Review: Compass shares Jeep characteristics with Wrangler, Grand Cherokee

A 2.4-liter, 180-horsepower inline four-cylinder engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission [	] in the four-wheel-drive Trailhawk model of the 2015 Jeep Compass.
A 2.4-liter, 180-horsepower inline four-cylinder engine is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission [ ] in the four-wheel-drive Trailhawk model of the 2015 Jeep Compass.

Although overshadowed by Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, Jeep’s Compass follows company tradition of combining ride comfort with off-road excellence.

Cabin seats are wide and spacious with leg room in the split-and-fold rear seating area, which only is a few inches less than that offered by the two bucket seats in front.

Cargo capacity is equal to or more than that of competitors in the compact SUV market. Maximum storage space is 59.8 cubic feet.

Pricing starts at $20,995 for the four Compass models but, if money is not an issue, a recently tested $28,595 Trailhawk 4x4 is the best. Trim turns from cloth to leather and metal alloy. The 2.4-liter, 180-horsepower inline four-cylinder engine has been tweaked for more power. Instead of being limited to towing a 1,500-pound trailer, the Trailhawk will tow 2,000 pounds.

Transmissions are six-speed automatic or manual in the 2017 Compass, and also a nine-speed automatic. Even with that nine-speed on the tested Trailhawk, the average fuel economy was only 20.4 mpg. About 75 percent of the travel was on interstate systems with one person (180 pounds) aboard. Regular fuel is recommended.

The Trailhawk comes with tow hooks front and rear, undercarriage protection, a high-low transfer case and settings for five drive modes (automatic, sand, snow, mud, rock).

The Trailhawk – with wider all-terrain tires, suspension tuning, fog and cornering lamps, increased ground clearance (8.5 inches), locking rear differential and intricate gearing – is built for off-road travel. The 4x4 system has a rear axle disconnect system to seamlessly switch between two- and four-wheel drive. The system reduces energy loss and increases fuel efficiency when 4x4 capability is not needed.

Unique to Trailhawk is hill descent and hill-start controls plus active Drive II, which features a four-wheel Low mode, rear locker and a “rock” setting on the terrain selection system. This provides more traction.

If in the market, be sure the Trailhawk is a 2017 model and not the less strong and equipped 2016 SUV.

Trailhawk amenities include power windows, exterior and heated mirrors, panoramic sunroof, door locks, front seats and rear liftgate. A nifty touch is the rubberized floor mat in the cargo area. It can be removed and scrubbed. There are three 12-volt outlets.

Standard are 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, Bluetooth streaming audio, smartphone apps, Google Android Auto capability, Apple CarPlay and a six-speaker sound system for AM-FM radio and Sirius satellite radio (free for a year). UConnect is Jeep’s information and emergency system. Services include roadside assistance, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle location.

This Jeep rides like a car and, if there is a complaint, it is with insulating factors. They could be better as exterior noise does intrude.

Safety and security are paramount. Driver and passengers are protected by more than 70 available safety and security features, including seven standard airbags, and multiple advanced active and passive safety and security systems.

The Trailhawk can be brightly dressed as paint choices include metallic orange, blue, yellow and red besides the usual black, white, sand and gray.

The sparkling red finish on the exterior of the tested Trailhawk included the three tow hooks (two front, one rear). On the interior, besides the leather trim, climate control, center console cupholder, sound system speakers on four doors and shifter surrounds were red. The black leather was stitched in red.

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