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Recalibrated Compass: All-New 2017 Jeep

By Sue Mead, May 27th, 2017

The all-new 2017 Jeep Compass is designed to bring best-in-class functionality, with exceptional on-road driving dynamics and Jeep's legendary off-road capability.

Manufacturer photo: The 2017 Compass slots between the slightly smaller Jeep Renegade and the slightly larger Cherokee, with styling that is less boxy than the Renegade and more sleek like its Cherokee sibling
Manufacturer photo: The 2017 Compass slots between the slightly smaller Jeep Renegade and the slightly larger Cherokee, with styling that is less boxy than the Renegade and more sleek like its Cherokee sibling

We drove the second-generation model over a course of close to 200 miles through the stunning Texas Hill Country and tested it on a rigorous 4WD track. We can attest: the new-generation model has found its true north.

Compass slots in size and price between the slightly smaller Jeep Renegade and the slightly larger Cherokee, with styling that is less boxy than the Renegade and more sleek like its Cherokee sibling. It comes in four trims: Sport, Latitude, Limited, and Trailhawk. Pricing starts at $19,940.

Powered by Chrysler's 2.4-liter Tigershark engine, it creates 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque. It benefits from a stop/start fuel-savings system and delivers up to 32 mpg. Three transmissions are available: a class-exclusive nine-speed automatic for 4x4 models, a six-speed automatic for 4x2 models, and a six-speed manual for both the 2WD and 4WD versions.

Jeep says its two new 4WD systems are the best in their class; each of the advanced, intelligent systems can send 100 percent of available torque to any one wheel. Jeep Active Drive is engineered with a fully automatic, one-speed power transfer unit (PTU) for fuel economy, and is set up with four Selec-Terrain drive modes (Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud).

Manufacturer photo: The 2017 Compass slots between the slightly smaller Jeep Renegade and the slightly larger Cherokee, with styling that is less boxy than the Renegade and more sleek like its Cherokee sibling

Exclusive to Trailhawk is Active Drive LOW, which adds a Rock mode for extreme conditions and top off-road performance. The Trail-Rated Trailhawk's Selec-Terrain also adds Selec-Speed Control and Hill-Descent Control.

The updated utility vehicle is more modern and eye appealing; it wears traditional Jeep design cues like the legendary seven-slot grille that is freshened with each of the chrome slots set in a Gloss Black field and headlamp bezels that feature a black outline. A traditional clamshell hood has been crafted with a double break line and center bulge; other cues include a Jeep-style roofline and muscular fenders and shoulders. An available Gloss Black painted roof gives it a unique, premium appearance, along with the available open-air dual-pane sunroof. At the rear are unique, slim rectangular LED taillamps that flow into the high and wide liftgate (available with power, depending on trim level).

Signature Jeep design cues carry over to the cabin that is appointed with premium materials and new technology. Interior trim choices bring uplevel colors and finishes and highlight surfaces, like the trapezoidal center stack bezel that houses the 5.0-, 7.0-, or 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen displays. The center console integrates multiple functions, such as the gearshift selection, Selec-Terrain controls, electronic parking brake, engine stop/start controls, climate and volume control knobs, and easily accessible media charging and connectivity ports within the cubby bin.

The cockpit has good elbow room and overall roominess for its compact size, with multiple storage solutions throughout the cabin, including a stylish mesh side pocket in the front passenger footwell that can hold a notebook or tablet device, and a clever, multi-level floor in the rear cargo area.

The trail-rated Compass Trailhawk sports more aggressive design elements and unique fascias with more extreme approach, departure, and breakover angles; Jeep's red front and rear tow hooks; aggressive 17-inch off-road tires; up to 19 inches of water fording depth and up to 2,000 pounds of towing capability.

Manufacturer photo: The 2017 Compass slots between the slightly smaller Jeep Renegade and the slightly larger Cherokee, with styling that is less boxy than the Renegade and more sleek like its Cherokee sibling

On-road, the updated model shines with a 'crickets-quiet' interior, precise electric power steering, and a responsive, smooth ride with its fully independent suspension. We sampled different trim levels but were not able to try out the manual transmission.

Compass comes with a body comprising 65 percent high-strength steel and more than 70 available active and passive features including full-speed Forward Collision Warning-Plus, LaneSense Departure Warning-Plus, ParkSense Rear Park Assist, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic grid lines, electronic stability control with hill start assist, trailer sway control, and electronic roll mitigation.

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