. But its overall demeanor is far more likeable for 2023. The new powerplant addresses the major problem with the 2017-22 model: it’s utter wheeziness.
That’s no longer true, with the new turbocharged four supplying the requisite muscle to move this midget with moxie. It’s a bit vibratory, however, something even fluid-filled engine mounts haven’t alleviated.
And the transmission tuning is still too fuel-economy minded. Rushing to upshift, requests for more power are met with a firm downshift, noticeable turbo lag and an abrupt onset of power. Shifting manually is a far smoother affair. Clearly, some massaging of the driveline would help immensely, as the basics are here. It’s not a dealbreaker, as others in this class suffer from the same behavior.
Thankfully, engineers reworked the dampers, springs, and bushings, and the result is a far more comfortable ride and more compliance that makes for better ride comfort but without excess body motions. There’s some body lean while cornering, but that’s to be expected with an off-roader. It remains well-controlled, with beautifully weighted steering that proves responsive. Noise is moderate but not objectionable.
It’s a far better driving experience than you’d imagine.
2023 Jeep Compass Specifications
|L: 173.4 inches/W: 73.8 inches/H: 64.8 inches/Wheelbase: 103.8 inches
|2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, AWD
|24 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined
|200 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque
With the 2023 Jeep Compass, Stellantis has finally addressed the maladies that have afflicted this vehicle for far too long, given the competitiveness of this class. It finally possesses the interior and performance worthy of its distinguished looks.
2023 Jeep Compass — Frequently Asked Questions
Is Jeep Compass a reliable car?
Consumer Reports hasn’t rated the Jeep Compass’ reliability. J.D. Power rates it at 79 out of 100 points.
What is the gas mileage for a 2023 Compass?
The EPA rates the 2023 Jeep Compass at 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. We got 27 mpg in combined driving.
Is Jeep Compass a true SUV?
Well, somewhat. Jeep’s Active Drive is an all-weather, all-wheel drive system. Trailhawk models are fitted with a low-range crawl ratio similar to a Wrangler, for off-road driving.