The times have been pretty good around the Jeep camp these days. Other than the small hiccup over the 9-speed automatic in the new Cherokee, we haven’t heard much of anything that wasn’t positive. How can you complain when the SRT Grand Cherokee is still alive and kicking? That being said, there are two cars that are sort-of left over from the previous reign; cars that have seemed to miss the upgrade boat. One of which was the car that we have here, the Jeep Compass.
I know, that sounded a little harsh, but trust me, it’s not all bad. The exterior, for example, has been updated slightly with a new grille, headlights and some very good looking 18″ wheels. Our tester was the Limited trim, thus giving us the very attractive saddle brown interior, which garnered compliments all week. Jeep’s UConnect system, an optional extra on the Limited, worked well but felt rather outdated. The LED readouts in the gauges seemed to be similar, if not exactly the same as my grandmothers 2002 Concorde, so it was at least familiar. They’re a far cry from the cluster of the Dodge Durango we tested. The dials and surrounds were reminiscent of a compass, a nice touch, but it made the numbers rather small. The seats were extremely soft and comfortable for long drives. The rear occupants had plenty of room as well, even if you were over six feet like myself. One unique touch is the fold-out speakers in the rear tailgate that allows for the excellent Boston Acoustic sound system to be used for outdoor events.
Driving the Jeep is as simple as putting the key in the ignition. It’s actually of some satisfaction to turn a key again with all the push button start options these days. Them again, remote start without keyless entry is a bit of a hassle in the bitter cold. The ride is extremely comfortable for an SUV and the handling is what you would expect; a little body roll, but some confidence inspiring steering. The electric power steering in the Compass is one of the best we’ve experienced in recent memory with ample feedback and very direct turn-in. The Compass get’s a new transmission for 2014. Now a six speed unit, rather than a CVT in this trim, the shifts are pretty stable but occasionally clunky when the car is warming up. The new six speed is mated to is a 2.4L I-4 with 172 horsepower. The engine is ample, but never in a hurry. It does return very good fuel economy for an SUV this size, netting us 24.3 on the week.
Our week with the Compass gave us plenty of time to get a great feel for the 4×4 system. During a week that brought near-record cold and a fair amount of snow, the Compass showed it’s true value. Simply pull the lever tucked under the center armrest and the Jeep transitions into 4×4 mode. With not as much of a slip or a slide, the Compass always felt planted in any type of driving condition. It even helped us do a little offroading for our Christmas special. Once the roads are clear, another pull of the lever and you’re back to two-wheel driving.
To sum it up, the Compass is a worthy year-round companion. It’s comfortable, quiet, efficient, and in Limited trim offers a host of useful equipment. We wonder how much longer the Compass, and it’s stable mate the Patriot will be around; Chrysler has yet to announce anything. So, for now, if you are in need of a small SUV that has a go-anywhere and do-anything attitude with some luxury touches, the Compass is an oldie but goodie.
|2014 Jeep Compass Limited
|Security and Cargo Convenience Group||$595|
|Premium Sound Group||$650|
|Dark Slate Gray / Saddle Tan Interior||$295|
|As Tested MSRP||$30,725|