More flavor, the same mediocre filling

jeep compass Complete overview

Benefits

  • Genuinely attractive new dashboard, intuitive infotainment, comfortable seats.

Cons

  • The driveline conspires against your desire to accelerate, fast driving, expensive.

When the current generation Jeep Compass appeared in 2017, it was such an under-compact SUV that was elevated by the direct awful original Compass it replaced and the availability of the off-road Trailhawk model. Even today, no other small crossover can get as far off the sidewalk as the uplifted, lumpy Compass Trailhawk, even if Ford’s Bronco Sport comes close. But five years have passed since the previous compass was put on pasture, the memory of that tragically bad SUV fades quickly – the new compass deprives a lightly cleaned bar and leaves it to compete on its merits in one of the industry’s most competitive vehicle segments.

Does the inside really count?

Jeep’s mid-bike refresh of the Compass for 2022 offered the perfect opportunity for our first check-in with an SUV in several years, and without the predecessor’s foul-smelling afterglow. This year’s update could have focused on the Compass’s “hissing driveline, weak road performance and cheap interior”, as we put it when the details became public last year, but it ended up mostly addressing one of those pain points: interior. Even then, Jeep only struggled with the Compass dashboard and center console and dressed it up with a new look, its latest Uconnect 5 touchscreen, the latest Grand Cherokee SUV’s steering wheel and a recently optional digital meter cluster. The SUV’s nose and wheel design also received some attention.

The interior effect is transformative, not least because the dashboard is what most passengers will spend their time looking at when inside a compass. Thinner air vents look more stylish, and the fresh steering wheel and the new central display nicely hide the fact that this SUV has been on sale for half a decade. Nothing has been done with the door panels except a little nicer trim here and there. Higher equipment levels like the premium High Altitude model we tested (as well as a limited specification version that we also drove during this evaluation) have interesting colors and are loaded with luxurious features, from the heated front and rear seats and steering wheel to the 10.1 -inch Uconnect 5 screen and sewn leather-like material on the dashboard. Lesser Compasses still gets an 8.4-inch version of this screen and splashes of sewn upholstery on the dashboard.

Everything works well, with the models equipped with the new digital meter cluster that uses the same basic control layout found in the new mid-size Grand Cherokee, where the buttons on the left steering wheel control the cluster and the infotainment and driver assistance functions on the right handle. We appreciate the large volume and setting knobs, even if the two awkwardly cross-border HVAC buttons in a small panel are filled under the high-mounted touch screen. Another bugaboo? The text used in the digital display suffers from small fonts, whether you choose to produce animated analog speedometers and tachometers (which appear as two half-dollar circles) or go with the simplified digital reading. In both cases, a large part of the display area disappears unused unless you actively scroll through on-screen menus, which appear in the blanks only to disappear when you are done.

So what about the rest of the compass?

It’s worth reminding everyone where Compass falls, in terms of size, in today’s small SUV arena. Depending on your perspective, the compass is either a little compact – e.g. a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Ford Escape competitor – or a slightly extra large sub-compact crossover, ready to elbow the smaller Honda HR-Vs, Kia Souls, and Nissan Rogue Sports of the world out of the way. Dimensionally, the Compass splits the averages of these two size classes, and the presence of the Jeeps’ smaller Renegade (a true subcompact) and the larger Cherokee (a full-on compact SUV) only further muddy the water; we categorize it as a sub-compact.

We address the size problem so that we can point out that the compass is quite long and also stubby in length, with a short wheelbase of 103.8 inches. These dimensions give the small jeep a nimble look and a satisfactorily high seating position, but the wheelbase gives the Compass a choppy ride with pronounced sensations of climbing forward and backward as it slows down to a stop. Given how people drive nowadays, you will definitely be cut off by any anxious post-pandemic American; when it happens in the compass and you hit the brakes, the jeep will dip its nose noticeably before reversing when you release the grips. Larger compact SUVs generally do not suffer from this behavior; it is closer in line with similar sub-compact compactors.

In addition to the recent aggressive driving habits of your fellow Americans, you will definitely be cut off when rolling around with a compass because it is slow Slow. Each compass is powered by a 177-hp 2.4-liter I-4 engine coupled to a nine-speed automatic transmission from ZF; Between the Jeep’s porky 3,623 pounds of service weight (as tested) and the automatic’s steadfast reluctance to work with the driver in any way to deliver the right gear, you’ll spend a lot of time pedaling and trying to keep up with the traffic.

The gearbox setting is such that if a higher gear can be selected, the compass is probably already in it. We discovered that the Compass would actually lose speed in barely noticeable slopes at highway speeds without pressing the accelerator pedal quite hard, its overwhelmed engine got stuck and tried to turn a gear too high. The broadcast treats this request as a teenager being asked to clean his room, only to dig with more pressure after a delay. Once in a fairly low gear, the engine can tilt around the compass almost normally; it’s just a shame to extract that the desired behavior feels like pulling teeth.

Even if the driver pulls away from a stop, the driver must keep a firm pressure on the accelerator pedal so that the gearbox does not try to shift up at the same moment as the pedal is lifted off the mat. In our tests, the Compass High Altitude, which only comes with four-wheel drive, hit 60 mph in 9.7 seconds and ended up between a pair of compasses that we tested in 2017, which required 9.4 and 10.5 seconds to do the same.

Usually, when we complain about the behavior of a gearbox in a review, it is in connection with the gearbox not playing along with a sporty or aggressive driving style. We usually add the warning that “when driving normally” everything is mostly copatic, and goes on. The thing is, the 2022 Jeep Compass transmission setup is not a victim of our misplaced dynamic priorities – it really is worse when driving quietly, as most small SUV buyers will drive one, as it only guarantees that the poor engine is struggling through the wrong gear ratio, giving the jeep an extremely sluggish feel.

Jeep Compass’ other dynamic features are not quite as backwater, but they are nothing to write home about either. Our high-altitude test model’s 19-inch tire held just 0.80 g of grip on the ski pad, not much better than the higher, live axle Wrangler SUV. These nosedive stops will occur within 133 feet of 60 mph, another unimpressive display. At least the steering feels precise, and provided there is not too much crosswind, the compass’s sense of straight ahead at highway speeds is solid. Cabin and wind noise is muted for the class as well.

Does the new cabin touch the needle?

Make no mistake, the 2022 Jeep Compass is better than the 2021 Compass (which, if you forgot, was a big step beyond 2016 and older Compass). We just wish that Jeep focused on a few more of the SUV’s shortcomings, starting with the steady driving and the sluggish driveline. The value also takes something of a step backwards, as the compass now starts at $ 28,985 in entry-level sports trim with front-wheel drive. It’s expensive for a compact SUV in one size, let alone an average sub-compact entry, even when you consider the improved technology in the car and the new standardized blind spot and warning of a collision ahead. (A Toyota RAV4, for example, starts at $ 27,740, while a Honda CR-V’s opening price is even lower at $ 27,625.) The 2022 Jeep Compass High Altitude we tested starts at $ 37,185 and was selected at $ 39,075 – you can pick up a BMW X1 for less, and should.

In this climate of dealer surcharges and price inflation, customers may not notice how unpleasant the pricing of the Compass really is, and therefore we doubt that the SUV’s popularity will decline any time soon. People seem to like the Jeep’s mini-Grand-Cherokee look, and the upgraded interior finally catches up with the exterior of the monkey-sized SUV. That’s fine, but it’s a shame the rest of the package does not do more to emulate the excellent Grand Cherokee, as it would help elevate it to newer, better and cheaper sub-compact competitors.

Looks good! More details?

Specifications for 2022 Jeep Compass 4×4 (High Height).
BASIC PRICE $ 37 185
PRICE AS TESTED $ 39,075
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.4L port-injected SOHC 16-valve I-4
POWER (SAE NET) 177 hp at 6,400 rpm
MOMENT (SAE NET) 172 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm
TRANSFER 9-speed automatic
PERSONAL WEIGHT (F / R DIST) 3 623 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 103.8 inches
Length x width x height 173.4 x 73.8 x 64.6 inches
0-60 MPH 9.7 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.3 sec @ 80.2 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 km / h 133 feet
PAGE ACCELERATION 0.80 g (average)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.2 sec @ 0.57 g (average)
EPA CITY / HWY / COMB FUEL ECON 22/30/25 mpg
EPA RANGE, COMB 338 mil
FOR SALE Now

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