On Road, Not Off, with the 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk

Sometimes the stars are in alignment or something and things happen in an eerie but oddly appropriate way. Like getting a bright orange vehicle to test drive on Halloween weekend, as I did when the startlingly orange 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk showed up in my driveway. Jeep calls this color “Spitfire Orange” for reasons that escape me, but whatever its official name, it’s hard not to grin at the cheery vehicle:

2017 jeep compass trailhawk

It’s one of those colors that makes it really easy to find your vehicle in a parking lot, for sure!

But the good news is that there’s a lot more to recommend this nicely outfitted Compass Trailhawk and a raft of features that make it a standout in its price class. WIth the legacy of the Jeep brand, of course, it starts out with the ability to tackle just about any terrain or road conditions you want to tackle, all at the spin of a dial:

jeep road conditions 4x4 4 wheel drive

Of course, I couldn’t actually go up into the mountains and try it on mud, descending a rocky slope or even doing donuts in sand (darn loaner cars! 🙂 ) but I did have it during some snowfall which invariably led to icy roads. And it drove like they were dry and clean, no problem at all.

For a vehicle brand that started out making inexpensive vehicles for the Army, Jeep has come a long way in luxury appointments too, as you can see with this dashboard pic:

2017 jeep compass dashboard interior

It’s a bit busy, perhaps, and there’s something mysterious about the three buttons under the right thumb on the steering wheel controls too. What do they do? What could be there? Still, easy to control every feature of the car even while in transit.

However, the above points out something that I did find a bit annoying with the Compass: Not enough storage space for my stuff. Where do you put your smartphone? What about the passenger beverage? I know this seems trivial, but most drivers have stuff – like sunglasses – and having places to store them make a vehicle that’s much more pleasant to own and drive.

The nav system’s big screen doubles as the reverse camera, with directional overlays that make it a veritable video game when backing into a parking spot:

back up camera, 2017 jeep compass

Heck, if I had more confidence, I could just zip along really fast because, hey, the lines show exactly where the edges of the car will be! The owner of that white vehicle won’t mind if I clip him, right? 🙂

Meanwhile, in the back seat, a slight puzzle:

2017 jeep trailhawk back plugs

USB plug = good. 110V outlet for charging devices = good. But there are two people in the back seat, or sometimes three. Why not have a pair of USB plugs here, one that connects to the stereo system and one that’s just for charging? I see a lot of USB splitters purchased by larger families to keep familial harmony…

And, finally, back to the front dash. Really nicely done and a smart, albeit subtle use of the screen tech powering the central portion of the gauges:

2017 jeep compass front dash gauges

The world map in the background is perhaps a bit optimistic as it’s a US version of the vehicle and in any case, few people even travel further than a 100mi from their homes, let alone from continent to continent. But what difference, it’s refreshing to have a subtle background pattern on the screen and it gives the gauges a futuristic feel, no question. Notice also the elapsed driving time since last reset value: 08:13:04.

The 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk edition is rated for 22/30 for an average of 25mpg, but notice above that I was seeing an average of 21.9mpg on a combination of city and highway driving across the 188 miles I’d driven. I’m not particularly heavy footed, so this level of fuel inefficiency was disappointing too and while it might not seem to matter when gas is inexpensive, but when it’s $5/gallon, $6/gallon or more? That fuel efficiency is going to matter.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed driving the 2017 Jeep Compass with its swanky Trailhawk additions. Definitely a vehicle worth checking out if you’re in the market for a medium size SUV ready to tackle inclement weather and poor driving conditions while sitting in the proverbial lap of luxury.

AS DRIVEN: 2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk 4×4, 2.4L MultiAir Engine with engine stop/start, 9-speed automatic transmission and a ton of optional equipment: Cold Weather Group, Advanced Safety & Lighting, Safety and Security, Navigation, Popular Equipment and Power Liftgate. Base Price: $28,595. As Driven: $34,060.

Disclosure: Jeep loaned me the Compass to drive in return for this review. My opinions, however, are my own.

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