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2007 Jeep Compass Limited 4x4 - with Pics


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C&G Drives: The 2007 Jeep Compass

By Brian Dreggors

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I could hear the lil' Jeepette screaming, "Drive me!" So I did.

Today, I had the opportunity to test drive a fresh-to-the-floor 2007 Jeep Compass. For those unfamiliar, the Compass is Jeep's first foray into the highly-competitive car-based sport utility market, a market characterized by youthful looks, creative design, high utility, and affordability. How does the Compass fare? Let's go!

The Basics

The Compass that awaited me on the lot was a Bright Silver Metallic Limited 4x4 with 18" alloy wheels. The base MSRP for this trim was listed as $21,180, but the options (including two convenience groups, Boston Acoustics stereo, and CVT) brought the total up to $24,555 on this specific car while apparently lacking only chrome wheels and a sunroof.

First Impressions

Among the other Jeeps, the Compass stands out due to its more compact dimensions, appearing to be the same size as a Liberty without the height.

On the outside, the exterior is a mishmash of styling cues, some of which seem misplaced on a Jeep. Standing out like bad sores are the bulging fascia 'cheeks' jutting out under each headlamp and large, five-sided turn signal housings on the fender corners. This marrs an otherwise cute yet clean frontal appearance of the concept version and stands in stark contrast to the Jeep's unadorned sides. The upswept rear side glass which is quite the rage these days in compact SUVs seems cribbed from the Toyota RAV4 and is equally unattractive in this setting, compromising rear quarter vision from the driver's seat. The pillar-inset rear door handles also belong on a Nissan, not a Jeep. This is probably the most confounding design aspect of the entire car. 18" alloy wheels do not look that large, but are simple and attractive like most Jeep rims.

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Storing something for winter? Cheek blisters are an unwanted canker on a potentially appealing car.

The rear is clean and largely inoffensive. Embossed COMPASS script is accented by the Compass' apparent logo, made up of the O. Cute touch. The smoothy-placed rear wiper inside the glass itself as opposed to the hatch body is also neat. The rubber guard trim atop the bumper is a thoughtful and welcome touch. A tucked away exhaust pipe as was done here should be madatory on all single-piped cars.

Welcome Aboard

Inside, this Limited is swathed in two-tone leather, which does wonders to break up the overwhelming grayness of the other fixtures. The plastics, though grained, are definitely hard and one would be safe to assume there's not one soft-touch area inside the Compass aside from where you plant your butt. However, for a Jeep, it seems appropriate, especially when combined with washable flooring surface in all models. The silver plastic trim is a nice touch as well.

The instrument panel greets you with a nice information center readout in each primary round gauge, informing you of what's ajar and also *gasp* a compass! Silver-ringed with little cardinal direction arrows on the tach and speedometer, its a pleasent visual treat. Controls - like most domestics - are rather straightforward and easy to use. The Compass features satellite radio controls comprised of six buttons (three per side), but mounted on the reverse of the lateral steering wheel spoke. This is actually very ergonomic, yet takes a little getting used to since you literally have to feel your way to learning what the buttons do. Alas, internationalism rears is boring, symmertrical head as the entire dashboard is designed with R/LHD swapability in mind. At least it provides decent storage for the passenger and storage abounds inside the Compass with multiple compartments and cubbies front and back.

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Like a rock. But its washable to an extent and the seats jazz it up considerably.

Quality and fit-n-finish, again, was fine for a vehicle like a Jeep. I did notice some discoloration marks on the front and back of the first-row center console, unusual for a vehicle with 34 miles. The flip-out phone/iPod holder on the console can be useful as well as the standard power outlet on the console front.

The Drive

Let me get this out of the way first. My daily driver is a 250hp V8 and on occasion I also drive a supercharged 240hp V6, so a lot of cars are 'slow' and 'sluggish' to me. However, the power output of the 2.4l I4 was decidedly adequate for Compass. 172hp may sound potent for a compact car, but for a nearly 3800lb vehicle, you're desiring more. A lot more. And if you're thinking dropping the 4x4 setup will give you an extra second off the quarter mile, think again. According to Jeep, it shaves off a mere 100lbs. That's less than ditching your chick at a drag race.

Being used to standard automatics, the actions of the CVT struck me as unusual to say the least. The oft-mentioned 'rubber-banding' of surging forward after prolonged input only to be pulled back afterward as if you dropped down an extra gear was in full effect. The easy-to-use shiftable 6-speed feature made this bearable. The shifting with the CVT is clearly seemless, but with another feeling you have to get used to. Power delivery was a little slow off the line, so don't go cutting off faster-moving vehicles like I did, but at midrange, it was smooth and adequate.

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Standard 18" alloys on the Limited makes you wonder how bad 16" rims would look

Handling was nice and drivability was exteremely carlike, in contrast to Jeep's own Liberty. The suspension performed well over the imperfections and potholes and didn't experience any disconcerting nosedive or taildip on de/acceleration. The seats were very comfortable, even for a stockier guy like myself, and movement wasn't compromised by the Compass' smaller size with plenty of headroom and a comfortable driving position. The steering wheel was a tad small for my tastes, but its clear the driving community disagrees. Visibility all around (save the rear quarters) was excellent.

Switching from 2WD to 4WD is easy and effortless, not even requiring a shift to neutral. Simply lift a t-shaped chrome handle on the floor console and volia, you're rollin' on all fours.

The sound system didn't get much of a workout, but picked up local stations (even AM) fine and delivered good quality and clarity. The drop-down tailgate unit wasn't specifically tested in this drive.

Pricing

In terms of value, with a extrodinarily wide range of $15,985 to a hair over $26,000 with every factory option box checked, a happy medium between features and economy can be found, but getting too click-happy can increase the pricetag dramatically. Unfortunately for both Jeep dealers and prospective buyers, Chrysler's first allocation will be well-optioned 4x4 Limiteds, meaning the first look at a Compass will result in a $21-and-change expression. However, the smart shopper would fare well by choosing a 2WD Sport with a few well-chosen options or taking a 2WD Limited at $20,140 and driving away happy. At that price, the Compass is rather well equipped with cruise, PW, PL, leather, and steering wheel controls. Stability/traction control and numerous airbags are standard across the Compass line, as are at least 17" wheels.

Whatever Else I Forgot

The cargo area impressed me greatly with a lower liftover height than a proper SUV but still plenty of room and a flat load floor. The majority of the cargo deck is comprised of this hard, durable plastic surface that doubles as the spare tire cover. The vinyl tonneu cover was a nice touch, as was the grab handle on the tailgate itself. Gas struts opened the Compass' rear hatch with great ease, but seemed a little heavier for this car's intended customer - females.

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Large taillamps dominated an uncluttered and clean rear. Sadly, the most visually-appealing angle of the Compass

I would like to see a gas hood strut and integrated antenna on this vehicle. Granted, its not a big deal at $16,000, but for the MSRP of this tester, it should be.

The flip-down speakers seemed rather flimsily-attached and seemed like something that could break (either the mounting or handle) over prolonged use.

An interesting tidbit the salesman told me was that he hoped to sell some of these as tow-behinds for RV owners who like smaller cars like this. However, the 4x4 combined with CVT means that they cannot be towed by two wheels apparently.

The Final Word(s)

There is much to like about the Compass over its sister Caliber, mainly the cute looks. Face it, Jeep made a chick car, but in doing so managed to give it a more sophisticated and urban look while not subtracting much from its Jeepness. However, the design loses it in the details - the glass treatment, the door handle, and that depressed-highschool-girl-gourging-on-fudge front fascia - and to my eyes, the last part really hurts it.

Initital pricing will also hurt the Compass and hurt more than it did the Pacifica because this is an entry-level car. The pricing itself could stand to lose a few dollars just as much as the car itself could stand losing a few hundred pounds. You can feel the extra girth with the 4-cyl.

However, I will give it a C+ average. The Jeep aura can only go so much. Drop the price and it'll earn a B. Restyle it with a bit more power and give it an A.

Links

Offical Jeep Compass Website

More Pictures!

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I find it interesting that just because one car company does something like putting the door handles on the pillars then no other car company can do that without being accused of ripping them off. Odd. If i remember correctly the Chevy Berreta and the last Cutlass Supreme coupe had the door handles on the piller so I suppose Nissan ripped off GM. Oh, and like the Japanese never borrow styling from other companies. Yeah right. Anyway, sorry, to get back on topic I will mention something about the Compass. Not a bad effort. The front is alittle odd in my opinion but overall a decent little SUV.

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Guest YellowJacket894

Good review, Fly.

But...when does the Patriot get here. Looking at it won't bore me or make me think I'm looking at a robotic, rolling chipmunk (to semi-paraphrase one of Fly's captions).

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