Think Jeep and your mind automatically conjures vehicles that are square, extraordinarily capable in off-road situations and minimally habitable over the road. These days the Jeep Wrangler is the epitome of that suggestion, but there is another Jeep in the family playground that looks more like a crossover vehicle (CUV) than a trail-rated SUV.
That would be the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited 4×4, capable off-road but truly at home on the tarmac. The opportunity to spend five days in Colorado with this beautiful Billet Silver metallic Compass (with black leather interior) made a believer of this writer, as we traveled from Denver’s airport to Fort Collins, back to Denver, to Monument and on to the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway west of Denver.
Capable is the best way to describe the Compass. Handsome is another great way to describe this curvy SUV, redrawn in 2017 to its great advantage. No longer a pair of boring boxes, the new Jeep Compass is sleek, modern and beautifully constructed in Mexico (at the moment without any tariffs). Its sculptural design is marked by a wide stance and great outside visibility for driver and passengers.
This compact SUV has either 4×4 or 4×2 configurations; the review vehicle has Jeep’s 4×4 system with active drive that gives it best-in-class delivery of the off-road experience and has settings for automatic activation, along with snow, sand or mud. Its seven-post vertical grille tells the world this is a Jeep; from that nose backward this compact SUV exudes strength and adjustability. Dedicated brightwork extends from front window lead through to surround the rear hatch opening and adds cohesive elegance to this long wheelbase SUV.
The 2018 Jeep Compass Limited’s 2.4L inline Tigershark MultiAir2 four-cylinder engine has 180 horsepower at the redline of 6,400 rpm, together with 175 lb-ft of torque at a usable 3,900. It’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission and features auto-stop, which certainly helps fuel consumption. The 13.5-gallon fuel tank accepts regular unleaded gasoline and is rated at 22/30/25mpg; my initial tank on the Jeep, with mostly over-the-road driving was over 29mpg; for my 362-mile drive, I averaged 28.9mpg.
MacPherson struts with coil springs suspend the front axle while Chapman struts with high-strength steel links support the rear, assisted by an isolated steel rear cradle for the 4×4 model. Steering is a by electric power rack and pinion with 36.3-foot curb-to-curb turning circle. It’s all very precise, as one would hope. Jeep fits vented front and solid rear disc brakes that handily stop the Compass on its Continental 225/55R 18-inch tires mounted on five-spoke polished/dark gray centered alloy rims. For a car that weighs 3,633 pounds in this configuration, it feels exceptionally agile over the road and on rough pavement. There wasn’t time to do a true off-road excursion during this period.
But there was plenty of time to drive and learn about the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited 4×4 as we drove up and down I-25 and across I-70 from place to place. The prime discovery is that this is a proper vehicle with great amenities. The Compass’ $30,190 list price (including freight) fronts six options that bring the final cost to $34,860.
The Advanced Safety & Lighting Group has Jeep’s advanced brake assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, LED tail lights, Bi-Xenon HID headlamps with LED signature running lights, as well as automatic high beam control ($895). Jeep’s Safety and Security group encompasses rear park assistance, blind spot and cross-path detection and rain sensitive intermittent wipers ($745). In my opinion these two should be combined.
The Navigation group’s ($995) excellent GPS-based navigation system, fourth-generation Uconnect™ with the bright and easy-to-see 8.4-inch display, a year of SiriusXM guardian service, travel link subscription for five years and traffic plus for a year. Single options are the long, tilting dual-pane sunroof, the exceptional power liftgate with its release on the left side of the hatch opening, rather than on the hatch door itself (yay) and a compact spare tire.
The navigation system in this Jeep is exceptional and gives extremely direct instructions for each destination. It was used even when the destination was familiar, just to test it and in every case it passed with flying colors. Surrounding the navigation is a soft-plastic upper dash with hard-polished-black surrounds for vents and the nav system. The imbedded audio system with six speakers works well and the cabin absorbs sounds well.
The driver’s controls include fully powered leather seats – both front seats and the steering wheel are heated – with four-way lumbar controls. The gauge cluster is all business with its tachometer and speedometer joined by temperature and fuel gauges. Central information can be changed using steering wheel controls that include trip info and phone controls on the left and cruise control (non-radar-controlled) on the right. A central storage has auxiliary, USB and 12-volt access.
Three rear-seat occupants have a 12-volt plug at their disposal, along with USB connectivity; the armrest features cupholders. There’s a 70/30 fold for the rear seats that increases cargo capacity from 27.2 cubic feet to 59.8 cubes. The rear hatch opening is a maximum of 42.1 inches, which allows good visits to the warehouse store of your choice. While there was no hatch cover, there’s good privacy glass and Jeep fits a 12-volt plug at the left area of the hatch by the release.
This Jeep Compass is set up for both Android- and Apple CarPlay features and reverts to them when the device is powered up and connected to the vehicle. It is possible to disarm some of the “nannies” like the much-disliked (in this house) lane departure warning. Apps include travel link, seat heaters, phone (simple to pair), SOS, heated steering wheel, audio, media and climate controls.
The only thing disliked about this 2018 Jeep Compass Limited 4×4 was having to return it without delving into its natural habitat. For this city dweller, though, it had everything I could possibly want at a rational price, in sensible sizing with acceptable performance (tough to gauge at that altitude) in a luscious package. What more does one need?
Words and photos by Anne Proffit