The 2017 Jeep Compass offers compact-SUV buyers a good-looking, comfortable-riding and surprisingly versatile option. From the base Sport model with its available manual transmission and 4-wheel drive, to the top-line Limited and its premium features, to the off-road-ready Trailhawk and its raised suspension and skidplate-armored undercarriage, the new Compass should definitely be on compact-SUV shoppers’ lists.
You'll Like The 2017 Jeep Compass If...
The new Jeep Compass is comfortable, roomy and surprisingly quiet out on the road. It also looks good, incorporating traditional Jeep styling cues like the 7-slot grille neatly onto a vehicle notably smaller than the Grand Cherokee. On top of it all, the Trailhawk models offer genuine off-road capability.
You May Not Like The 2017 Jeep Compass If...
There's no alternative to the somewhat anemic-feeling 180-horsepower engine in the Compass, while competitors like the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson offer turbocharged upgrades. Additionally, the 9-speed automatic was extremely slow to downshift.
Despite sharing a model year with the SUV it's replacing, the 2017 Jeep Compass is an all-new vehicle, built on the same basic underpinnings as the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Cherokee. With a new engine, significantly better interior, and much better features, it immediately goes from afterthought to top of mind.
If you've driven a Jeep in the past couple years, the Compass interior will be distinctly familiar. There are big vents flanking the dash's outer edge and the infotainment screen, comfortable seats for the front two passengers, controls easy to use and find, and the rear seat even accommodates tall passengers. The 4WD and various terrain modes are housed in a single knob-and-button arrangement that's conveniently in front of the gear selector. Trailhawk models have additional buttons for the low-range and hill-descent control. Cargo room is par for the class, accessible through an available powered hatch.
It's no coincidence that the 2017 Compass looks like a miniaturized Grand Cherokee. The strong family resemblance goes beyond headlights and general shape, with traditional Jeep cues like the 7-slot grille, boxed wheel arches and the shape of the greenhouse. The Compass has its share of cute hidden design elements, like the Loch Ness monster, hidden on the rear hatch glass, that will surprise and delight buyers. Limited models offer more chrome on the exterior to match its more upscale intent, while Trailhawk models double down on off-road ruggedness with increased ride height, skidplates, more rugged tires and a blackout anti-glare hood.
The 2017 Jeep Compass is built on the same underpinnings as the smaller Jeep Renegade and larger Jeep Cherokee, and it drives like a successful blend of the two. It offers the on-road quiet and comfortable ride of the Cherokee, but around town and in parking lots it feels more like the smaller and more nimble Renegade. The slow-shifting 9-speed automatic hampers power delivery from the 180-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, and we shut off the intrusive start/stop system. When the road turns, the Compass isn't as nimble as competitors like the Kia Sportage or even the Subaru Crosstrek. However, nothing can touch the Compass Trailhawk off road, thanks to its raised ride height, more rugged tires (including a full-size spare), skidplates, a special crawl mode that locks the transmission in first gear, an additional Rock mode in the 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system, and more.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base-model 2017 Jeep Compass Sport with front-wheel drive is $22,090, a notable jump from its predecessor, but a forgivable one considering that it has improved so much. Add about $2,500 if you want 4-wheel drive. The top-line Limited comes standard with 4WD and starts at about $30,000, while the Trailhawk is closer to a $29,500 starting price. Options add up, and a loaded Compass Limited will be somewhere around $35,000. A more reasonable option is the Latitude, which forgoes leather but offers many of the same advanced safety and tech features for a lower price than the Limited. Whatever you decide, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to find out what others in your area paid for their Compass. As for resale, the new Compass is too new to say for certain how well it will retain its value.
Base 2017 Compass Sport models come standard with front-wheel drive (FWD) and a 6-speed manual transmission. You'll also get air conditioning, 6-way manually adjusted cloth seats, push-button start, and tilt-telescope steering adjustments. One nice perk is that the front-passenger seat folds flat to accommodate long loads. All Compass models get multiple USB ports, including a rear charging port. The standard Uconnect system lacks support for Apple CarPlay and Android auto, but offers a 5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary inputs, and six speakers. Safety equipment includes multiple airbags, including a driver's knee airbag, a rearview camera, hill-start assist and trailer-sway control.
Perhaps most striking is that the Compass is available in both Sport and Latitude models with 4WD and a manual transmission, a rare combination in any vehicle these days. Latitude models also get other additional equipment: a choice of two infotainment system upgrades sporting larger screens and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, available dual-zone automatic climate control, and an optional Beats audio system with nine speakers and a subwoofer. Limited models get leather seating, the 8.5-inch Uconnect system and generally nicer interior trim. Options packages include a Technology Group that adds HID headlights, forward-collision warning and emergency braking, and lane-departure warning.
The Compass Trailhawk is a unique proposition in the compact-crossover SUV segment. With lifted ride height, a low-range setup -- not a 2-range transfer case, though -- and other mechanical and electronic tricks, it's far more capable in off-road situations than you might expect a car-based crossover SUV to be.
We already like the Uconnect system in various Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Fiat models, and this new version fixes what few complaints we had. It's far quicker, with a faster response to tapping the screen. And it finally incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Under the Hood
<span style="letter-spacing: 0px;">The only engine available for the Compass is a 180-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder powering either the front or all four wheels through a variety of transmissions. A 6-speed manual comes standard on all Sport models, and is available on 4WD Latitude models. If you want a front-wheel-drive Compass with an automatic, it's going to be a 6-speed, while 4WD models get the 9-speed automatic; all automatic-equipped Compasses get start/stop. Fuel economy is pretty good across the board, with manual FWD Compass models getting up to 32 mpg on the highway. The engine is smooth and quiet enough, but power is only adequate for an SUV that can weigh up to 3,600 pounds in Trailhawk form. Note that 4WD Compass models can tow up to 2,000 pounds.
180 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
175 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/32 mpg (FWD, manual), 22/31 mpg (4WD manual, FWD automatic), 22/30 mpg (4WD automatic)Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The new 2017 Jeep Compass is not the old 2017 Jeep Compass, and buyers looking for an affordable compact SUV should all be grateful. Based on the same underpinnings as the new Jeep Renegade and Jeep Cherokee, the all-new 2017 Compass does much more than clear the low bar of being better than its predecessor. It's a strong alternative to vehicles like the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Crosstrek and others. With only 180 horsepower the Compass won't win many drag races, but it is available with a rare combination of a manual transmission and 4-wheel drive, and not just on the base model. The Compass Trailhawk incorporates special features that make it surprisingly capable over terrain most people wouldn't even consider in a compact SUV.
If you want to read about the earlier (carried-over-from-2016) 2017 Jeep Compass, please read our 2016 Jeep Compass Expert Review.