2007 Compass New Car Test Drive
The 2007 Jeep Compass is all new, a term usually meaning that a vehicle has been completely redesigned. But in the case of the Compass, it's a completely new vehicle: first generation.
One way to measure the value of the Compass might be to compare it to the trusty Jeep Cherokee that was enormously popular for 18 years and finally ended its run in 2001. The Compass is slightly bigger and light years better than the Cherokee was 10 years ago. The new Compass costs about $1000 less, in today's dollars. When you consider inflation (28 percent by the Consumer Price Index), that number blows up to more than $6000 cheaper.
The Compass is built on a front-wheel-drive, car-based platform (called the GS, a modified version of a platform that supports the Mitsubishi Lancer). The Compass comes with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The Jeep Compass uses DaimlerChrysler's 2.4-liter, four-cylinder World Engine, developed jointly for 21st century efficiency with Mitsubishi and Hyundai. It's a solid, sophisticated, 16-valve engine, quieter and stronger than a four-banger was believed capable of being, 10 years ago. It features electronic variable valve timing that continually changes the torque curve, bringing more versatility to the 165 peak pound-feet of torque, and more capability to the 172 peak horsepower. Emphasis during development of this engine was on fuel mileage; even carrying 3326 pounds, the Compass 4WD with a five-speed manual transmission delivers 25 city and 29 highway miles per gallon, estimated by Jeep.
The Jeep Compass offers a Continuously Variable Transaxle, which performs like an automatic transmission, and it's a doozy. The CVT is optional with the Compass Sport model, and standard on the Limited, where Autostick can be added to the CVT. Autostick enables the driver to shift up and down over six steps, making it feel like a six-speed gearbox without a clutch pedal. The combination of CVT with six-speed Autostick is the best of both worlds, and works more precisely than the manual/automatic transmissions in many expensive sports sedans.
The safety, ride and handling of the Compass are all excellent, with a strong steel structure and well-planned subframe. Side-curtain airbags and electronic stability control with anti-rollover sensors are standard. Although, in order to keep the advertised MSRP down, air conditioning and power windows and locks are optional.
The styling is similar but sleeker than Jeep's other small SUV, the Liberty, which uses a six-cylinder engine. There's good interior space all around, with rear seats that fold flat to make about 54 cubic feet of cargo space. Options for added versatility include reclining rear seats and a passenger front seat that also folds flat, creating either a table or eight-foot-long space for storage.
The Jeep Compass lineup comes as two models, Sport ($15,425) and Limited ($19,580). Each comes standard with two-wheel drive or with optional four-wheel drive ($1600). One engine is used, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a five speed manual or a CVT automatic ($1000).
The Sport model comes standard with an AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary audio input jack. However, air conditioning ($850) is optional, and you'll need to order the Power Equipment Group ($995) to get power windows and locks and keyless remote entry.
Options include a six-disc CD player with MP3 ($320); Sirius satellite radio ($195); sunroof ($800); dark tinted glass ($350); heated front seats ($250); Security and Cargo Convenience Group including alarm, tonneau cover and daytime running lamps ($265); Trailer Tow Prep Package with engine oil cooler and wiring harness; Driver Convenience Group with tire pressure monitor, self-dimming rearview mirror, compass, temperature gauge, garage door opener and vehicle info center ($425), and a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system ($595) featuring speakers in the liftgate that can blast the crowd at tailgate parties. If you want reclining rear seats and a fold-flat front passenger seat, you have to get the Value Package ($2600), which includes many of the options listed above.
The Limited model comes with a leather interior, heated seats with driver lumbar support, cruise control, dark tinted glass, speed-sensitive power steering, flat-folding front passenger seat, reclining rear seats, and 18-inch aluminum wheels with all-season tires. The front and rear fascia and side moldings have shiny aluminum accents.
Options for the Limited include the Sport options, plus a six-speed Autostick mode with the Continuously Variable Transaxle ($1150), a navigation system, hands-free Bluetooth communication, chrome-plated 18-inch aluminum wheels ($825) and the Boston Acoustics sound system ($460).
Safety features that come standard on all models include anti-lock brakes with brake assist (which applies more brake force than the driver is applying if sensors determine it's needed in a panic stop), electronic stability control (ESP) with Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM), and side-curtain air bags for head protection. Also standard are state-of-the-art seatbelts in all five positions, so be sure to wear them. Seatbelts are your first line of defense in a crash. Safety options include side airbags for the front seats ($250) for torso protection in a side impact. A tire pressure monitoring system is available as part of a package.