I was headed down Market Street in San Francisco in the 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk when it happened. To my right a string of parked cars lined the curb. To my left, a 60-foot long tandem Muni bus stretched fore and aft of my little SUV. In front of me was what looked to be the shortest lane merge in the city.
Not wanting to follow the bus and what was sure to be its many stops, I gunned the 2.4-liter engine. The nine-speed transmission jumped down a few gears and I accelerated. Barely. My lane was quickly coming to an end as I willed the Compass forward, feeling the rpms climb ever so slowly to overtake the bus. Just as my lane ran out, I cleared the behemoth and scooted ahead, a few droplets of sweat now gracing my brow.
We were happy to get our first look at the all-new 2017 Compass at last year’sas the last generation was looking rather long in the tooth. This new version takes the place not only of the old Compass but also the Patriot as well. It slots in well just above the little and looks like a baby with its sleeker front end. Fortunately it doesn’t wander into polarizing design language like the Jeep Cherokee.
The available tech features in the Compass are just kind of meh, but that is offset by the excellent functionality of the Uconnect infotainment system. The Compass doesn’t come standard with any kind of safety package. Instead the Safety and Security Group adds $795 to the bottom line and only includes rear park assist, blind spot monitoring and rain sensing wipers. Adaptive cruise control is not available on the Compass.
My tester didn’t have the Advanced Safety and Lighting Group, which adds desired features like forward collision warning and lane keeping assist. Automakers like Toyota and Honda are making many of these features, including adaptive cruise control, standard these days, and Jeep would do well to keep up.
Fortunately the Uconnect system in the cabin is great, made even better with refreshed graphics and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. My tester came with the $895 Navigation package with an 8.5-inch screen and Garmin-based GPS navigation. Inputs are quick, graphics are crisp and the home screen can be customized with your most-used features. Jeep crams a lot of information on each page, but every page is well thought out and easy to read. The system is super-simple to use and other manufacturers, I’m looking at you, Toyota, would benefit from taking a cue from Jeep.
My only gripe with the system is that I can’t cycle forward and backward through my radio presets from the steering wheel buttons. I can only go forward, through all 12 presets. I suppose I could set my favorite four stations in three sets within those 12 presets, but I would love to be able to go from XM’s Classic Rewind to First Wave and back again.
So close to pointing due North
The Compass is available in two or four-wheel drive and with the option of a nine-speed or six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. Regardless of drivetrain, there is no choice of engine, just the 2.4-liter four cylinder, good for 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque.