San Francisco: Jeep has jumped into new territory with the all-new Compass, the
compact SUV market segment. Although there have been other compact Jeeps
the Compass strikes out in a new direction for Jeep. This is the most
car-like Jeep ever produced. The Compass has a transverse engine and in
its base 4x2 design is front-wheel-drive, the first ever from Jeep.
The Jeep heritage is largely represented with the signature
7-slot grille. If it were not for the grille you would be hard pressed
to distinguish the Compass from many of its competitors. The styling is
contemporary-muscular. Jeep has to tread a fine line with the Compass;
it does not want to alienate long-time Jeepers who desire angularity,
while hopefully attracting compact SUV buyers who have largely bought
Japanese vehicles in the past.
Inside the Compass you will find comfortable seating for five,
two up front and three in the rear. Even the base Compass has a nice
array of amenities; 60/40 fold flat rear seat, stereo with CD player,
tilt steering column, 12-volt power outlet, etc. The base is more
utilitarian than the upscale models, having a vinyl covered cargo floor
for easy cleaning.
Access is good to the seats and the rear cargo area. Like most
compact SUVs the seats are right there at butt height (depending on your
butt’s height of course). My dear old mother used to complain that many
“modern” cars had their seats too low, making it very difficult for
older folks to get in or out of them. Compact SUVs generally do not have
that problem. The cargo area lift-over height is 30.5 inches and the
cargo floor is just about at the same level.
There is only one engine available at this time, Chrysler’s
2.4-liter, 4-cylinder, “World Engine.” The DOHC, 16-valve engine
produces 172 bhp and 165 lb.-ft. of torque and drives the front wheels
(on 4x2 models) through either a 5-speed manual transmission (standard),
or a constant velocity transmission (CVT) that is optional.
Having only one engine may prove to be a negative for the
Compass. Many of its immediate competitors have optional V6 engines that
offer more power and torque. I felt that the Compass’ engine was lacking
oomph, especially at lower rpm's.
I drove two different Compasses, a base Sport version and a
Limited. Overall they were pleasant vehicles to drive although I would
order my Compass differently. I prefer the manual transmission to the
CVT; I just cannot get used to CVTs. I would also add certain options
that are not there with the base. On the other hand I do not need or
want everything that comes on the Limited. With the two models, Sport
and Limited, and a large selection of options, there should not be a
problem outfitting a Compass exactly as you want one.
The driving dynamics were on par with other compact SUVs. Outside
of the higher center of gravity, which by itself is not really an issue,
the Compass rides and drives like many sedans. The center of gravity is
more of a perceived issue than a real one. Because you sit up high you
feel the corners more than the Compass does. Once you get used to
driving a Compass you will treat it just like a car.
For those of you who figure every Jeep should have
four-wheel-drive, don’t despair. The Compass is available with 4WD with
an Electronically Controlled Coupling. There is no transfer case though
so no Low Range 4WD. The Compass is not intended as a rock-crawler.
You can tow with a Compass but do not expect to tow your boat,
unless it’s just a little aluminum fishing boat. Maximum gross trailer
weight is 2,000 lbs.
2WD or 4WD makes very little difference to fuel economy. A manual
transmission 2WD Compass is rated at 26-city and 30-highway, the 4WD
drops that to 25 and 29 respectively. Fuel economy actually dips lower
with the CVT than it does with 4WD, registering 24/27 with 2WD and 23/26
Price-wise the Compass is really cost competitive. The base
Compass Sport lists for $15,985, fully optioned out I got the Compass
Limited up to $26,655. If you are in the market for a compact SUV the
new Jeep Compass is definitely worth a good look and a nice test drive.
Bruce Hotchkiss © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Jeep Home Page
Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: The Compass is
the most car-like Jeep ever produced
The 2007 Jeep Compass
Word Count: 789
The 2007 Jeep Compass
Photo Credits: Jeep Internet Media
Series #: 2006 - 61
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2007 Jeep Compass
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2007 Jeep Compass