Auto Review: A Compass to find your way
By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jul. 12, 2012
When you consider that Jeep started out during wartime with basically one simple, durable runabout, it’s amazing how the Jeep name now defines such a genuinely diversified line of vehicles. This includes this week’s compact SUV that is designed as much for good fuel economy as it is for utility, and also has commendable all-weather capability and (with two 4X4 systems available) some light off-road ability, as well. The Compass lets you select these systems to suit your needs, depending on how far off the beaten path you wish to wander, so to speak (and you also can have a front-drive only version, if you don’t require 4WD at all). This is one of the Compass’ greatest attributes: the ability to tailor the vehicle to your particular requirements.
Along with your pick of drive wheels, there are three trim levels available (Sport, Altitude and Limited). The engine is either a standard (on 2WD models) 2-liter Inline Four that puts out 158 horsepower, or an optional 2.4-liter Inline Four with 172 horsepower that is standard with the top-of-the-line Limited model and is also found on all 4WD units. Transaxle choices include either a 5-Speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic (standard on the Latitude and Limited models).
As mentioned before, you can outfit your Compass with front-wheel drive, the Freedom Drive I full-time 4x4 system or the Freedom Drive II Off-Road Package with active 4x4 and selectable low-range gearing. That’s a lot of versatility for this segment, and we tested a Limited 4X4 with the 2.4 liter, CVT gearbox and Freedom I drive system. Acceleration is not brisk but adequate, with 60 mph arriving in an average of 9.29 seconds. Ride quality is firm, but bump compliance is very good, which translates to decent control on the road or on milder trails, and the compact size makes for great maneuverability. Our Freedom I AWD system had a center lock as well, for dealing with slipperier conditions.
Inside, the Compass is fairly compact, but boasts some very useful features. Durable leather upholstery is standard in the Limited range, and the front seats offer decent room, while the rear seats offer adequate space for two adults, and the seatbacks fold forward in 60/40 fashion to increase cargo capacity. Up front, the optional Garmin Navigation System proved easy to use, and this system is part of the Premium Audio Package that includes Boston Acoustics sound and fold-down speakers in the liftgate for entertaining while parked. But my favorite feature (and standard on all models) is a removable, rechargeable flashlight above the liftgate. Brilliant. Every vehicle should have this handy torch for emergencies.
The Jeep Compass gets top marks for giving you a lot of ways to configure it to your needs, and offers a lot of standard features that increase its versatility. The 2012 Jeep Compass Limited 4X4 is EPA rated 21 MPG city/26 highway and we saw 23 MPG during a week of mixed driving. The base price was $26,045, and with options our sticker came to $28,919. www.jeep.com