Off-roading fun in a Jeep
It’s one of those days when an ordinary day of driving becomes an extraordinary day of fun.
We started the day in the all-new compact Jeep Compass that will replace the old Compass and the Patriot crossovers.
The Compass is a crucial vehicle for the global growth of Jeep, a company with significant global potential. The Jeep Compass is manufactured in four different countries; China, Brazil, India, and Mexico. There are seventeen different fuel-efficient engine and transmission options for markets around the world.
In San Antonio, Texas I drove three of the Compass models; Latitude Limited, and the Trailhawk, all in the 4X4 configuration Jeeps are known for in off-roading. The drive took us over highways, practically rafting through the Leona River, skirting past Longhorns, careening around roadkill big enough for six crows to happily chomp on, to an off-roading ranch where the real fun began.
The Trailhawk edition was used for the off-roading segment. Ground clearance is key in off-roading, and the Trailhawk offered 9.5 inches of ground clearance, an inch more than the Latitude or Limited.
Jeep is legendary for its 4X4 off-road capability, and it’s seven-slot grille; it takes cues from the other legend, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Jeep says the Compass is the “Most capable compact SUV ever with the most advanced 4×4 systems in its class”.
The Chrysler Group has been working on voice recognition for years; I remember Ram years ago (when it was still Dodge Ram) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showing off the voice recognition in their trucks. The Compass now features the Fourth-generation Uconnect system, with voice recognition. The compact SUV also includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the choice of the 5.0-inch or 7.0-inch, or 8.4-inch touchscreens with pinch-and-zoom capability.
The Compass utilizes the well-known 2.4-liter Tigershark engine 16-valve, Inline-4 that can produce 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. Torque and can be mated to one of three transmissions of your choice:
• A nine-speed automatic transmission for 4×4 models
• Six-speed manual transmission for 4×2 and 4×4 Compass models
• Six-Speed automatic transmission for 4×2 Compass models
Chrysler has a plug-in hybrid minivan. I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before we see a plug-in hybrid Jeep with all that low-end torque that hybrids deliver.
EPA estimated fuel economy, and per Jeep, best in class 4X4 fuel efficiency:
23 / 32 / 26 (2.4-liter six-speed 4X2 front-wheel drive, manual transmission)
22 / 31 / 25 (2.4-liter six-speed 4X4 all-wheel drive, manual transmission)
22 / 31 / 25 (2.4-liter six-speed 4X2 front-wheel drive, automatic transmission)
22 / 30 / 25 (2.4-liter nine-speed 4X4 all-wheel drive, automatic transmission)
Includes Engine Stop-start technology for better fuel economy.
The Compass has a 2,000 lbs. limit towing capability, full size matching spare tire and tow hooks for those people who think that kind of thing is fun.
What is the 20:1 crawl ratio?
When your Jeep Compass is in a cantilever position you want the feel of a sure-footed mule on a narrow path going up a mountain, maybe even a mountain goat holding steady on the side of a mountain while munching on a wild daisy. Each step is sure-footed, each time afoot, or tire, goes up in the air, the other hoofs compensate for the weight and holds the body steady. Yeah, that’s what happens in the Jeep during crawl ratio.
Climbing over the boulders and through the streams was easy, I just put the Trailhawk in low-and-lock and ROCK mode and walked that puppy through the trenches, up the hill where I couldn’t see the end, and down the hill through the muddy waters. I enjoyed it so much I did it twice. Part of the joy is feeling the security of the vehicle you are driving. That feeling is better felt the second time, when you know the trail well enough to be a little more daring. The whole event made me want to do more off-roading, more backpacking, more stepping out of my comfort zone.
ZF has launched its first column drive steering system in the US market on the all-new 2017 Jeep Compass, bringing with it the many advantages of electric steering technologies to US consumers.
“With the launch of our latest column drive EPS, ZF is bringing cost and environmental benefits to automakers and their customers,” said Thilo Bitzer, said Thilo Bitzer, vice president steering engineering for the Active and Passive Safety Technology division.
“The technology can deliver a fuel saving of up to 4 percent with a corresponding reduction in carbon dioxide emissions when compared to a conventional mechanical rack and pinion steering system.”
Additionally, electric steering can be integrated with other systems to yield functions such as lane-keeping assist/lane centering, which FCA US LLC implemented on a number of vehicles with the help of ZF camera technology. The system can also help provide further benefits such as side wind compensation and speed-sensitive steering for greater assist at a lower speed (such as parking maneuvers) and tighter steering feel at higher speeds.
2017 Jeep Compass Models
Sport 4X2 – $20,995
Sport 4X4 – $22,495
Latitude 4X2 – $24,295
Latitude 4X4 – $24,295
Limited 4X4 – $28,995
Add $1,095 for shipping and handling
Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Honda HR-V, Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Chevy Equinox, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4
The Compass fills out the Jeep line-up, nicely fitting between the Renegade and the Grand Cherokee. Shipping begins at the end of February 2017 with inventory arriving in April to car dealers.