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2018 Jeep Compass: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader November 2017

The 2018 Jeep Compass has a lot working in its favor. Not least of which is an agreeable cabin, along with generally pleasing driving manners. Now in the second model year of its second generation, the Compass is built on the same platform as the pint-sized Renegade, but is stretched for greater rear legroom and cargo space.

So it slots between the Jeep Renegade and the Jeep Cherokee. It's bigger than a subcompact, but easier to park than a regular compact crossover. Squint at the Compass and it might even be reminiscent of the larger Grand Cherokee. The roofline, however, is lower than the Renegade's, although headroom is still acceptable.

What's New for 2018?

The Limited trim level now starts out as a front-drive model, with the option of all-wheel drive.

What We Like

Unmistakeable Jeep styling; smart packaging; off-road-ready Trailhawk version

What We Don't

So-so performance

How Much?

$22,090-$29,790

Fuel Economy

The standard engine is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder unit developing 180 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. It has a stop/start feature to save a little gas when idling. The default transmission is a 6-speed manual in the lower trims, while a 6-speed automatic is the alternative for front-drive versions. All-wheel-drive models offer a 9-speed automatic transmission (making the Compass the only small crossover with that many ratios).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption for a front-drive/manual setup at 23 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in combined driving. The front-drive/automatic configuration returns 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

All-wheel-drive versions achieve 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with the manual transmission or 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined when using the automatic.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Jeep Compass is a small 5-seater crossover that comes in Sport, Latitude, Limited and Trailhawk trim levels. The Trailhawk has all-wheel drive and the 9-speed automatic transmission as standard.

The all-wheel-drive variants of the Sport, Latitude and Limited trims come with a basic terrain response system, while the Trailhawk version has a more sophisticated version, plus low-range gearing for its transmission and a crawl mode.

The Sport ($22,090) comes with 16-inch steel wheels, push-button start, cruise control, black door handles, heated side mirrors, air conditioning, a USB port, Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio input, 6-way manually adjustable front seats, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a 6-speaker audio system, a 5-in touchscreen, hill-start assist, a rearview camera and trailer sway control.

The Latitude ($25,390) brings 17-in alloy wheels, body color door handles, automatic head lamps, fog lamps, roof rails, ambient LED cabin lighting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cloth/simulated leather upholstery. There's no front-drive/manual transmission version of this trim level.

The Limited ($28,690) is back to the more usual road-going setup, adding 18-in alloy wheels, a self-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an 8-way power-adjustable driver's seat and a heated steering wheel.

The Trailhawk ($29,790) has a more off-road-appropriate suspension with greater travel, higher ride height, dedicated front and rear fascia, hill-descent control, 17-in alloy wheels, skid plates (to protect the undersides of various components), tow hooks (two at the front, one at the back) and all-season on/off-road tires. It also features dual-zone automatic climate control, a 115-volt power outlet, satellite radio and an 8.5-in touchscreen.

Options include a powered tailgate, high-intensity discharge (HID) head lamps, a sunroof (not eligible in Sport trim), 19-in alloy wheels (Limited trim only), rain-sensing wipers, a 9-speaker Beats audio system, navigation, an 8.5-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision mitigation, lane-departure warning, parking sensors and remote start. Some equipment in the Limited trim may also be ordered for lower trim levels.

Cargo capacity runs to 27.2 cu ft. with the rear seats in place or 59.8 cu ft. when they're folded down. The front passenger seat also folds down for some extra hauling versatility.

Towing capacity is 2,000 pounds when fitted with a Trailer Tow package, for which only the all-wheel-drive versions -- in Latitude trim or upwards -- are eligible.

Safety

Standard safety features include anti-lock disc brakes, traction/stability control with rollover protection and seven airbags (including one for the driver's knees). More money must be spent to have things like forward-collision mitigation.

This generation of Compass received four stars overall from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named it a Top Safety Pick.

Behind the Wheel

The engine's output of 180 hp could be described as modest. The whole experience is pleasant and fairly hushed, rather than thrilling or cosseting. But that's still a big improvement over the old Compass and should work for most potential buyers. And it has that all-important elevated driving position.

Thanks to the Jeep approach, where every vehicle that bears its name should go at least some way into the wild, the Compass -- in its most extreme Trailhawk form -- enjoys ground clearance of 8.5 in, an approach angle of 30.3 degrees, a breakover angle of 24.4 degrees and a departure angle of 33.6 degrees. These are pretty good figures for something that still works well on the street.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Subaru Crosstrek -- All new for 2018. More refined than the first generation, but still low on power. All-wheel drive comes as standard.

2018 Jeep Renegade -- If the extra space of the Compass is not required, the less-expensive Renegade is still attractive in its own way.

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport -- Interesting from a cost/space/equipment perspective, but relatively ancient.

2018 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack -- Essentially a Golf wagon with a raised suspension and all-wheel drive. It also has a pleasant interior and refined driving manners.

Used Honda CR-V -- Admittedly, there's no rugged Jeep-like coolness to the CR-V. But if anyone is looking for a good, reliable used compact crossover, this does the job. A certified pre-owned (CPO) version comes with a decent warranty.

Autotrader's Advice

The Latitude version brings a useful level of equipment for a reasonable price.

Find a Jeep Compass for sale

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New 2018 Jeep Compass FWD Limited
New 2018 Jeep Compass
MSRP $32,315
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New 2018 Jeep Compass 4WD Limited
New 2018 Jeep Compass
MSRP $33,870
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New 2018 Jeep Compass 4WD Trailhawk
New 2018 Jeep Compass
MSRP $34,460
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New 2018 Jeep Compass 4WD Latitude
New 2018 Jeep Compass
MSRP $32,705
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Jeep Compass: New Car Review - Autotrader