Fully redesigned and filled with the latest tech features, the 2017 Jeep Compass provides buyers with a unique option within the small SUV segment. It’s not quite spacious enough to be family friendly, and some competitors offer more power, but the 2017 Compass carves a unique niche for itself with a capable four-wheel-drive system, composed handling and an upscale interior.
The Jeep Compass is fully redesigned for 2017. This compact SUV seats five and comes standard with a four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while two automatic transmission choices and two four-wheel drive systems are offered.
Jeep offers the 2017 Compass in Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited trims.
With styling cues that remind us of the larger Jeep Grand Cherokee, the all-new Compass has rugged good looks that set it apart within the small SUV segment. Jeep’s traditional seven-slot grille is framed within the front fascia, and the SUV’s wide stance is complemented by aggressive design elements that are specific to models like our test Compass Trailhawk. Short front and rear overhangs contribute to a sporty profile, and base models ride on 16-inch painted steel wheels.
Daytime running lights, halogen headlights and heated power-adjustable side mirrors come standard on the base Compass Sport. Upgrades include tinted rear windows, a power liftgate, automatic headlights, fog lights, HID headlights, LED taillights, roof rails and a sunroof. A number of wheel options are available, and they range in size from 16 to 19 inches.
While it doesn’t seem as spacious as competitors like the 2017 Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, Jeep’s redesigned Compass offers a stylish interior that’s built with materials that look and feel upscale for the class. Soft-touch surfaces cover touch points such as the dash, door panels and center console, while the driver is treated to an attractive, easy-to-read gauge cluster and straightforward audio and climate controls.
The front seats offer plenty of head- and legroom, though taller occupants might find that the center stack cuts into knee room. Passenger space is adequate for two in the second row, and the Compass provides an acceptable 27.2 cubic feet of space with all seats in use. Lowering the 60/40-split folding rear seat opens up a maximum of 59.8 cubic feet of space. While that’s certainly more room than most subcompact SUVs offer, the CR-V provides an additional 16 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity.
The base Compass comes standard with air conditioning, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column and six-way manually adjustable front seats. Trim or package upgrades add features like dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, upgraded cloth or leather-trimmed seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
The Compass is a highly maneuverable small SUV that offers a great deal of driving fun on twisty stretches of roads. Our test Compass Trailhawk impressed with quick steering, firm brakes and nimble handling.
Unfortunately the Compass’ driving dynamics are sapped by an engine that can feel a bit underpowered during highway passing maneuvers or steep hill climbs. Its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is adequate in most other driving situations, providing 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. A smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission came with our four-wheel-drive test vehicle, while front-wheel-drive models offer the choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.
While the Compass Trailhawk felt a little underpowered when compared against some rivals, it offers off-road capability that’s rare within the segment. A full-time four-wheel-drive system with dedicated low-range gearing ensures that the Compass is ready for off-pavement excursions, while Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system provides optimized drive modes for conditions that include mud, rock, sand and snow.
The Compass gets its best fuel economy estimates with front-wheel drive and the six-speed manual transmission, delivering an EPA-estimated 23/32 mpg city/highway. Four-wheel-drive models with the nine-speed automatic are rated at 22/30 mpg.
Jeep’s Uconnect system has long earned praise as one of the most user-friendly infotainment systems on the market, and the 2017 Compass brings in the latest version with new optional features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Our test Compass came with a top-of-the-line Uconnect system that included these features, as well as navigation and a large 8.4-inch touch screen. The touch screen offers clear menus and responds quickly to user inputs, making it easy to navigate through the available phone, navigation and entertainment functions.
While our Compass Trailhawk came with all the available bells and whistles, even base models offer a competitive set of standard features, including keyless entry and ignition, a 5-inch touch screen, a USB port, Bluetooth, voice recognition and a six-speaker audio system.
Upgraded versions of Uconnect include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and are available with 7- or 8.4-inch touch screens. A nine-speaker Beats audio system, satellite radio and remote start are also offered.
The 2017 Compass received four out of five stars for its overall performance in crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A rearview camera is standard on all models, while optional safety features include blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and forward collision warning with brake assist.
The 2017 Compass Sport starts at $20,995, not including a $1,095 destination charge. Latitude and Trailhawk models start at $24,295 and $28,595, respectively, while the top Limited trim is priced from $28,995.
Our pick would probably be the Compass Latitude, which brings in automatic headlights, roof rails, 17-inch wheels and upgraded upholstery. Choosing the Latitude also allows you to add package options that are not available on the base trim. Add four-wheel drive, a full suite of driver-assistance features and the Popular Equipment group (which includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a host of interior upgrades) and you can expect the Compass to carry a suggested price of about $28,500.
While a number of small crossovers seem to iterate on a similar formula, the 2017 Compass stands apart as a model that will likely appeal to a specific type of buyer. It lacks the interior space and cargo-carrying versatility of the segment’s most popular small crossovers, and buyers who prioritize performance will likely be let down by the Compass’ limited highway passing power.
Those issues aside, Jeep brought some thoughtful upgrades to the table with the Compass’ redesign, including an attractive cabin that can be optioned with the latest tech features. There’s also the choice of two capable four-wheel drive systems, which is essentially unique to the Jeep brand in this segment. If ample tech and off-road prowess strike you as being appealing attributes in an SUV, the Compass may be the right model for you.