The first-generation Compass debuted for the 2007 model year, with the current model on sale since 2017. The Compass received an exterior and cabin refresh for 2022, with the 2023 model updated with a 2L turbo four hooked up to a conventional eight-speed automatic transmission.
Only one powertrain, a 2L turbo four that sends power to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, is offered for 2023. This change has moved the Compass sharply upmarket compared to last year.
|Vehicle tested||Jeep Compass Altitude|
|Body style||Four-door crossover|
|Engine||2L-4 turbo (200 HP)|
|Base price||Altitude ($46,850)|
|Price as tested||$51,035 (includes Driver Assistance Group, Convenience Group and optional paint)|
|NRCan combined fuel economy||8.8L/100 km|
|Observed combined fuel economy||12.5L/100 km|
Though seven years old in 2023, ancient in design terms, the Compass has aged well. It is fronted by the trademark seven slot grille separated from the large lower air intake by small segment of body-coloured front fascia. Our Altitude trim, with black painted wheels and trim, lacks any bright accents.
Drivers face a single-pane, multi-configurable TFT gauge cluster of impressive visual clarity. A large, free-standing infotainment screen sits atop the centre of the dashboard. The bottom of the screen features a seven tab menu to access most menus-functions, but there are physical knobs for radio on-off-volume, tuning and fan speed and buttons for temperature, front and rear defrost, recirculation and air distribution. There are buttons for audio mute as well as turning off the screen, handy if you go to a drive-in movie. There is a deep bin with a wireless cellphone charge pad at the forward end of the console, which also houses two large cupholders and a deep storage bin under the sliding centre armrest. The interior is conservatively tasteful and assembled from attractive components. The Compass cabin gives off luxury class vibes, which is a good thing as our tester breached the $50,000 price threshold. The front seats feel squishy at first but prove comfortable enough over long periods at the wheel. Higher than typical ground clearance makes entering the Compass a bit of a struggle. The rear seat is supportive and legroom is ample. Rear passengers enjoy an air vent and USB ports that are mounted in the end of the centre console. The all-black cabin, including piano black trim elements and headliner, is a bit somber. Cargo space is deep below the window line.
The engine is a detuned variant of the engine that produces up to 270 horsepower in the Wrangler. The turbo emits a slightly raspy, but more endearing than annoying, soundtrack, is flexible and delivers strong acceleration. The conventional eight-speed automatic transmission upshifts smoothly, downshifts promptly and gets its job done without any drama. Steering is nicely weighted and geared and holds its line well on the highway. Handling is stable and ride is generally very good but can react harshly to surface imperfections like manhole covers taken at town speeds. Like other Fiat-era Stellantis designs, the Compass feels very solid.
The air-conditioner is strong and the non-branded audio system sounds very good.
The move upmarket may either hurt sales or reflect the current market forces where manufacturers feel they can abandon a strata of buyers who bring them less profit. The base Sport is reasonably equipped, including a forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking. Moving up to the North trim adds fog and cornering lights, a heated steering wheel, upgraded seat fabrics, deep-tint glass, roof rails, lit vanity mirrors and a variety of minor comfort and convenience items, at a fair price. The Altitude upgrade boasts WiFi, the Alexa vocal concierge, a black-painted roof, navigation, leather seating and a power driver’s seat, and is very good value. The Trailhawk proposes substantial off-road ability at the stroke of a pen, plus comfort and convenience features such as a power tailgate, rear parking sonar, blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors and dual-zone auto climate control, to make it good value if you want enhanced off-road performance. The Trailhawk Elite adds a tow package, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, ventilated front seats, a 360 degree camera system and a number of comfort and convenience features at a reasonable price. The Limited model is reasonably priced.
The Compass Altitude tested by the APA was a pleasant machine that is fully competitive with the higher-end versions of compact crossovers offered by other makers. However, its advanced age will make some potential buyers give it a pass and the sharp move upmarket this year will further limit its appeal and alienate owners of the previous-generation Compass which was an affordable, entry-level crossover vehicle.