On the exterior, the Compass is somewhat attractive -- including that instantly recognizable seven-slotted grille. It’s not a pretentious or particularly fancy look -- it looks like a Jeep, which Jeep fans will like.
Inside treatments range anywhere from very basic on the intro trim, up to comfy and slightly upscale on the Limited model. Options on higher trims include leather-trim bucket seats, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, remote start (excellent on cold, icy mornings), and push-button start. A power liftgate is also offered.
This is a compact crossover, so don’t expect a ton of room. Front seats are comfy but a bit snug, and rear seats offer some leg and head room but are a bit tight for taller adults. The Compass works to transport the family on shorter trips, but it’s not a road-trip vehicle. Storage space is decent (27 cubic feet with back seats up; 60 cubic feet with them down).
One minor concern: There is limited space up front for driver to store items like keys, wallet and phone.
HOW’S THE RIDE?
The 2018 Jeep Compass is powered by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that offers 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque; paired usually with an automatic transmission (6- or 9-speed). A manual transmission is offered on the base Sport trim level, which will be popular among the crowd who prefer to handle the shifting.
The Compass I tested was front-wheel drive; but AWD is also offered. And a Trailhawk version of the Compass is available if you want legitimate off-road capability, something deeply embedded in the Jeep name.
Probably my biggest disappointment in driving the Compass was the lack of get-up-and-go when you need to get moving. It’s frustrating on the main roads but especially bothersome on the freeway when you really need to get up to speed.
This lack of power is something that Jeep should address in future versions of the Compass, and will be its biggest deterrent among potential buyers who may be drawn in by the more positive aspects of the Compass.
On the plus side, once you do get going, the handling is impressive, the ride is somewhat smooth, road noise is minimal, and it’s responsive to driver input.
I give the 2018 Jeep Compass high marks all around for its technology and safety features.
Infotainment system is now featuring the excellent UConnect system, which remains one of the most user-friendly systems in the automotive world and is displayed on a large 8.4-inch touchscreen. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay mirroring of your smartphone are also now possible, keeping up with the industry’s leaders in connectivity.
The Advanced Safety and Lighting group ($895) offers: LED tail lamps, HID headlamps, LaneSense lane departure warning, Full speed forward collision warning plus advanced brake assist.
The Safety and Security group (available for a reasonable $745) offers: ParkSense rear park assist system, blind spot and rear cross path detection, and rain-sensitive intermittent wipers.
All of these features are helpful in keeping you safe on the roadways, and somewhat affordable too.
The optional Navigation system worked excellently, and input of information is easy via both touchscreen and voice commands. A backup camera is large and clear on the center screen. The Compass also comes with a year subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.
Rollover rating is three out of five stars; Side crash rating in front and rear seats is 5/5 stars. Frontal crash rating is four stars, as is the overall vehicle test score.
A Beats premium audio system is offered as an option, and does not disappoint if you’re a music lover, especially on the low end.
Official fuel mileage numbers on the Compass front-wheel drive I tested are 22 city/31 highway/25 combined. In real life, my numbers couldn’t even reach that high. Compared to other vehicles in its segment, the Compass definitely struggles in the fuel mileage arena.
PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
The Jeep Compass Limited that I tested was priced at $33,655; But the Compass has a base price starting about $21K. Limited model starts at $27,595 before options.
While it’s not going to be the go-to vehicle for everyone in the segment, especially if you’re looking for power, the updated 2018 Jeep Compass has other strong aspects -- such as its tech features, options for off-road capability and low starting price -- that will sway some crossover buyers into its camp.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.