Entry Price: $20,995
Price as Tested: $32,505

This week, we’re aboard the all-new 2017 Jeep Compass 4x4, a smaller size Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) that is known as “the small Grand Cherokee.” With roots back to the industry’s first-ever SUV, notably the 1949 Jeep Station Wagon 4x4, enthusiasts have much to cheer about with this new Compass. Overall, Compass for 2017 features a sleek front to rear design and inviting, roomy interior utilizing better quality fabrics and accessories.

Competing in an overcrowded compact size SUV market, Jeep’s Compass expands on its popularity thanks to inventive marketing and solid production of 4x2 and 4x4 vehicles.

Owned by everyone from 18-year-olds to senior citizens, the entry Compass Sport starts at just $20,995 in 4x2 Sport trim or $22,495 for the Sport 4x4. Our tester arrived in Latitude 4x4 trim, with a base of $24,295. Next in line is the Trailhawk 4x4 at $28,595 and the top line Limited 4x4 at $28,995.

For 2017, the 2.0-liter, 158 horse inline four has been dropped as all Compass models feature the bigger 2.4-liter, 180-horse, 175-torque Tigershark inline four. Transferring power to the ground is a nine-speed automatic ($1,500 more), or you can rely on the standard six-speed manual.

Overall, 4x4 Compass models deliver good EPA fuel mileage as the six-speed manual Sport comes in at 23 city and 32 highway while the Latitude, Trailhawk and Limited models with the nine-speed automatic produce 22 city and 30 highway. Compass Limited 4×4 also comes standard with the proven Selec-Terrain 4x4 system that manages traction to give you all-weather capability in four modes: Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud. It you want advanced 4x4 abilities, check out the Compass Trailhawk.

Latitude standard fare includes two-tone vinyl/cloth seating, 17-inch silver painted aluminum wheels, ParkView rear back-up camera, keyless entry and start, start/stop engine feature, deep tint glass, capless fuel filler, all the traction controls.

The seating is firm and the steering has a nice, firm feel to it. There’s also ample head and legroom room for rear passengers considering Compass is way smaller than a full size Cherokee. Leather seating is not available on the Latitude models.

Other notable items on Latitude’s standard list are rear fold flat seat, all the powers, six-speaker stereo AM/FM/MP3/Bluetooth, first and second row USB, tilt and telescopic steering, air, cruise and a leather steering wheel with audio controls.

Our tester came with a recommended $795 Safety and Security group that adds rear park assist, blind spot, cross path detection, rain sensitive wipers and a security alarm.

A $995 Navigation Group adds Uconnect, Sirius/XM and an 8.4-inch touchscreen with Apple/Google play capabilities. Considering most people use smartphones nowadays for directions and streaming, you might want to think twice about this feature. I’d like to see Jeep up the base price of Latitudes about $350 and add the sound/streaming features into the base price.

A Popular Entertainment group for $995 adds eight-way driver power seat with lumbar, remote start, automatic climate control, 115-volt auxiliary and a 7.0-inch driver info cluster. A Command View dual-plane panoramic sunroof adds $1,295, while special polished 17-inch Granite Pocket Aluminum wheels on Kumho tires add $595 while a compact (but really big) spare tire for $245 brings the final tally to $32,505 retail with a $1,095 destination included.

One major upgrade through the years and clearly evident on the all-new Compass is a much quieter interior and very solid feeling when you shut the doors. The four cylinder engine under full power still makes some noise, but the better insulation dampens engine noise and other outside decibels.

On the road, the 2.4 engine delivers good fuel mileage and performs adequately but won’t set any acceleration records. Additionally, if you add passengers and cargo, you’ll find that the Compass is underpowered at best. Perhaps in the future, Jeep will add a turbocharger to the 2.4 engine, which would immediately take care of this concern. On the bright side is comfortable ride, be it country road or turnpike.
Safety features are aplenty, with ABS four-wheel discs, fully independent suspension, all the air bags, and modern electronics that handle the stability control, parking brake, and roll mitigation. There’s much more your Jeep dealer is waiting to explain in detail.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.7-inches, 3,327 lb. curb weight, 2,000 lb. tow capacity, 13.5 gallon fuel tank, 8.2-inch ground clearance, and from 27.2 to 59.8 cu. ft. of cargo space.

Thanks to excellent product branding and outstanding consumer support, Jeep continues to build on its legendary status as the premier SUV in America. The new “little Grand Cherokee” 2017 Compass offers Jeep dependability at a low entry price and should be on your test drive list if shopping this segment.

Likes: New design, Jeep ancestry, better MPG.
Dislikes: Engine could use a turbo, not much else.

— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and other GateHouse Media publications. He welcomes reader questions at greg@gregzyla.com.