For proof of our insatiable appetite for crossovers, look no further than the current Jeep Compass which is coming to India in a few months time.
The 2017 Compass is based on a stretched version of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles small-wide 4x4 architecture that also underpins the Jeep Renegade. With a wheelbase and overall length of 103.8 and 173 inches, respectively, the new Compass sits smack dab in between the Renegade and the Cherokee. Under the hood is a carbon copy of the Renegades powertrain-a 2.4-liter I-4 that also makes 180 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. Front-drive versions come standard with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed auto, and the Compass 4x4 is paired with a nine-speed automatic.
Jeep is offering the 2017 Compass in four trim levels-Sport, Latitude, Limited, and the off-road ready Trailhawk(which is not coming to India). The Compass Latitude will likely command a bulk of the sales, so we spent most our time with this model equipped with all-wheel drive and the nine-speed auto. When we tested a Renegade 4x4 with the same powertrain combo, it needed 9 seconds to run from 0 to 60 mph. The larger and heavier Compass 4x4 will likely need more time-we guesstimate a 0-60-mph jaunt closer to 10 seconds, and that is certainly how it felt behind the wheel.
Compounding the Compass poky pace is the transmission's propensity to favor and hold on to higher gears, even long after mashing the go pedal. Tweaking the gearbox's software for better responsiveness would help here (and so would an additional 20 hp and 20 lb-ft of engine output). Tow capacity maxes out at 2,000 pounds.
On the upside, the Compass 4x4 with the nine-speed auto returns relatively good fuel economy with an EPA rating of 22/30 mpg city/highway, which is actually 1 mpg better (city and highway) than a similar Renegade. Features helping the Compass sip fuel efficiently include stop-start technology (not available on Renegade) and the 4x4's ability to decouple the rear axle during low load conditions.
Suspension consists struts at all four corners withself-adjusting dampersthat work as advertised, smoothing out road imperfections while keeping body roll at bay through the corners. Steering is on par with the segment-slightly numb with little feedback, though accurate and responsive.
Inside, the rear passenger area boasts plenty of leg and headroom and the cargo area is decent as well, providing 27.2 cubic feet of storage (increasing to 59.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down). Jeep says the Compass is the first to get the next-generation UConnect infotainment system, which showcases a brighter and sharper screen that is quick to respond to swipe-and-pinch inputs, much like a smartphone (the 2017 Compass Limiteds interior is shown below). Other tech highlights include the availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and a long list of driver and safety assistance features including lane keeping assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.
Compared to the Renegade, the Compass sports a more upscale look inside and out. Comparisons to the fancy Grand Cherokee should be common, thanks to the extensive use of exterior chromelike accents and an available blacked-out roof. The Compass doesn't have as many fun Easter eggs as the Renegade (from our unofficial count), but there are a few.
With the new 2017 Compass, the bottom of Jeeps lineup is clearer and more competitive. More power would be welcome, but the Compass overall package should make it a segment standout.