What's New for 2007
The 2007 Jeep Compass is an all-new small SUV. Unlike most of Jeep's products, the Compass is meant almost exclusively for street duty.
For many people, small, car-based SUVs represent an ideal choice for a primary vehicle. Smaller in size and more comfortable than traditional SUVs, yet more stylish than hatchbacks and wagons, they are very popular with younger buyers living in urban environments. For 2007, Jeep, a brand not traditionally known for catering to this type of buyer, finally has an entry in the market segment: the Compass.
The 2007 Jeep Compass is indeed a car-based small SUV that places an emphasis on on-road comfort rather than off-road capability. Like the Liberty, the brand's more familiar small SUV, the Compass utilizes a unibody structure, and the two are about the same in terms of overall length. The Compass differs by way of its fully independent suspension and an optional 4-wheel-drive system that normally operates as front-wheel drive (for improved fuel efficiency) and lacks low-range gearing. Much of its underlying hardware is also used for the Dodge Caliber, the all-new Jeep Patriot and, to a lesser extent, the Mitsubishi Outlander.
Jeep has attempted to differentiate the Compass primarily through styling. It features the brand's traditional seven-slot grille and round headlamps as well as more modern design elements, such as standard 17-inch alloy wheels. It also has a bit more ground clearance than the Caliber, larger approach and departure angles and a special feature for the optional automatic 4-wheel-drive system ("Freedom Drive I") that allows the driver to lock torque between the front and rear wheels for improved traction during off-road situations.
For shoppers interested in a small, carlike SUV, the 2007 Jeep Compass might be worth a look. It's comfortable, generally satisfying to drive, set up pretty nicely with features and doesn't cost that much to get off the dealer lot. But keep in mind that its off-road capabilities are slight. If you're really planning on hitting the trail in a new Jeep, buy a Wrangler or Liberty.
What you will want to do is compare the Compass against other small SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, both of which are newly redesigned. At this point, you'll probably realize that the Compass comes up short in terms of cargo space, interior refinement and power.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Jeep Compass is an all-new small SUV with seating for five passengers. There are two trim levels: Compass Sport and Compass Limited. The Sport is rather basic. It has 17-inch alloy wheels, an easy-to-clean cargo load floor and a CD player with an MP3 jack, but air-conditioning, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry, cruise control and some enhanced interior lighting features are all optional. You get these as standard on the Limited as well as 18-inch wheels, leather seating, heated front seats and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Main options, depending on trim, include all-terrain tires, a sunroof, a six-disc CD changer, satellite radio, a premium Boston Acoustics speaker system and Bluetooth connectivity.
Powertrains and Performance
The Compass comes standard with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine capable of 172 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional. Two drive configurations are offered: front-wheel drive or automatic 4-wheel drive. On front-drive Sport models only, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available as an option in conjunction with the CVT. However, with only 158 hp, this engine certainly won't make your Compass any faster.
Four-wheel-drive models operate in front-wheel drive in normal situations and automatically and seamlessly apply power to the rear wheels when needed. The system can also be locked with up to 60 percent of the engine's torque supplied to the rear wheels for better off-road traction. For a 4WD Compass with the 2.4-liter engine and a CVT transmission, expect a rather pokey 0-60-mph time of 10.2 seconds.
Standard safety features include stability control with a rollover sensor, full-length side curtain airbags and traction control. Front seat-mounted side airbags are optional. Limited models have a standard tire-pressure monitoring system.
Interior Design and Special Features
Although generally well laid out, the Jeep's interior is a sea of hard plastic with inconsistent fit and finish. The result is an interior that screams "rental car," which is a shame, because the seats are comfortable and the driving position is excellent. It's also very easy to fold the rear seat flat, plus the front passenger seat folds so you don't have to strap large items to the roof. The cargo area is small, however, measuring just 22.7 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 53.6 cubic feet with two folks aboard, which is less than a Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson or Toyota RAV4.
Although 172 hp is pretty decent output for a 4-cylinder engine, when equipped with 4WD and the power-sapping CVT, the Jeep Compass feels sluggish during highway merging and passing maneuvers. For the best acceleration and fuel economy, go with a front-wheel-drive model with the manual gearbox. Mechanically, the Jeep's best feature is its fully independent suspension. With the 18-inch wheels and tires and the 4WD, the Compass feels agile and responsive. It's easy to drive, and it never feels tippy. The downside is that the Compass is ill-suited for anything more than a dusty trail. The Jeep does have up to 8.4 inches of ground clearance, but it lacks low-range gearing and is fitted with all-season tires as standard.
Read our Jeep Compass Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test