The Jeep Compass finds itself in a precarious position, situated among an extremely strong group of competitors in the compact sport utility vehicle class.
Two mainstays at the top of the class remain the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The short list also includes some high-quality vehicles like the Ford Escape. Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Volkswagen Tiguan, Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Santa Fe and Kia Sportage.
So, how does the Jeep Compass expect to compete? It has a “secret” weapon, one that is the calling card historically for all Jeeps: off-road capability. That’s where the Compass can set itself apart from its rivals, banking that there are plenty of small SUV shoppers who value the ability to go have some off-road adventures.
Apparently, many people do value the unique off-road qualities of the Compass because last year sales reached 171,167, by far its best mark ever. That figure was more than double the sales of the 2017 Jeep Compass.
Considering last year’s sales, it’s no great surprise there’s no significant changes that come with the 2019 Jeep Compass.
Although outclassed in many traditional areas by its competitors, the off-road package it produces is impressive. All four trim models (Sport, Latitude, Limited, Trailhawk) offer all-wheel drive. Yet when it comes to climbing rocks and taking on muddy terrain, the Trailhawk version is the one that delivers.
The Trailhawk is also the priciest model and can climb as high as nearly $33,000, a huge jump from the base Sport that starts at around $22,000.
Yet facts are facts. There is no compact SUV that can touch the Compass as an off-road vehicle. A black hood accent differentiates the Trailhawk, which comes with a standard stiff chassis, all-wheel drive, 17-inch off-road tires, and has an 8.5-inch clearance. It also has a raised suspension; the Selec-Terrain system has settings of snow, sand, and mud that allows the Compass to crawl up steep inclines and navigate along rocky surfaces.
What’s not so cool regarding the Compass is the engine. There’s only one offering, a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder that generates 180 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. Although better than expected here, many people will fine it inadequate. It goes 0-60 mph in an uninspiring 10.1 seconds, but does get 22-31 mpg, and delivers average agility and provides a controlled feeling on challenging roads.
Another drawback is the Compass comes standard with a six-speed manual; there is an optional nine-speed automatic transmission.
2019 Jeep Compass
- Performance: 2.4-liter, four-cylinder,180 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 22-31 mpg
- Price estimate: $21,900 to $32,800
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/60,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited
The Compass can accommodate five people, yet three adults in the back seat is a tight fit. Four adults will find plenty of head and leg room, not always the case in a compact SUV. The compass has 27 cubic feet that increases to 60 cubes with the second row down. The towing capacity is 2,000 pounds, a better than average amount for the class.
While it is outclassed in several areas by some formidable compact SUV rivals, we emphasize that the 2019 Jeep Compass is in a class by itself, thanks to its off-road chops.
Weidel on Wheels is featured regularly on www.tahoeskiworld.com. Auto writer Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.