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2017-2018 Jeep Compass: new compact crossover with an old name

Updated Oct. 11, 2017

Over a year ago before it launched, we were told that the next Jeep Compass would sit on a stretched Renegade platform, and look like a smaller Jeep Grand Cherokee. Here it is, as predicted:

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The 2016 trim lines continued: Sport, Latitude (Longitude, outside the US), Limited, and Trailhawk. Only the Trailhawk is "Trail Rated."

The new Jeep Compass is a continuation of the original concept - a tough-bodied, compact crossover with one model engineered for off-roading and three for bad weather, all in a Grand Cherokee-style skin. It carries the Chrysler "Tigershark" 2.4 liter engine, with manual and automatic transmissions, with a two-liter turbo four in the works.

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US power ratings are 180 hp at 6,400 rpm and 175 lb-ft of torque at 3,900 rpm, and a peak towing capacity of 2,000 lb (with tow package and AWD only). Electronic stop-start comes with both automatic transmissions, and includes a secondary battery and upgraded components. The engine has coil-on-plug ignition with dual plugs, and an automatic tensioner on the single-belt accessory drive.

There is just one engine, with three different transmissions. A Fiat six-speed manual is standard on the Sport and Latitude, with FWD or AWD; a six-speed Aisin is optional with FWD. All wheel drive Compasses can be ordered with the optional nine speed automatic (not a six speed automatic); the Trailhawk is nine-speed only.

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The nine-speed goes from 4.71:1 in first to 0.48 in ninth, with a final drive ratio of 3.73 (Trailhawk's final ratio is 4.33). The stick-shift has a 6.68 gear ratio spread and 4.44 final drive ratio; the six-speed automatic has a spread of 6.64 and a 3.50 final drive ratio. Outside the US, buyers can also get a 1.4 liter turbocharged four, six-or-seven-speed DDCT (the latter only in China), 2.0 TigerShark, and 1.6 and 2.0 liter Fiat MultiJet diesels.

All wheel drive and off-road

Jeep Active Drive (AWD) is optional on all but Trailhawk; Jeep Active Drive Low is only used on Trailhawk, where it's standard. The system has a fully disconnecting front wheel drive mode, automatic engagement, and a variable wet clutch in the rear drive module; there is programming for off-road, low-traction, aggressive-launch, and fast-turn driving. Both systems have a a neutral position; the Trailhawk has a 20:1 crawl ratio in low gear as well.

Terrain response is automatic. There is no center differential, and both systems rely on the power transfer unit (PTU); they have yaw correction to help with both understeer and oversteer. The system can divert full power to a single wheel.

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Only the Trailhawk has skid plates; those cover the fuel tank, transfer case, transmission, and front suspension. We don't recommend off-roading with other Jeep Compass models, even with AWD.

The Selec-Terrain system provides five models, which work with the Selec-Speed Control and Hill Descent Control systems. The modes are Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud, and, only on Trailhawk, Rock:

SnowSand/MudRock (AWD-Low only)
Second gear launch; slick-surface brake controls; locked in AWD; up to 60/40 front/rear power split; ESC full onOff-road brake controls; locked in AWD; partial ESCIncreased brake lock differential capacity; no ESC

The stability control (ESC) system is off in low gear, fully on with Auto and Snow, and in partial mode for Sport and Sand/Mud. Partial mode reduces traction and stability control, while keeping roll mitigation and antilock brakes on.

Engineering, suspension, and chassis

According to Jeep, the Compass was engineered within the United States; its "small-wide" architecture was based on Fiat's prior small-car setup, but was heavily modified. The Compass will be made on four continents and sold in over a hundred countries. The architecture has modular, interchangeable components with the ability to change the wheelbase, track, overhang, length, and width; thus, the Compass is 2.6 inches longer than the Renegade.

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The unibody Compass is made with over 65% high-strength steel; the upper body structure and subframe were created as a single unit, and adhesives were used to increase stiffness. The cradle is isolated on AWD Compasses (not on FWD), whichi also have front and rear steel crossmembers and aluminum knuckles - which may factor into why the FWD isn't rated for towing.

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The Compass uses a Chapman (modified MacPherson) suspension, with 8.2 inches of rear wheel articulation and 6.7 inches of front wheel articulation. Koni front and rear struts have frequency selective damping, which filters out high-frequency inputs from rough surfaces, making the ride smoother without sacrificing control. The front crossmember both adds rigidity and a third load line to help in crashes, while a new "split" shock absorber mounting splits road vibrations to improve acoustics. The rear cradle is solated for the same reason; it also includes attachment points for the lateral links and half-shafts.

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The steering is electrically powered, with the assist within the column; power assistance is changed based on conditions. The steering torque system autaomtically corrects for surfaces with low grip, and is integrated with the stability control setup to help in split-traction, torque steer, and crowned-road situations.

2018 Compass
Longitude AWD
2018 Compass
2016 Compass
Approach angle16.8° USA
28.7° Brazil
30.3° USA
29.1° Brazil
20.6° Latitude
29.6° Trail Rated
Departure angle31.7° USA
31.9° Brazil
33.6° USA
33.1° Brazil
28.5° Latitude
31.2° Trail Rated
Ramp angle22.9° USA
23.2° Brazil
24.4° USA
23.7° Brazil
20.6° Latitude
23.6° Trail Rated
Min clearance 8.2" USA
8.6" Brazil
8.5" USA
9" Brazil
8.1" Latitude
9.1" Trail Rated
Water crossing19"18.9"
Weight3,327 (AWD)
3,184 (FWD)
3,633 lb3,247 (AWD)
3,082 (FWD)

Motorchase reported that the higher ground clearance of the Trailhawk was mainly gained through spring changes, with a small increase from the all-terrain tires. Sport model tires are 215/65R16s, CrossContact LX Sport or Crugen Premium; the Latitude and Limited come with 225/60R17 Crugen Premium or Destination LE2 radials. The Trailhawk comes with Falken WildPeak H/T 215/65R17 all-season tires. (The largest wheels, 19", are optional on the Limited AWD, with 235/45R19 ContiProContacts.)

2016 FWD2016 AWD2017 FWD2017 AWD
2.0 / Manual23/30 --
2.4 / Manual23/2822/2723/3222/31
2.0 / Auto22/26 --
2.4 / Auto21/2720/2522/3122/30
Trail Rated-20/23-22/30

2017 US pricing started at $22,090 (including destination) for the Sport 4x2; the Sport 4x4 costs $1,500 more. The Latitude, with or without AWD, was $25,390. The Trailhawk started at $29,690 and the Limited (AWD only in 2017, FWD or AWD in 2018) at $30,090.

2017 Compass Test Drives

2017-2018 Jeep Compass cabin, interior, noise, and styling

Noise was cut back using structural design, as well as frame-under-glass door construction with triple seals and acoustic wheel well liners.

As oh2o predicted in Allpar, the Compass will have an 8.4" UConnect touch screen stereo option (with 5 and 7 inch units as well), unlike the Renegade's top five-inch screen. This is the new generation system, and the 7 and 8.4 inch systems include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Navigation seems to require the 8.4 screen, but all are faster than prior units. The touch screen has a customizable menu bar, and you can use "Send & Go" to send destinations from a phone to the car. The new-ish satellite "Guardian" service provides an SOS button on the mirror, an Assist button to get help for minor issues (e.g. running out of fuel), and lets people start the car and set the temperature remotely.

Speedometer Auto part Vehicle Car Gauge

The steering wheel has integrated audio, voice, and speed controls; and all models get a media hub with USB and auxiliary inputs, with an extra USB port on the back of the center console, facing the rear seats. The optional Beats audio system has nine speakers (four 6x9s in the doors, two one-inchers in the rear doors, two 3.5s in the dash, and an eight-inch woofer), with a 12-channel amp.

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A 3.5" trip computer is standard, a seven-inch unit optional, also as predicted. Either system provides custom options, and provide turn by turn navigation (if equipped). The 7-inch system also shows text messages.

Jeep stylists pointed out the chrome trim that wraps around the Compass and its glossy black painted roof (not a decal, but actual paint) as unique features. The chrome slots of the grille are in a gloss-black background; headlamp bezels are also black, and turn signals and daytime running lights are both separate so they can be seen more easily. The optional dual-pane sunroof provides an extra-large opening.

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The rear spoiler was designed for aerodynamics; the rear wiper is mounted in the glass. Colors are Redline Red, Spitfire Orange, Laser Blue Pearl, Olive Green, Jazz Blue Pearl Coat, Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat, Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat, Diamond Black Crystal Pearl Coat, Pearl White Tri-Coat (Limited only), Bright White Tri-Coat, and Rhino Clear Coat (Limited and Trailhawk only).

Interior touches include contrast threads in the stitching, vinyl-wrapped door panels, soft-touch center armrest, and chrome vent bezels. Storage includes a mesh pocket in the front passenger footwell for small electronics and a multi-level rear cargo floor that brings up PT Cruiser memories. There are five interior color setups, but they seem to generally be tied to price classes:

SandstormCloth seats with Big Hex design on Sedoso cloth inserts; "Moroccan Sun II" or "Anodized Gunmetal" bezels; black instrument panel and door panel.
UrbexBlack cloth or leather, Big Hex design on Sedoso cloth seat inserts, two-tone tan/gray stitching, "Anodized Gunmetal" bezels.
Alpine"Light and bright contrasting color scheme" (this is probably the one pictured in the Limited)
Ski GrayCompass Latitude only: "Sky Gray" and black seats in Big Hex design, with cloth and vinyl; McKinley leather, embossed Jeep logos, gray and black door panels, glossy black bezels
TrailhawkCloth or leather with black seats (with or without Sedoso inserts). Red contrast stitching.

The Compass is made in Pernambuco, Brazil, and will be made in Mexico and China, with the Chinese plant producing for domestic use only. Overall, there will be 17 powertrain options and 100 countries of sale. Ordering opened in Brazil on September 26, 2016, with a 2-liter Chrysler gasoline engine and a 2-liter Fiat diesel.

The models

On all models, the compact spare is optional (except Trailhawk, which gets a full size spare).

Sport is the base, with black door handles, manual transmission (optional automatic), clear glass (unless buyers get a package), manual headlamps, no fog lamps, black mirrors (still power adjustable and heated), no roof rails except with a package, 16 inch steel wheels, the small trip computer, air conditioning, ordinary interior lighting, and black cloth seats. Unlike past base models, this one doesn't seem to have been crippled by leaving out items most people want; it even includes the media hub, pushbutton starter, tilt/telescope steering wheel, and rear camera.

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The Latitude adds the ability to buy many packages and options: towing, power liftgate, auto high beams, HID headlights, black roof, sunroof, speed sensitive wipers, dual-zone automatic temperature control with a filter and humidity sensor, reversible carpet/vinyl cargo mat, 7-inch trip computer, mud mats, AC outlet, heated front seats, power driver's seat, heated steering wheel, satellite radio/services, UConnect 7 and 8.4, blind spot monitor, rear cross path detection, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and alarm.

The Latitude also adds body-color door handles and mirrors, deep-tinted glass, cornering fog lamps, roof rails, 17 inch aluminum wheels (with optional 18 inch wheels), rear-seat console (automatic only), ambient LED lighting, vinyl seat inserts, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and passive entry.

Safety features, further specifications

Many of these features are options or part of packages.

The Jeep Compass was the first Brazilian-made car with adaptive cruise control, lane change monitor, and front collision warning/prevention - automated parking is also optional. The Compass can be ordered with turn signals on the mirrors. Other safety measures include all-row full-length side curtain airbags, four wheel antilock brakes, automatic defogging (with the automatic temperature system), automatic high beams, auto-reverse power sunroof, windows, and liftgate, capless fuel filler door, dual-note horns, and of course rear cameras and radar parking alerts. It also has an optional front wiper blade de-icer regardless of model, which should be popular in the snow belt.

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Adaptive cruise control keeps a steady distance from the driver in front, and can stop the car if needed. Blind spot monitoring uses dual radar sensors to alert the driver, visually and (optionally) wiht a noise, if they try to merge into a lane that already has a car in it; rear cross path detection, a Chrysler first, uses rear detectors to spot oncoming traffic as the driver backs out, very useful in busy parking lots (in our experience, it detects people as well as cars, though that's not something to rely on).

The parking system works for both parallel and perpendicular parking, on either side of the car. Other feaures include rain sensing wipers, hill start assistance (briefly holds the car on steep hills after the driver lets off the brake and before moving forward), trailer sway control, and tilt/telescoping steering wheels.

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Long ago, researchers discovered that people often didn't slam on the brakes at full strength, so the Compass, like many other cars, fills in the gap by detecting panic stops and providing full force. It also has electronic brake force distribution and an electric parking brake that should always hold the car (since most drivers don't apply the emergency brake enough to keep the car in place). A brake throttle override, long used in Chrysler cars, limits the throttle when the brake is engaged. Advanced brake assist puts the brake on if drivers don't react to an oncoming collision.

RedRiderBob contributed to this report and FGA Cheerleader pointed us to the new specs. The wheelbase for the Compass remains unchanged, down to the millimeter (this might be a reporting error). Cargo space was reported as 14.5 cubic feet (42 with the seats down), but this is based on a local system where space is only measured up to the shelf; the original Compass was around 16 cubic feet under the same system (with the seats up).

2016 Jeep
2018 Compass
2018 Compass
Length173.4 173.9173.0
Width69.371.673.8 / 80
(mirrors folded/open)

There are LEDs in front, with daytime running lights, fog lights, and projector headlamps on all models; Trailhawk and Limited have optional HIDs. Only the Limited gets LED tail-lamps, and those are part of the Advance Technology Group.

The interior is larger than the prior Jeep Compass; it's wider, with roughly the same legroom and more cargo space, and the only reason the interior volume number is slightly lower is because of the "more normal" headroom.

Jeep Compass interior20162018
Shoulder room, F/R54.656.7 / 55.1
Leg room, F+R80.080.1
SAE interior volume101.399.6
Cargo vol., seats up22.7 27.2
Cargo, seats down53.6 59.8
Interior volume index124126.7
Headroom, F/R, no sunroof40.7 / 39.939.2 / 38.5

All US models have a 160 amp alternator and 500 amp battery (with a secondary 150 amp battery on stop-start-equipped cars).

Our renderings and more spy shots

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On June 5, 2015, oh2o wrote that the 2018s would differ from the original Compass by also having Grand Cherokee styling inside, though with the JGC's round vents replaced by uprights on each side of the stereo, given the reduced dashboard width. The shifter is on a flat area of the console, instead of being angled up towards the radio; and there's no brake lever, because, like the Renegade and Cherokee, it has an electric parking brake.

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2017 Compass Test DrivesJeepOriginal CompassRenegadeCherokee

Chrysler 1904-2018

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