Think of the compact 2007 Compass – which is built on the same all-new underpinnings as the recently introduced Dodge Caliber – as a kinder, gentler Jeep. In place of the “Trail Rated” badges that proclaim the off-road capability of other Jeep models, the Compass sports more sophisticated lines and an available all-wheel-drive system that’s probably better suited to the ways in which most SUV owners typically use their vehicles.
As the Jeep brand’s attempt to target first-time new car buyers, the 2007 Compass is designed to be affordable, without scrimping on important standard features. Sport trim is standard, and the top-of-the-line Limited (shown here) gets standard 18-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, tinted glass, leather upholstery, heated front seats, reclining rear seat backs, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, keyless entry, a universal garage door opener, cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and floor mats. Prices start at $20,140 for the two-wheel drive Limited and $21,740 for the all-wheel drive version.
Options for the 2007 Jeep Compass include 18-inch chrome alloy wheels, a continuously-variable automatic transmission (CVT), a power sunroof, an alarm system, Sirius satellite radio, and a premium Boston Acoustics audio system with nine speakers including a pair that flip down and out from the raised rear liftgate to allow you to share your Chamillionaire CDs with a sure-to-be appreciative world. Load it up with all the goodies and a Compass Limited model with all-wheel drive tops out at about $23,500.
Inside, the 2007 Jeep Compass’ interior features clean lines and attractive materials. Cloth upholstery is standard on Sport models, while Limiteds get leather seating. The Compass’ interior also includes neat details like the center console’s sliding armrest with built-in iPod/cell phone holder, and features good head and leg room, even in the back seat. But it’s here where you’ll also find the cabin’s biggest flaw in the form of molded-in-place cupholders that suck up all the foot room in the rear seat’s center position.
The 2007 Jeep Compass’ cargo area features hard vinyl flooring with a distinctive diamond plate pattern designed to make hauling messy cargo a no-worries affair. The backs of the rear seats are carpeted, however, meaning you’ll still want to have that drop cloth handy when you fold the seats down to transport large loads. The Limited model’s front passenger’s seat folds flat to allow the Compass to carry items up to eight feet long, and there’s a rechargeable lamp in the cargo compartment that pops out to become a handy flashlight.
Powered by a version of DaimlerChrysler’s new four-cylinder “World” engine, the 2007 Jeep Compass gets a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that puts out 172 horsepower and 165 lb.-ft. of torque while turning in respectable EPA fuel economy numbers as high as 25 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Power is applied to the pavement through a standard five-speed manual or an available gearless CVT automatic transmission that allows the engine to operate in its most efficient rpm range to help maximize fuel economy. Limited buyers can also opt for a version of the CVT with the carmaker’s AutoStick manual shift feature that simulates six traditional gear ratios for those looking for a sportier – or just more familiar – shift feel.
Before the 2007 Compass, Jeep never had a front-wheel drive product in its line-up. For those looking for the added peace-of-mind all-wheel drive brings when the weather turns ugly, Jeep offers Freedom Drive I on the Compass. This all-new system sends most of the power to the front wheels for better fuel economy until sensors detect a possible loss of traction. For negotiating deep snow or dicey off-road stretches, the system also features a “Lock” mode that transfers up to 60 percent of torque to the rear wheels at low speeds.
In order to leave no doubt that the 2007 Compass is a new type of Jeep intended to please a new type of Jeep buyer, designers created a look that toys with the brand’s traditional styling cues in much the same way a jazz musician riffs on a familiar melody. This new design direction, which Compass designers have dubbed “Jeep Modern,” goes out of its way to look more sophisticated and less rough around the edges than the Jeeps of days gone by. But, while many of the classic Jeep styling cues are incorporated into this design, such as the trademark seven-slot grille, the angular wheel openings, and the round headlights, we think the overall effect lacks the solidity and strength we expect from a vehicle wearing the rugged Jeep brand.
Jeep product planners have seen to it that passengers riding in the 2007 Compass are well protected by a full complement of advanced safety features. Multi-stage front airbags and side-curtain airbags designed to reduce the likelihood of head injuries for outboard passengers in both rows are standard. Side-impact airbags, designed to protect the torsos of front seat occupants, are available as an option. Other standard safety features include antilock brakes with brake assist, a feature that helps bring maximum braking force to bear in panic stops. To help nip an impending skid or rollover in the bud, both Compass models are also equipped with an electronic stability control system with an anti-rollover feature. A tire pressure-monitoring system is available as an option.
Since the beginning, the word Jeep has stood for just one thing: Rugged, go anywhere off-road capability. But with the introduction of its new 2007 Compass sport-utility vehicle, the folks at Jeep are trying to stretch that definition in an attempt to appeal to a broader range of American car buyers.