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2017 Jeep Compass Review By Larry Nutson

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2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk
It’ll take you in every direction

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

The iconic Jeep brand continues to enjoy great popularity not only in the U.S. but around the world. New, fresh and well-designed vehicles are helping Jeep ride the wave of SUV popularity.

Jeep sales have been increasing annually both in the U.S. and globally for the last seven years. For the last three years global sales have exceeded one million. Last year, 2016, global sales increased 13 percent to 1.4 million and U.S. sales increase six percent to 926,376.

Jeep unveiled the all-new 2017 Compass in late 2016. I got my first in-person look a few months later at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show and I recall being well impressed by its new overall design and styling.

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The previous generation Compass had many shortcomings. Now all-new, on the outside the Compass is still very Jeep-ish, but much more attractive with a refined look. On the inside quality and comfort upgrades make the new Compass much more enjoyable to drive.

In May Jeep hosted members of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) to an up-close look at the new 2017 Jeep Compass. Jeep Compass Brand Manager Kim Japinga walked us through the Compass product lineup. The Compass is offered with a180-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and three transmissions, depending on model. There is a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic and a nine-speed automatic. The choice of front-wheel or four-wheel drive is offered and there are four trims – Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk.

Specifically, in the 2017 model line-up, the Sport and Latitude are available in FWD or AWD, and the Trailhawk and Limited come only AWD. FWD models use the six-speed automatic and AWD models use the nine-speed. Manual transmission is offered on both Sport models and the Latitude AWD.

Jeep has announced that for 2018 the Limited will also be available in front-wheel drive configuration. I would surmise that lots of folks like what the Jeep brand has to offer in the Compass, however their driving needs are well satisfied with front-wheel drive.

Pricing for the 2017 Compass starts at $20,995 for the Sport model and tops out at $28,995 for the Limited.


The media-loaner Compass I dove was a Trailhawk with an MSRP of $28,595. Optioned-up the bottom line rose to $34,460.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings for the Compass vary a bit by the drive train choice but they all are within one mpg of each other. For the Trailhawk 4X4 the EPA ratings are 25 mpg combined, with 22 city mpg and 30 highway mpg,

Noteworthy for an active-lifestyle Jeep owner is that the 4X4 models are rated to tow up to 2000 lbs., however towing is not recommend for 4X2 models.

The Compass is built on FCA’s small-wide 4x4 architecture featuring four-wheel independent suspension with up to 8.2 inches of wheel articulation and 8.5 inches of ground clearance.

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I had the opportunity this summer to drive the Compass on the off-road trails at FCA’s Chelsea, Michigan Proving Grounds. The high ground clearance and large wheel articulation enables the Compass to easily traverse the toughest of trails. The Trailhawk model has increased ride height, greater angles of approach, breakover and departure and can ford water up to 19 inches deep.

For on-the road enjoyment the Compass features include a dual-panel sunroof, power liftgate, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, UConnect infotainment system, navigation system and satellite radio.

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I thought the black finished dual-panel sunroof capping the Billet Silver paint quite striking in today’s world of monotone exteriors. It hearkened me back to the days of two-tone cars.

Around town in Chicago the engine and transmission combo seemed a bit lacking. I often was wanting more performance while accelerating, especially when merging onto the highway. I pushed the throttle down but didn’t get the response I was wanting. While 180-horsepower might seem enough, more engine torque is needed for the weighty Compass.

I took note that both the Instantaneous MPG and Average MPG in the driver information display are expressed as a whole number (no decimal), for example 24 mpg. Jeep tells me that having both MPGs this way is unique to the Compass and is the result of balancing the right amount of information and appropriate font size into the cluster screen. 

I think this is a good decision since driver comparisons are being made to the EPA test-cycle ratings that are whole numbers. It’s comparing apples to apples.

Note that the trip odometer does display MPG with one figure after the decimal, for example 24.3. This would be handy to monitor fuel consumption variations over a route that your drove very frequently under different driving conditions.

The Compass has some good driver-assistance safety features including rear park assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection. There’s also a rear back-up camera.

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All in all I liked the Compass, especially the rugged look of the Trailhawk I drove. A Jeep should look rugged. I hope the power train can get tweaked in the near future for some improved performance.

More info and specs can be found in the Jeep Buyers Guide or at

For a new-driver teen the Compass is probably a good and safe vehicle choice for them to get around in during there high school driving years.

© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy.

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