Car Report: 2014 Jeep Compass a small crossover with upscale looks

WASHINGTON — Jeep has given the Compass crossover some attention this year
inside and out.

Gone are the traditional round headlights; they’ve been replaced with the
front end of the last-generation Grand Cherokee. It really works nicely.

The looks outside are more upscale, but this is a small crossover and not a
high-dollar SUV, so don’t go thinking this is just a mini-Grand Cherokee with
all the bells and whistles. If you’re looking for a cost-effective 4×4 that
will tackle some light off-roading or bad weather, this could be it. I see a
ton of these driving around Western Pennsylvania, where the extra ground
clearance is a must in the winter.

Also, Jeep went over the interior for 2014. There are still some hard
plastics, but not as many as before, and the mid-level Latitude model has some
nice touches, including trim and different colors to brighten up the interior.

The front heated seats are really very comfortable, which I was pleasantly
surprised by, and even the back seats are good. Taller rear seat passengers
might find the leg room lacking, but it’s plenty fine for someone under 6 feet
tall. In general, it’s a decent amount of space for a small crossover.

The optional Uconnect 430 packs its own internal hard drive for your music
storage and a larger 6.5-inch touch screen, and the voice commands work better
than most other systems I have used. The flashlight in the rear cargo area is
another neat touch.

Driving the 2014 Compass Latitude 4×4 is better than the experience with
previous models, thanks to a new six-speed automatic which improves on the old
CVT. The front wheel drive-only models can even be equipped with a five-speed
manual on some base Compass models. But even with the larger 2.4-liter,
4-cylinder engine, the Compass seems slow — when pushed, it gets loud in
protest. Easy acceleration is the way to go. There is a little road noise at
higher speeds.

But this engine and new transmission pay off in improved fuel economy. The
sticker says 21 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, but after a week
and 180 miles, I managed 25.3 mpg, and that’s with more stop-and-go than
highway driving. This Jeep was a fine commuter vehicle with its smaller size
and higher ride height. I did notice the bigger bumps more than some other
vehicles in its class, but overall it’s a solid ride.

Price is where the Jeep Compass is very competitive. The price starts at under
$22,000 for four-wheel drive, and my loaded mid-level Latitude Trim Compass
was $26,880. This could be a way to get a capable, sure-footed Jeep with room
for four adults in a city-friendly package that won’t kill your wallet with
frequent visits to the pump.

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The
vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this

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