2017 Jeep Compass: City Slicker or Urban Cowboy? [Review]

2017 Jeep Compass

The all-new 2017 Jeep Compass has received a lot of coverage since its introduction this year. We know it is worthy of Jeep’s off-road heritage, but does the Compass work well as a daily commuter on the weekdays and able to serve weekend warrior duty when the active lifestyle takes over? One way to find out is by depositing the Jeep’s all-new global compact SUV into the trials of the San Francisco Bay Area.

2017 Jeep Compass

Standard powertrain for the 2017 Compass is a 180 horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and the results are disappointing driving around town and on the highway. We found the Compass’ acceleration to be slow, with delayed downshifts and lethargic response. We tried to keep an open mind. Unfortunately, our experience with the Compass felt even slower than the numbers suggest.

Fuel economy is EPA-estimated to be 24 mpg overall, but we barely squeezed 22 mpg after a week of driving the 4WD crossover on mostly flat roads and in light traffic.

2017 jeep compass interior

In our humble opinion, the Compass’ ride is not suited for the torn up roads of the urban jungle or long jaunts on the open road when you want to escape for regions less traveled. The Jeep’s slow and light steering tells us it is reluctant to corner. The ride is an annoying pattern of jitters and the larger bumps can knock the Compass off course. The brake pedal is overly sensitive, making it difficult to stop smoothly.

Handling feels secure until the low limits of the tires signal to back off. Running on low-profile 45-series all-season tires are fine until you come across terrain that is more demanding than a fire road.

The cabin has a few soft-touch surfaces but hard, plastic panels make up a majority of the cabin. Most of which are located at low points and easily scratched from just normal wear and tear. Space in the front seats is similar to the Jeep Renegade. Sadly, the driver’s seat lacks support for those extended outings on the weekend or long daily commute drives to work.

Both the Jeep Renegade and Compass share the same platform. Thanks to the Compass’ 2.4-inch longer wheelbase, back seat legroom is fair but rear seat passengers are forced to sit awkwardly. Accommodation for adults up to six feet tall will be okay for short rides.

2017 Jeep Compass interior

From the driver’s perspective, the positioning is upright and has a good overview of the road. Side and rear-view visibility are restricted by narrow side windows. Cabin serenity is elusive with the intrusion of too much road noise and a coarse engine drone drowning out your favorite audio book.

The compact dimensions of the Compass are either a boon or hindrance – depending upon your immediate situation. In the tight confines of the city, it is adept at getting around obstacles and fitting into parking spaces. It only needs 36.3 feet to make a complete U-turn. The Tucson, CR-V, and Escape need an extra foot or two to pull off the same move. Notably, the RAV4 requires less space with its turning circle of 34.8 feet when wearing 17-inch wheels.

Cargo Volume Behind 2nd Row Seats Cargo Volume w/2nd Row Seats Folded
2017 Jeep Compass 27.2 ft3 59.8 ft3
2017 Honda CR-V 38.4 ft3 73.4 ft3
2017 Ford Escape 34.0 ft3 68.0 ft3
2017 Hyundai Tucson 31.0 ft3 61.9 ft3
2017 Mazda CX-5 30.9 ft3 59.6 ft3

Packing for a long weekend trip requires Tetris packing skills or accustom to traveling light. We discovered that cargo space is not as big as it looks from the outside. The 27 cubic feet behind the back seat opens up to nearly 60 cubic feet after dropping the 2nd-row seats. That may sound generous but it can fill up rather quickly if your lifestyle includes any action sports. Class-competitors such as the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape offer more cargo room.

All advanced safety features are offered as optional equipment for the 2017 Compass models. Lane-departure warning, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert are available as add-ons on every trim level except the base Sport.

MSRP starts at an attractive $20,995 for the Sport trim if you are a minimalist or on a really tight budget. The real meat starts at the Latitude trim, which has a base price of $24,295. Start checking off a few desirable features such as heated front seats and steering wheel, full-speed forward collision warning, or blind spot and cross-path detection warning, and the final price quickly escalates.

Our Limited 4×4 has a base price of  $28,995 and equipped with the Uconnect Advanced Tech Group package, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, and a compact-size spare tire. The grand total summed up to $34,460. This puts it in the neighborhood of the Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Escape and Honda CR-V – all of which are more capable and better performers.

The all-new 2017 Compass has classic Jeep styling cues, has a better refined interior than the previous generation, and boasts serious off-road capability. Unfortunately, the Compass and has too many weaknesses to compete in the heavily contested compact crossover category. We found the packaging and driving dynamics had a lot of room for improvement, fuel economy wasn’t anywhere near the top of its class, and interior room was limiting.

2017 Jeep Compass Limited 4×4 Specs
MSRP $28,995
Price as tested $34,460
Engine 2.4L TigerShark w/MultiAir2 SOHC 4-cylinder
Power (hp) 180 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 175 @ 3,900 rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
Drivetrain layout Transverse front-engine, 4×4
EPA-estimated fuel economy mpg 22/30/25 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Curb weight 3,327 lbs.
Wheelbase 103.8 inches
Ground clearance 8.2 inches
Approach angle 16.8 degrees
Breakover angle 22.9 degrees
Departure angle 31.7 degrees
Max cargo volume 59.8 cu. ft.
Cargo volume behind 2nd row 27.2 cu. ft.

How mud-worthy is the new 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk? Watch this TFLcar video to learn the answer.