Archive for February 24th, 2017|Daily archive page

2017 Jeep Compass car preview / test drive and video

We spent a day driving the 2017 Jeep Compass Limited around San Antonia, and taking the new Compass Trailhawk around an intricate off-road course, both of which displayed the versatility of this sharp, new compact Jeep.

The new Compass both looks and performs like a small Grand Cherokee, in our testing over both the off-road course and a few hundred miles of on-road driving which included flooded, washed-out roads from thunderstorms which pounded the area the day before we arrived.

My 2017 Jeep Compass for the on-road portion of the drive was a Limited, which came with standard four wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic transmission; all American Compasses have the 2.4L Tigershark engine with 180 horsepower and 175lb-ft of torque. The Limited is the top of the line in luxury features, and when you add on the optional Advanced Tech Group, Dual Pane Sunroof and Beats Sound System, this midsized Jeep has everything that you could want from a vehicle of this size with its $34,260 price tag (as equipped). I didn’t find that is was lacking in any category.

Our drive started on urban highways, but as the morning went on, we were driving the new Compass on back roads which got progressively tighter and curvier. On the wide open Texas highways, the Compass has as smooth and comfortable a ride as the Grand Cherokee. It doesn’t pack Hemi power, but the new 2017 Jeep Compass still feels like it has plenty of power – it just won’t satisfy your need for speed like the Hemi-powered Grand Cherokee. It will, however, comfortably allow the midsized Jeep to keep up with fast-moving highway traffic.

When we got onto the tight back roads, the 2017 Compass Limited proved to be a worthy adversary for the twisties. The steering provided a solid amount of feedback for a midsized SUV, and the system was responsive when cutting through areas which required me to cut back and forth on the wheel.

This isn’t a vehicle that you are going to buy to go road racing, but we were able to cruise through the rural Texas roads with ease.

Some of these roads cut around and through huge farms, with odd switchback turns, livestock around every turn, and several areas where the road was covered in more than a foot of water. The new Compass made for a great highway cruiser, but more importantly, this smooth-riding SUV was able to easily cross the flooded roadways. The Limited isn’t intended for serious off-road use, but if you should come across a hazardous situation like a washed out or flooded road, it’s sure footed and confident.

While driving the 2017 Compass Limited across Texas for some three hours, I also enjoyed the comfortable leather driver’s seat, the open-air quality of the huge panoramic sunroof, and the sound quality of the Beats Sound System. Opening the sunroof and cranking up the sound system cuts down on the tranquility, but it makes for one fun little SUV in which to cruise through the countryside.

Off-Road with the Compass Trailhawk

For the off-road course, I moved into a new Compass Trailhawk; as the name suggests, this is the “Trail Rated” trim for the new midsized Jeep, adding unique wheels and tires, a suspension which has this Compass sitting an inch higher than the Limited, and fascias changed for improved approach and descent angles. There is also a “Rock” drive mode which improves the Compass’ ability to creep through the roughest terrain.

The previous Jeep Compass was often criticized for being a “mall crawler” that few took off-roading because it wasn’t off-road capable [we did take that perception on]. The Jeep team addressed that with the 2017 Compass, working to make this midsized SUV as capable in rough terrain as the other smaller Jeeps, and more capable than anything else in the segment. Some people will continue to criticize it for not being an extreme enough off-road vehicle, but it is the most off-road friendly vehicle in the segment.

To illustrate this point, we spent the afternoon piloting a 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk through a grueling off-road course which contained deep ditches, steep inclines and declines, thick mud, and an assortment of rocky paths. We got to experience the new Compass in every key off-road setting, with the exception of loose sand.

With the new Compass set to Rock mode and 4 Low, our group of SUVs easily made out way up the narrow dirt paths and over some humps which were severe enough to get the back wheels 4 feet off the ground. The suspension setup did a fine job of providing control of the vehicle, even when more than one wheel was off of the ground, with the Jeep four wheel drive system constantly transferring power to the wheels that were on the ground.

The only point at which the new Compass broke a sweat was when climbing the steepest inclines with the loosest footing. I found myself asking for power as the wheels spun, but the midsized Jeep was able to climb to the top in every situation. It also stormed through mud that was at least 18 inches deep before crossing a path of large, smooth rocks.

Many of the people who buy a Jeep, even a Wrangler, do not spend a world of time off-roading. Jeep didn’t engineer this vehicle to be a beast in the woods, as they know that owners will rack up far more miles on paved roads, but the point of this off-road exercise was to show what the new Compass can do for those who want the most out of their midsized Jeep.

More importantly, the off-roading abilities of the new Compass Trailhawk – coupled with the ability of the Compass Limited to deal with the rain-flooded roads – will allow someone who has no interest in off-roading to approach a hazardous driving situation with confidence. The Compass will providing off-roading fun, but it will also allow a small family to get through an area of flooded roadways and back to their nice, dry homes. By making the Compass a great off-roading vehicle that is also a great on-road driver, Jeep has created one of the most versatile midsized SUVs on the market today.

The Compass Limited is a great midsized SUV for someone who wants the premium feel of the Grand Cherokee in a smaller, less expensive and more efficient SUV while the Compass Trailhawk is perfect for the midsized Jeep buyer who wants to be able to drive it to work every day and drive it through rough woods every weekend.

The 2017 Compass looks good inside and out, but it also drives great on-road and off – giving Jeep one more option in a booming midsized SUV segment.

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