By on April 9, 2018

2017 Jeep Compass front quarter

2017 Jeep Compass Limited 4x4

2.4-liter inline-four, DOHC (180 hp @ 6000 rpm, 175 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm)

Nine-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive

22 city / 30 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

23.2 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $30,090 (USD)

As Tested: $34,955 (USD)

Prices include $1095 freight charge.

I’m certainly an outcast among automotive journalists. So many in this line of work absolutely fetishize the Jeep brand. Mottos like “It’s A Jeep Thing, You Wouldn’t Understand” and “If You Can Read This, Roll Me Over” flow through reviews and tweets like a lifted CJ on thirty fives. I’ve never really seen the appeal. I’m a suburbanite to the bone and, as such, I’ve never had the need or desire to take a vehicle off-road.

My first experiences with Jeeps came as a service writer, where I’d drive a vehicle to try and better relay handling problems to the tech. Every Jeep I drove was a loose-steering, ill-handling pig. Of course, in that job I was always driving vehicles that needed work, but the pride of Toledo always seemed particularly nasty on the tarmac.

Jeep was listening, it seems, as it has begun offering a variety of car-based crossovers that are pavement rated. Take this 2017 Jeep Compass Limited — the big 19 inch alloys with low-profile tires make the intended path quite clear. Has the essence of Jeepness become eroded, or can this Compass point the way forward?

2017 Jeep Compass front

Let’s get the big stuff out of the way — it’s not built in Toledo. Indeed, the Compass is built on a platform shared with the Fiat 500X and Jeep Renegade in Toluca, Mexico. I’m not here to debate NAFTA or anything like that — though I’m sure it will pop up in the comments — but the Buckeye in me weeps a bit when an iconic Ohio nameplate is built elsewhere.

As an avowed lover of all that is old-school, I’m thrilled that two-tone paint schemes are slowly making their way back into vogue. Sure, the Compass here has the black finish restrained to the pillars and roof rails, but it’s a compelling look. Forget the “floating roof” trend with a flash of black on a crossover’s D-pillar — from the profile view, the roof simply hides, and the bright upper window trim is most prominent.

2017 Jeep Compass profile

Really, there are only a few ways to make a blocky crossover look different from every other blocky crossover out there, and Jeep nailed it. I might prefer the seven-slot grille trim be body colored (rather than roof colored) and that the sensors for the forward collision warning system be more centrally located, rather than offset to the passenger side of the lower grille, but overall this is an inoffensively styled commuter that will age much better than the first-generation Compass.

2017 Jeep Compass rear

The interior works similarly well, with a single reservation. Since the driver sits relatively high and upright in the Compass, the HVAC controls are placed rather low on the console, which requires the eyes to stray too far from the windscreen to adjust. The 8.5-inch UConnect screen takes up so much real estate in the relatively narrow Compass cabin that the climate controls end up as an afterthought. I found that I was most comfortable setting the controls to automatic, usually setting the passenger temp seven degrees higher for my frigid wife, and leaving all else alone.

2017 Jeep Compass center stack

HVAC controls are available through the touchscreen, as well, but I’d rather not tap through menus to control the fan speed. A properly located knob is important.

2017 Jeep Compass interior

That big UConnect screen controls one of the best infotainment systems I’ve ever encountered. Seven (certainly keyed to the iconic seven-slot grille!) quick links to preferred applications populate the bottom of the screen, and can easily be changed to the drivers’ most commonly used functions. All of the controls are thoughtfully laid out and simple to use.

2017 Jeep Compass infotainment

The plastics used throughout are rather hard, giving a sense of cheapness that betrays the near-$35k sticker price for this upmarket trim. The leather seating surfaces, similarly, don’t match the asking price, though the contrasting copper-colored stitching is at least attractive. The seats themselves were surprisingly comfortable, with adjustable lumbar support relieving me after a long drive.

2017 Jeep Compass front seats

The beauty of the upright seating position is the legroom revealed in the second row. My growing kids had plenty of room in the rear, without errant knees pressing into my back. Thank also the relatively long 103.8-inch wheelbase within the short 173-inch overall length, which prioritizes both passenger space and short overhangs for off-road clearances.

2017 Jeep Compass rear seats

I didn’t attempt driving this Compass Limited off the paved trails beyond this relatively flat grassy area near the river for my photos. I’ve no doubt it will perform well on maintained paths or nasty snow, but the combination of a low-hanging front air dam and the 19-inch wheels (with 235/45-19 tires!) means this road-focused trim will not be happy where the “proper” Jeeps (or even the Compass Trailhawk) go to play. On-road, I was pleased with how quietly and competently this Compass handled commuting. It’s soft and compliant, with few road imperfections making their way into the cabin with anything more than a muted thump.

2017 Jeep Compass center stack

It’s easy to avoid those potholes when not driving quickly, though, since the Compass isn’t exactly a speed demon. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder ekes out 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, which means acceleration is leisurely at best for this roughly 3,600-pound crossover. The nine-speed automatic doesn’t help, as it’s occasionally reluctant to kick down to a lower ratio when called upon for acceleration. At highway speeds, the transmission was fine — I never noticed any hunting between the four overdrive ratios when cruising — but getting up to speed isn’t as effortless as some competitors.

I’m finally warming to the idea of a Jeep as a daily driver. I still can’t see myself climbing into a Wrangler every day, especially as my knees and my rapidly greying beard remind me of my advancing years, but this Compass is a lovely compromise between everyday use and all-weather capability. For once, this is a Jeep thing I understand.

2017 Jeep Compass rear quarter

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn]

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62 Comments on “2017 Jeep Compass Limited Review – Jeepness Distilled for Suburbia...”

  • avatar

    it’s a really good looking little CUV. I think they still need to work on the engines a bit the 2.4 isn’t as bad as people say but it’s getting old and not up to some of the competition.

    • 0 avatar

      Isn’t FCA/Jeep rolling out a new 2.0 turbo? I’d expect that to replace the 2.4.

      • 0 avatar

        The 2.4L continues as the base engine in the Cherokee, the 2.0T is the top engine option. Should the 2.0T be offered in the Compass in the future, it’ll be an upgrade and or only in uplevel/performance trim.

    • 0 avatar

      I find 2.4 adequate in my lady’s Renegade. It can be thirsty if you have zero discipline with the throttle, but I can eek out 26 mpg around town if I want to. I don’t think that’s bad for a very upright 4 wheel drive vehicle. No, it’s not a powerhouse, but I fail to see who really needs big power in this kind of vehicle.

      This platform is also a nice driver. Steering is firm and direct, suspension soaks up all but the worst bumps.

  • avatar


    I understand what you meant, but calling your wife frigid is rather inelegant. Calling her cold-blooded is little better, as I’m sure you didn’t marry a reptile.
    About the Jeep – looks nice and my stiff old joints could use a vehicle with easier ingress/egress.

  • avatar

    The fan knob is 2” around and is directly in the center of the control panel— protruding an inch away from the other buttons. Feel around for it.

    The clitoris is harder to find.

  • avatar

    “means this road-focused trim will not be happy where the “proper” Jeeps (or even the Compass Trailhawk) go to play.”

    The Fast Lane Car took a trail rated Compass TrailHawk (and Renegade Trailhawk) off road on some very serious trails and both did astoundingly well.

    As for the climate control complaints, yes there are a complete set of redundant controls in the uConnect screen and it’s a complete misrepresentation of the uConnect system to say:

    “but I’d rather not tap through menus to control the fan speed.”

    It’s literally two taps on the screen. Tap “climate” on the bottom of the screen and then either use the fan up or fan down to adjust. Extremely easy

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Nice review, Chris.

    Thirty-five grand for a Compass. I don’t care what the equipment level is, the downmarket cost-bitten reek of the prior generation hasn’t worn off yet.

    This is truly a sign that sedans are dead. That’s loaded AWD Fusion Titanium territory *before inevitable discounts*, or Camry XSE V6/loaded Accord 2.0T if you’re not obsessed with having AWD paired to your 19-inch rubber band tires. All of which have a real power:weight ratio and plenty of people space and civility.

    The auto market is nutters.

  • avatar

    That interior – could they have found some more colors to put in there? Even something like color-matching the vent surrounds to the copper trim, or exterior color or something. It’s dark, and everything looks cheap and pulled tight as possible (read: badly aging leather incoming).

    Not a fan of the engine either, so the only saving grace to this thing is the comfort and the exterior looks.

    But not for $35k.

    • 0 avatar

      Of course, that’s a ridiculous sticker price, but this is FCA. Mark ’em up so you can mark ’em down and convince the buyer it’s the Deal Of The Century.

  • avatar

    I HATE that offset sensor in the lower front bumper.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not a sensor. That’s the cover for where the drag hook gets attached for towing.

      Or rather, recovery when trying to drag the car out of a sinkhole or up a steep embankment.

  • avatar

    Is there anything that still uses 75R16s? When it comes to sidewalls, I like to get down with the thiccness.

    • 0 avatar

      Given that potholed midwest roads are sung to the tune “Boulevard of Broken Rims” I totally agree with your sidewall love.

      • 0 avatar

        it’s been nothing short of 3-rd world tier in the ol’ Circle City indifan and I’m sure you’ve experienced yourself. I’m actually glad I sold my ’03 Pilot (with quite meaty sidewalls mind you) and am back into an old Ranger with its beefy twin-I-beam front end. Not exactly a smooth ride, but I don’t have to cringe worrying about damaging it.

    • 0 avatar

      Frontier Pro-4X.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If I ever buy a Jeep, it will be this new Compass, although I’d spend a lot less. I’d even consider (prefer) the FWD version with 6-spd automatic.

  • avatar

    2017?? It’s a 2018!

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      Nope. There were two different 2017 Compasses. Doesn’t make sense, but this is indeed a 2017 model.

  • avatar

    My guess is the front sensor is offset for the states with a front mounted license plate.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I think this works as a stripped down Latitude trim with a manual transmission, for 20-22k with FCA cash on the hood. Now that Forester is CVT only this may get some traction with some folks.

    • 0 avatar

      I too can see the appeal of a no/low option version for those folks who have absolutely need 4×4 and who have to deal with rugged terrain on a fairly steady basis.

      I don’t know if it is still possible to build one this way but when the current gen Compass was introduced it was possible to build a manual transmission model with heated cloth seats and a heated steering wheel. Make mine olive green with tan interior.

      It would be cheap and cheerful the way CJs/Wranglers used to be before they became fashion statements.

  • avatar

    I have 2018 Compass Trailhawk, factory weathertech style mats, contrasting stitching in the leather and various red trim bits really improve the interior. I also have the full glass roof which really makes it fill airy. My transmission seems to kick down quickly, but I’m getting less than 20mpg on my mostly city sitting in traffic driving. After a few days the big climate control knobs become muscle memory and it’s no big deal them being so low. If you can skip leather and the glass roof, a latitude nicely equipped can be had for around 25, which makes far more sense than a limited or Trailhawk at 35k..

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Have you taken your Trailhawk off pavement yet, and if so how does it do? It’s the most interesting variant of this vehicle to me, though the base manual transmission trim is a unique offering as well.

      • 0 avatar

        Haven’t taken it off road yet, but have taken it through some major snow this winter and it seemed great. Felt less likely to slip than the full size range rover it replaced. A lot of that my be the A/T tires..

  • avatar

    Unless it’s being blown out the door for an absolutely cut-rate price like the old Patriot, what’s the point? I can buy any number of other sub-compact or compact crossovers that have higher predicted reliability and are massively better at retaining value. On the low-end of the price-scale I’d point to the Outlander Sport as a worthy competitor, or if space is the priority then a Rogue (or fullsize Outlander). At the higher prices you’re into Escapes, CRVs, Foresters, etc.

    I would absolutely take a nicely equipped Forester FXT over this high-trim variant if the stated MSRP really does have any meaning. While we’re at it, I’d buy a 4Runner SR5 and have real offroad capability and durability and reliability and resale (obviously different class size-wise and MPG).

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “While we’re at it, I’d buy a 4Runner SR5”

      Being a 4Runner SR5 owner, I immediately had the same thought but didn’t want to write it. Horses for courses, yes, but the Jeep is an immensely poor value in that comparison. The thought of making the same payment on this Jeeplet just depresses me.

      • 0 avatar

        Heck, even within Jeep’s own lineup for similar MSRP you can pick up a Cherokee Trailhawk V6. This Compass price is just nothing short of insane.

        • 0 avatar

          The Cherokee Trailhawk is now about 40k. Almost every CUV is bad deal at the highest trims. If you control yourself and get a latitude and not a trailhawk or limited it’s a pretty nice place to be. It is pretty much the only CUV that has ground clearance and any real off capability.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m seeing an MSRP of $33,320 for a V6 Cherokee Trailhawk (before options).

            I’d contend that a Outlander Sport on the low end and a Forester on the high end (pricewise) come pretty close in terms of capability (although ultimately lacking Jeep’s BLD effectiveness), but at least mostly match the Compass’s clearance and geometry. In many cases all three are constrained by gearing issues, exacerbated by traction control systems.

    • 0 avatar

      lol….Toyota has no clue how to do a proper off roader.

      This thing would absolutely kill a 4Runner off road.

    • 0 avatar

      I think this aims at a different market then the 4runner. Honestly for the cash I would buy a 4runner too (actually I would get a unlimited wrangler).
      But these are aimed at people who want a smaller cheaper grand cherokee. And considering how well the last compass sold to the same people I think you will see plenty on the road just not many in super high trims.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh I get that it points to a different market, it’s just fun to compare vehicles with similar MSRPs at diametric ends of the retained-value spectrum. There’s actually one of these that popped up in my neighborhood in this ’19 inch wheeled trim no less. But I suspect you’re right, most will be mid-trim vehicles sold at a fire-sale discount ($18-22k range).

        • 0 avatar

          I actually bought one. These aren’t going to fire sale. They can just steer you to the more base trim, these start at 21k. Was able to get more off a CRV and RAV than this. The Crosstrek and this were both about 10% off max with negotiating. The biggest problem this truck has is that they called it a compass. It deserved not to be saddled with the stink of the old one.

          • 0 avatar

            I’m genuinely curious, how did you decide on the Compass? Features for the price point? Capability? Styling?

            As others have mentioned, strictly from a utility/engineering perspective, it seems like not such a compelling design. Smaller and less roomy yet mediocre MPG, historically poor resale and middling at best reliability. I don’t mean to slag your purchase and it sounds like you’re generally happy with the car and that’s what matters at the end of the day. But I think a lot of us have the same questions on our minds and it’s interesting to get an actual recent buyer’s perspective on how they saw the field of competition stack up.

          • 0 avatar

            @GTEM . I have four other vehicles, an International Scout I restored, a Range Rover Classic that I built into probably the best unrestored one in the US, in the middle of swapping in a larger modified engine on it, a nice little MGB with chrome bumpers an weber carb, overdrive, leather, all poly bushings, and a Ducati Sport 1000s.
            I pretty much only drive a modern car in the winter or when it’s raining and have a short commute. I put 8-10k a year on my modern ride. I wanted something smaller and less fancy to replace my 2004 Range Rover. I am in an urban area and have a spot in a large garage. It had less than 80k miles but I was tired of terrible mileage, it was way too big and maintenance is very expensive. I tend to work on stuff myself but I don’t really enjoy modern stuff.
            I rented a crosstrek when I took my father golfing and thought I could deal with something it’s size. Since I decided to lease resale value is not a huge deal. I wanted a panoramic roof, leather, heated seats, heated steering wheel, and remote start. Styling is a little important, so that pretty much threw out hyundai and kia, plus I have never a single rental of either I didn’t hate, the Rav4, Escape, and CRV are too mall crawler, the crosstrek didn’t have the heated wheel or panoramic sunroof. I do have a softspot for Jeep since I’ve owned few in the past, I couldn’t get past the those Cherokee headlights, I liked Renegade, but it has a tiny cargo area and loaded the way I wanted costs as much as the new Compass which had more stuff bigger uconnect etc. The compass had great seats, is good looking, and has big backseat so I am pretty happy. Obviously the interior didn’t touch the Range Rover it replaced, but I think it’s very good everything seems soft and high quality. Was in an Uber Equinox and that seem full of hard plastic. Actually the plastic in the Subaru interior wasn’t very good either.

  • avatar

    Took a look on looks like you can grab a limited or trail hawk for just under 30k.
    This one includes all the typical dealer incentives but my guess is you would still walk out in the 25-26k range for what will likely be the bulk seller Lattitude with heated seats etc

  • avatar

    It weighs 100lbs more than a CR-V, yet it’s 8 inches shorter. Maybe stop using platform from weight-based Euro compliant countries?

    Anyway, it is sad that we are discovering the packaging advantages of upright seating just as space-efficient packaging is being outlawed by CAFE.

    • 0 avatar
      Trucky McTruckface

      Weighs more than a CR-V, smaller than a CR-V, worse mileage than a CR-V, and as tested costs the same as a fully loaded AWD CR-V Touring. Granted, being a non-Wrangler Jeep, I’m going to the actual transaction price will be much lower, as well as the resale and reliability.

      How bad do you have to want “Jeep” on the hood to make such a poor compromise?

  • avatar

    Is this as desirable as a Jeep Cherokee? It has the same powertrain, the same fuel economy but a smaller tank. Thus fuel stops are more frequent. I suppose it has a smaller cargo area too. Depending on how the vehicle is optioned the price isn’t much, if any, lower.

    About the only advantage is a slightly smaller footprint, for instance if more room is needed in the garage or the buyer has preference for the slightly shorter body. Width is still roughly the same, though, which to me is a determining measure in maneuverability. (This seems to be the case of some of the smaller crossovers when compared to the big brethren.)

    I just looked at some recently added comments above, some other posters have given similar thoughts.

  • avatar

    Marginally larger than the Renegade;
    Marginally more aerodynamic than the Renegade;
    Looks too much like the Grand Cherokee, just shrunken.

    Would probably make a nice front end for a compact pickup, though.

  • avatar

    I just rented this exact same model and trim level last weekend.
    Here’s a short review and a comparison to my 2014 Prius.

    Technology has gone a long way in the past 4-5 years. The Compass is full of electronic goodies that I wish my Prius had, including a brilliant large screen, Apple CarPlay, good sound system, blind spot detection, good quality backup camera, better navigation system, etc.
    However the lane keep assist seemed to be non operational. I tested it multiple times on the highway under good visibility conditions and it never seemed to be doing anything, even after setting it more to max sensitivity in the settings.
    It was also very frustrating that the seat heating and the steering wheel heating turned on automatically every time I started the car and it takes digging into the menus to turn them off. I tried to turn of this automatic feature, but I couldn’t find the setting for it.

    The Compass drives pretty well, it’s reasonably quiet, but I got a lot of wind noise coming in from next to my left ear, even when the window was all the way up.

    The engine is lethargic and the transmission makes it appear even worse. In comparison, my 2014 Prius with the CVT feels much more spirited, pedal response is more direct and smoother. I know it sounds crazy, and that will just about tell the story of how bad the Compass’ drive train is.
    Although it may not matter to most people, the fuel consumption of the Compass seemed to be about twice of what I would get in the Prius on the highway. The digital gauge showed about 25-26 MPG at 75 MPH, while my Prius gets 50 MPG at the same speed. In the city the Prius is likely much better than even that.

    Another big disappointment is the trunk space. This is an SUV and people think that automatically means larger storage space. Think again. I drove my Prius to the airport, heading to my destination, and my suitcase fit easily longways into the trunk. In fact, I could have laid 2 of them side by side in the trunk. After arriving to my destination, I attempted to put the same suitcase the same way into the trunk of the rental Compass and it didn’t fit longways. It was close, but the door would just not close. The Prius’ trunk was about 1 inch longer than the Compass’. I had to turn the luggage 90 degrees, sideways, to fit. In the Compass I wouldn’t have been able to lay 2 of them side by side in any configuration.

    All in all, the Compass was better than what I expected, mostly because of the tech and the comfort of the seats, but if I wanted a larger car, I’d go for a larger SUV, maybe a Grand Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe the heated seat and wheel come on at an outside temperature of about 43°F although it might be set at something like 37°F or so. You’d have to dive through a 250-400 page owner’s manual to find the specific control, if there is one. My wife, however, loves it in automatic mode.

    • 0 avatar

      How ’bout we go out for a drag race; your rented Compass and my two-year-old Renegade with the same engine/tranny option? Let’s see just how “lethargic” it really is.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    I’d be curious to know why Fiasler didn’t bother to center the rear wheel within its fender well?

    I tend to notice oddball things like that, but once it’s seen…

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