Chances are, if you’re reading this, something about the wee-little Jeep Compass appeals to your off road aspirations. I know how you feel as I was curious as to how well the Jeep Compass would do off road. I wondered if the Compass would make a good daily driver while having the chops to take me and my brood to my favorite fishing hole.
Then I drove one of the early versions of a new a factory modified Jeep Compass Concept and was left wanting.
The continuously variable transmission (CVT) irritated me, but not as much as the lack of ground clearance. I simply shrugged it off as an attempt to make something as dreadful as the Dodge Caliber (they are cousins) more marketable. And, despite the endorsement of an automotive journalist who brought up its “Jeep cachet” while pimping it on television – it was crap.
Fast forward a few years later: Jeep revises the goofy looks of the Compass while giving it a lift AND adding more off road ability to its reputation. Not only did I like it, but “She-who-must-be-obeyed” liked it too. Still, there was not enough ground clearance and absolutely no underside armor. I drove a prototype Compass with Mopar goodies, but, like the Jeep J-12 Concept, it was just to test the waters – nothing more.
Now we have something kind of special – a second prototype that may sport goodies that may grace a Mopar catalogue soon. With an additional two-inches of lift mixed with beefier tires, skid-plates, bumpers, an exhaust package and silly speakers bolted to the floor, this Jeep Compass looks like it will play whoop-ass with any other crossover that tries to play in its sandbox. It still drives like a Jeep Compass, but it feels taller in the saddle and slightly more truck-ish.
No, there is no friggin’ “Jeep cachet” to be exploited as this is not a Wrangler or Grand Cherokee. It’s still an economy car with good traction and the ability to go where a CR-V can’t. The CVT still requires you to drive in a counterintuitive fashion as you have to rev its nuts off to get over obstacles whereas Wranglers require slow finesse.
With these new modifications and components, the Compass is one step closer to actually being considered a worth Jeep… nearly.
There is a five-speed manual transmission available for the Compass, but that only comes with the Freedom Drive I system (which is basically all-wheel drive). The Freedom Drive II system has a 19:1 crawl ratio and is the system that Jeeps says is “Trail Rated.” That means, it’s able to off road – which this new Compass can do. With these new goodies, it might even surprise a few Jeep purists.
Check out the video and tell us what you think!