It’s a good rule of thumb in business and other pursuits that you should never seek to compete with yourself. McDonald’s wouldn’t open two stores right across the street from each other, just as Rogaine wouldn’t start preaching self-acceptance to balding men. But someone must have forgotten to tell Jeep, because those purveyors of Americana are slicing the market ever thinner as they seek to build an off-roader for every conceivable customer. The Jeep Compass, redesigned for 2017 to more closely resemble its big brother the Grand Cherokee, slots in between Jeep’s smaller Renegade and larger Cherokee. It’s a useful size and a well-executed vehicle, despite some performance hiccups. Strong sales for the redesigned model suggest that Jeep’s inter-family competition is actually a good thing for the brand.
What’s New for 2018?
Fresh off a total redesign for 2017, the Compass is almost completely unchanged for 2018. The only tweak to the lineup is that the Limited trim, which was previously only available with all-wheel drive, can now be had with front-wheel drive.
What Was New for 2017?
The Compass was completely redesigned for the 2017 model year. Its new face echoes the handsome looks of the brand’s largest model sold in the United States, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Freshened powertrains replace the dated options from previous models, and a full complement of active safety and infotainment technologies are now available to buyers who are willing to pay top dollar.
Trims and Options We’d Choose
Buyers with serious off-roading on the docket will only be satisfied by the purpose-built Trailhawk, but at $30,140 it’s at the high end of the Compass’s price bracket. For those who want most of the performance, the Latitude model, placed just above the base Sport trim, is a good choice. We’d spec ours with all-wheel drive, a no-cost option in this trim. We’d also choose the standard six-speed manual, as it can hardly be worse than the optional nine-speed automatic we’ve tested; for those disinclined to shift for themselves, the automatic adds $1500. Starting at $25,740, Latitude features include:
• Leather-wrapped steering wheel
• Automatic headlamps
• 5.0-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system
Jeep offers several option packages for the Compass. We’d be tempted by the $1195 Navigation package, which adds automatic climate control and an upgraded infotainment system with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. We’d also include the $245 compact spare tire, which should have been a standard feature.
The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that powers every Compass is lethargic, and the nine-speed automatic transmission we drove for this review was slow to execute shifts. Jeep’s available all-wheel-drive system, however, is by far the most capable in this class.