FITTING IN: 2020 JEEP COMPASS
In life, you have your ‘in’ crowd and your ‘odd’ crowd – but those in between, they’re just trying to survive. Such is the case for the Jeep Compass. It wasn’t that long ago it was the compact crossover of choice when it came to joining the Jeep family. Now stuck between the sub-compact Renegade and the compact-ish Cherokee, the Compass has hit a magnetic field that has found itself lost and we no longer see where it really fits in.
As the Cherokee and Renegade have both been updated over the last couple of years with new engines and restructured transmissions, the Compass is, well, still jiving the same ole tune. A Multi-Air 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine is the only power option here with 180-horsepower and 175lb-ft of torque kickin-it. Entry level models such as the Sport and Latitude feature a standard 6-speed manual transmission with the option to upgrade to a $1500 6-speed automatic. The Trailhawk, Limited and High Altitude models all come standard with the ever-so-frustrating, 9-speed automatic. With our tester carrying the Limited badge, we kept aspirin on hand for what was about to come.
With just over 9.5 seconds to 60 mph, it isn’t exactly the most sophisticated component when it comes to hastening driving. Stuck to old habits, the transmission, is far too eager in up shifting its gears and struggles to downshift to find the right gear when we call upon its power displacement. All models apart from the North Edition and Trailhawk come standard in front-wheel drive with the option to add four-moving wheels for $1500 more. 4X4 equipped models derives with a Select-Terrain System that can allow the driver to choose from Snow, Mud, Sand, and Auto. Auto leaves the Compass as a front-wheel drive crossover that will sort out the terrain, should one leave the pavement.
Keeping to our city life ways, the most dirt we saw was the dust from the garage. With an average of 20-mpg, we didn’t even come close to the EPA rated 25-mpg combined rating and after a short 200 miles, we found ourselves parked outside the gas pumps. On the surface, the ride and handling are composed well providing a fairly comfortable driving setting. The electrically boosted steering is light and easily controllable with roughly some lifeform from behind the wheel.
Slightly smaller than the Cherokee but slightly bigger then the Renegade, there is adequate size when it comes to passenger comfort and volume. Rear occupants have decent legroom and with the rear seats folded, it does what a crossover does best. The interior is nothing to get excited about with a large 8-inch Uconnect touch-screen display in the center and buttons on the dash to control the automatic climate settings. Styled to handle rough elements, fit and finish materials are okay, but only just that.
Where we start to see the blurred line of where the Compass really fits in, is the price. A Renegade Sport front-wheel drive starts at $22,275 and can climb up to a near $33,000 for the High Altitude 4X4. An entry Cherokee Latitude front-wheel drive starts at $25,935 and finishes off near $41,500 for a Trailhawk Elite 4X4. While the Compass may start a whole $100 less than the Renegade at $22,105, our sampled Limited with four-wheel drive started out at $30,100 and topped out at $39,130 with nearly every single option selected. Ooooooouuuch.
That isn’t to say our sampled Limited wasn’t an amusing crossover, incorporated with a leather interior, huge panoramic sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, upgraded LED headlights, and the advance safety equipment it featured all the right elements of a premium product. However, with the Renegade and Cherokee both being superior options that incorporate a newly fantastic engineering performance arrangement, we struggle to see where the Compass fits in with the Jeep family.
Model: 2020 JEEP COMPASS
Starting Price: $29,905
As Tested: $39,130
Color: REDLINE PEARL-COAT
Engine: 2.4-LITER ZERO EVAP MULTI-AIR FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 180-HORSEPOWER / 175 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 9-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE W/ MULT-TERRAIN SELECT
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 22-CITY / 30-HWY / 25-COMBINED
AS TESTED: 20.0 MPG COMBINED
Fuel Range: 250 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±9.5 SECONDS
Photos provided by Fiat Chrysler of America