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2019 Jeep Compass Review

Road Trippin’ in Jeep’s “Baby Grand”

Aug 15, 2019

If there’s a better way to get the feel for and discover the idiosyncrasies of a particular vehicle than plopping down in the left-front seat and going for a long-haul drive, I’m not aware of it.


Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder

Output: 180 horsepower, 175 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

U.S. Fuel Economy (MPG): 22 city, 30 highway, 25 combined

CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 10.8 city, 7.8 highway, 9.5 combined

U.S. As-Tested Price:
$37,360 including $1,495 for delivery

CAN Estimated Price: $49,208

A pavement-pounding 1,100-mile road trip can provide you with a wealth of knowledge about the steed you’re piloting, that plus a sore backside and an unhealthy craving for gas-station coffee. Just such a journey has given me a few strong opinions of Jeep’s Compass, the off-road brand’s fine-looking small crossover.

Why take this trail-ready utility on such a lengthy trip? Well, every year in late spring the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) hosts a blockbuster drive event at Road America. Nestled amongst the gently rolling hills and bucolic pasturelands of Eastern Wisconsin, this high-speed four-mile track is unquestionably one of the premiere racing circuits in the United States. Too bad it’s nowhere near my home in Southeastern Michigan, hence the trek across America’s heartland.
Jeep’s “Baby Grand”

Size-wise, the Compass is something of a ‘tweener. In certain measurements it’s slightly smaller than a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Chevrolet Equinox, but it’s also a touch larger than rival companies’ subcompact utility offerings, products like the HR-V, C-HR and Trax.

Fortunately, this splitting-the-difference marketplace positioning does nothing to detract from the Compass’ overall appearance. Exterior styling is one of its most-appealing aspects. Unlike the robotic-looking Honda HR-V, that oddly proportioned Chevrolet Trax or Toyota’s weird-looking C-HR, this is an incredibly handsome little hauler that’s the spittin’ image of its larger corporate sibling, the ever-comely Jeep Grand Cherokee. From its iconic seven-slot grille that slightly curves in plan-view along its nose to those squared-off wheel openings to that perky rear-end, the Compass is a looker from just about every angle.

What About the Interior?

Unfortunately, things aren’t quite as well done inside. This vehicle’s cabin is perfectly decent, with plenty of soft plastics in all the places you’d expect them, it’s just many of the materials look pretty workaday, though, admittedly, they’re not really any worse than what you get in competing models.

A few elements do detract from overall cabin ambiance. The steering column-mounted control stalks are remarkably frail, feeling like they might snap off in you hand if, for instance, you engage the windshield wipers with too much enthusiasm. Also, the plastic shroud that houses the start button is embarrassingly low rent. The Compass also has an acute lack of storage space in the center console, an issue that quickly became apparent on my long-haul drive. With refreshments holstered in its duet of cupholders there’s almost no space to put anything like a wallet or phone.

Fortunately, there are laudable elements to this Jeep’s interior. The front bucket seats didn’t immediately seem all that comfortable, but they proved to be tremendous on this road trip, supportive and properly ergonomic, which translates to few aches or pains even after hours of sustained driving.

The Compass provides decent backseat room, too, enough for even those that are relatively long of leg. An elevated lower cushion provides a theater-style seating position and better outward visibility for passengers in coach.

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