Reviews

2018 Jeep Compass Driving Impressions


The Compass needs and deserves a better engine, to keep up with its ride and handling. Its 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque don’t sound so lame on paper, but on the road it struggles with more than two occupants. Add two more people and some gear in back, and it becomes work to keep the speed up.

The Sport and Latitude come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission, while the 6-speed automatic is optional. Unfortunately we haven’t driven a Compass with either of these transmissions, just the 9-speed automatic that we have found to be clunky in the Cherokee and other Chrysler models, especially downshifting for acceleration. So we might prefer the 6-speed automatic. By comparison, the new 9-speed in the GMC Terrain is smooth.

The independent suspension is tuned for comfort, except on the Trailhawk. But even the Trailhawk delivers a good ride. The Sport’s 16-inch wheels deliver the best ride, the Latitude’s 17-inchers are fine too, but with the 19-inch wheels the ride gets jittery.

There is some body lean, but the Compass still enters corners with confidence. The thick steering wheel suggests a level of sportiness that the chassis and steering don’t deliver, however. The Compass doesn’t handle like a Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5.

The Trailhawk offers something that the other compact crossovers don’t, never mind that it’s still only half-way to offroad. It’s a gentrified small Jeep, not a true-blue one. But it’s a nice compromise.

The raised bumpers give it higher approach and departure angles, but they detract from the clean styling. The one inch increased ground clearance gives it a total of 8.4 inches. The 9-speed automatic is programmed for rock crawling at very slow speed. But mostly, the traction control system adds two modes.

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